Researchers from Columbia University have now showed us that a video game can help increase stroke awareness in young children.
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New technology has led to the creation of virtual humans who can interact with therapists via a computer screen and realistically mimic the symptoms of a patient with clinical psychological disorders, according to new research presented at the American Psychological Association's 120th Annual Convention.
"As this technology continues to improve, it will have a significant impact on how clinical training is conducted in psychology and medicine," said psychologist and virtual reality technology expert Albert "Skip" Rizzo, PhD, who demonstrated recent advancements in virtual reality for use in psychology.
Researchers at the University of Toronto are using graphic novels in medical classrooms to teach future doctors about humanizing illness.
In addition to the stalwart Manual of Clinical Oncology, medical students may soon see the comic book Cancer Vixen: A True Story on their required reading list.
Researchers are using graphic novels as a teaching tool to communicate the ethical and emotional complexities of illness, disease and trauma to medical students.
With their self-effacing protagonists and cutting black humour, graphic novels often capture the reality of being sick, or knowing a loved one who is, better than dry textbooks and earnest self-help memoirs.
“Cartoons and comics were dismissed as a trivial medium, but we realize now they are extremely sophisticated,” says Allan Peterkin, associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Toronto. “It’s about that interplay between the words and the text. You’re using different parts of the brain to read carefully, just as you’re doing to diagnose in the clinic.”
Check out the classroom of the future, Bill Gates’ style: Students are grouped according to skill set. One cluster huddles around a computer terminal, playing an educational game or working on a simulator. Another works with a human teacher getting direct instruction, while another gets a digital lesson delivered from their teacher’s avatar.
This kind of “game-based” learning is one of the priorities of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, a nonprofit founded by the Microsoft creator.
Two years ago, the nonprofit brought together 20 of the country’s best assessment designers with 20 of the world’s best game designers to discuss creating games that engage kids more deeply, said Vicki Phillips, director of the college ready strategy for the Gates Foundation.
“Part of what we’re trying to do is make more robust the array of things teachers have access to at their fingertips that are aligned to standards, that are high quality, that engage kids though technology and let [teachers] be the orchestra leader,” Phillips said.
A fan of video games, the 14-year-old decided to take the project seriously and spent several hours over two weeks at school and home to come up with the game’s components.
Brightly said he enjoys video games with heroes saving the world. Those games inspired his storyline of “Vege-Wars,” in which a middle school student is recruited to fight a war against “fast foodies” — unhealthy fast foods — and teach others about better eating options.
The Henry Middle School student won the best overall, or “Bestivore,” award out of nearly 400 entries from 42 schools across the country for his game.
Research by Yardleys School, a top state secondary in Birmingham, compared results among children who accessed games produced by the Doncaster education company i-education.
Teachers said the use of the system – employed by some 900 primary and secondary schools – promoted “stealth learning”, with children unwittingly picking up key skills while being engrossed in computer games.
It emerged that 70 per cent of regular users exceeded pre-set GCSE targets in maths compared with just 40 per cent of other pupils.
“It’s giving students the opportunity to continue their learning outside of lessons. Students are still playing football and having fun but they are also heavily engaged in continuing their learning outside of school.”
How do you teach middle-schoolers about compassion? Create a video game about it, of course.
That's the thinking, anyway, behind a new study at UW-Madison.
With a $1.39 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, UW-Madison researchers will develop and test two educational games to help eighth-graders develop empathy, cooperation, mental focus and self-regulation.
"By the time they reach the eighth grade, virtually every middle-class child in the Western world is playing smartphone apps, video games, computer games," said Davidson in a UW-Madison news release.
The hope is to use the media for "constructive purposes" and eventually to reach wide audiences, he said.
The first game will focus on attention; the second will stress social behaviors such as kindness and altruism.
Why does gaming work so well as a learning tool? Games have clear rules and objectives that students can understand and work to achieve. And there's no denying that the really well-designed ones are easy to get immersed in. They also have plenty of bells and whistles to motivate players. Even if they don't do well at first, eventually they are rewarded for their persistence. Given the eagerness students show to play games, the gaming revolution is probably in classrooms for good.
Play a sedentary video game and live a healthier life? That’s the hope of Yale researchers who are joining the booming health games industry with an iPad application designed to help minority teens learn about HIV prevention strategies.
