and the bewildering variety of games and simulations for science learning available for free or for purchase can leave potential customers confused. The committee recommends the following:

  • Research to better understand key factors that will enable both the education marketplace and the informal learning marketplace to embrace games and simulations for science learning. The goals of this research should be to increase understanding of key design features that enhance the appeal and uptake of games and simulations and market forces that affect adoption across formal and informal learning contexts.

  • Research and development partnerships should be established to investigate alternative mechanisms for supporting large-scale collaborative innovation in science education based on the use of simulations and games and to support ongoing improvement in simulations and games.

  • Research on the feasibility of systems for informing users or consumers about the quality and educational effectiveness of simulations and games designed for science learning, such as expert rating systems. This research should explore the potential of such systems to serve as catalysts for distribution of high-quality simulations and games.

Institutionalizing Research and Development

To carry out all elements of this research agenda, the committee recommends creating research and development partnerships:

  • Academic researchers, developers and entrepreneurs from the gaming industry, and education practitioners and policy makers should form research and development partnerships to facilitate rich intellectual collaboration. These partnerships, which may be large or small, should coordinate and share information internally and with other partnerships and should

    • share resources and tools, thereby reducing costs and allowing reusability;

    • provide researchers with shared points of access to students and their educational records and to informal learners, at the same time conducting research that assists formal and informal learning institutions;

    • explore alternative approaches to—and economic models for—extending the life cycle of simulations and games with ongoing updating and maintenance; and

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