As part of Yale’s Play2Prevent initiative, a group from the School of Medicine conducted focus groups with New Haven teens to gain an understanding common factors and behaviors that affect HIV risk. The findings are guiding the design and content of a new iPad game titled PlayForward: Elm City Stories, which aims to promote better decisions among minority youth. The researchers will conduct a study on the game’s impact HIV transmission rates starting later this year.
“The overall goal is to help kids practice skills in the game that will decrease their engagement in behaviors that put them at risk for HIV,” said brief author Lynn Fiellin MED ’96, associate professor of medicine and director of Play2Prevent. “The idea is to build an evidence-based HIV intervention. The game has to be fun and engaging, but it has to accomplish something.”
The game involves creating an avatar who goes through a virtual life and makes decisions revolving around risk behaviors, including unprotected sex and drug and alcohol abuse. The player will be able to see how their choices and actions influence later situations and rewind to play out how making another decision could produce a different outcome. Researchers will study the impact of the game among New Haven teens in an 18-24 month clinical trial starting later this year.
Valve recently launched a free initiative called Teach With Portals that aims to help teachers use the game Portal 2 to engage students in learning science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) and critical thinking. By converting its level-building software, Hammer Editor, into a much easier to use interface called Puzzle Maker, Valve has made it possible for anyone to design challenging Portal rooms. The Teach With Portals website also offers community-submitted lesson plans that utilize the game and align with national STEM standards so teachers can directly incorporate them into their curriculum.
The inspiration for Teach With Portals came in part from a project called Learn With Portals, in which seventh graders from Evergreen School in Washington who were working on a spatial reasoning project visited Valve last year.
While serious games have been explored in academic settings, the genre has lacked support from big video game developers to make a hit and to date, widespread commercial success for serious games has remained out of reach. But Valve’s entrance into this space could be just the shot in the arm needed to get serious games into the mainstream.
For special needs students, opportunities for participating in physical activity lessen as they get older. This is related to the highly structured nature of competitive sports as well as the complex motor and social skills needed to navigate team sports.
While the use of dance, aquatics and even yoga are becoming more prevalent at special needs schools, some forward-thinking institutions are also looking at off-the-shelf technology applications.
Does it work? In a recently published article, Dan Stachelski of the Lakeside Center for Autism in Issaquah, Washington, noted that researchers have found multiple cases where students with developmental disabilities easily interact with an onscreen character that mimics their motions because the game world is more predictable and less threatening (to them) than "the real world."
Students can benefit from a video sports game curriculum via increased body fitness, improved self-esteem, improved ability to manage stress, healthy body composition, flexibility, strength and endurance, as well as developing the social skills necessary to participate in team sports. By using a video sports curriculum, students also set the stage for life-long physical improvements because this activity helps reduce barriers to access, whether those barriers are physical, emotional or psychological.
With Kinect the students were no longer limited to a chair plugged to a table, they were dancing with their peers in front of the screen and in this way also practicing their motoric and coordination skills. This dynamic allowed us to shape the game according to the student´s needs, adding extra rules etc. and in this way we could continue to develop the students´ skills.
School Principal Leonardo Amaral puts it this way: “First and foremost, Kinect directly supports our mission to provide a meaningful and stimulating education for all of our students; second, it helps teachers reinforce teamwork – while still providing personalised learning experiences; and it is a fantastic tool for measuring the amazing progress that our students are making every day. With Kinect the range of possibilities of which may be taught and learned by our students with disabilities has undoubtedly increased. It opens new horizons in personal relationships, improves cooperation between peers and develops personal mobility. Kinect also enables an easier inclusion of our special needs students in a future social working environment”.
Northeast Elementary School recently received a grant to pay for three Nintendo Wii video game systems for students to use during indoor recess periods. The game systems are famous for the physical involvement they require from their players in games such as bowling, tennis, disc golf, baseball, basketball and dance, among others. The grant was from the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas Foundation Healthy Habits for Life, and is offered to help schools combat childhood obesity.
Atari founder Nolan Bushnell has been testing education software for years and says he has created a method of teaching a full high school career in less than a year, using, in large part, cloud systems. "In cloud gaming you disconnect the system's administration from the computer to the cloud," Bushnell told GamesIndustry.biz. "It's going to be an important step for allowing technology into the classroom." Bushnell says his program teaches students 10 times faster than traditional methods, and his shortened high-school-span plan could be ready for implementation by the end of 2011.