AERA Releases “Ed-Talk” Videos and Research Fact Sheets on Important Issues in Education and Learning

WASHINGTON, D.C., September 7—The American Educational Research Association (AERA) has released 31 “Ed-Talk” videos that feature leading education scholars discussing cutting-edge research on a range of important education and learning issues. The videos, which are each roughly six minutes in length, are designed to convey key research findings crisply, quickly, and compellingly.

The videos are accompanied by 31 research fact sheets that the scholars developed to provide the underlying findings and cumulative research that frame the Ed-Talks.

The 31 Ed-Talks headlined AERA Knowledge Forum events earlier this year. Held as part of AERA’s Centennial year programming, the Knowledge Forum created an opportunity for leading education scholars and policy leaders to engage in an open, in-depth discussion of research on education and learning using Ed-Talks as catalysts for a series of compelling conversations.

Thirteen of the Ed-Talks were given at a forum held in February in Washington, D.C., on significant research clustered around three themes—how people learn, how we can optimize learning, and how we can foster equitable outcomes.

An additional 18 Ed-Talks were presented at AERA’s 2016 Annual Meeting in April, also held in Washington, D.C. These sessions touched on major issues including education equity, the use of research in policymaking, student learning, opportunities for disadvantaged students, and inclusive education practices.

“The AERA Knowledge Forum was driven by the aspiration to make visible and accessible high-quality education research that is relevant, powerful, and useful for addressing challenging issues facing practitioners, policymakers, and the public,” said AERA Executive Director Felice J. Levine. “By broadly making public the Ed-Talk videos and fact sheets, we are not only sharing a critically important research base, but also helping to expand the public’s knowledge and inform the environment in which decisions are made about policy and practice.”

The Ed-Talks and fact sheets—along with scholar bios, a list of funding agencies that made possible the research covered in the talks, and more—are available in the Knowledge Forum section of the AERA Centennial microsite.

To view the 31 Ed-Talk videos click HERE. To read more about the Knowledge Forum scholars and download research fact sheets click HERE. To learn more about AERA’s Centennial programming, including upcoming events, click HERE.

Game Time

How the power of games inspires solutions to today’s biggest challenges

By Lara Cole

For Sasha Barab, professor of innovation in ASU’s School for the Future of Innovation in Society and professor of education in the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College, it’s “game on” as he and his team create virtual solutions to society’s challenges.

“We develop games, apps, and platforms to immerse learners in what it’s really like to be a scientist, a doctor, or an engineer by investigating real-world problems in a virtual world,” Barab says.

This type of learning is called transformational play, and it’s much different from memorizing facts for a test. In a game world, the power lies in taking on the role of protagonist and making choices that have consequences. It helps people learn and grow in a context where they can fail safely and come to appreciate themselves as people who can have a real impact in a world—albeit a virtual one.

ASU Impact Magazine game time

The center recently launched My LifeLabs, its newest venture to unlock human potential through a growth and impact platform, thanks to grants from Intel, the National Science Foundation, and donations from entrepreneurs.As cofounder and executive director of ASU’s Center for Games and Impact, Barab has been harnessing the power of game-infused learning for five years. Grants from the Gates Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation, and the National Science Foundation, and seed funding from ASU, gave the center its early springboard.

“ASU has the entrepreneurial spirit to manifest designs that can be researched and scaled to make positive change in the real world,” Barab says.

Now that’s a game we all can win.

Games Add Competition, Urgency, and Fun to Nonprofit Fundraising

With technology already an integral part of daily life, nonprofits are seizing new opportunities to incorporate elements of interactive games into their volunteer programs and fundraising campaigns.  Some charities make games their mission but some charities simply incorporate the qualities that make games appealing, like competition and a sense of urgency, into their fundraising strategies, says Dale Nirvani Pfeifer, chief executive of GoodWorld“We really believe nonprofits need to make giving fun,” Ms. Pfeifer says. “Make people feel they’re on a mission with you and the charity is cheering you on.”

Merely incorporating elements of games into a campaign rarely creates awareness or prompts changes in behavior, Ms. Pollack says. So she recommends creating fully immersive experiences that can raise both awareness and funds.  There’s a lot of money to be gained by tapping into the gaming industry, which in 2015 had total revenues of $23.5 billion, according to the Entertainment Software Association.

“Games can really give you a position of empathy,” says Kathryn Dutchin, interim associate director at the Center for Games and Impact at Arizona State University. “They are opportunities to sit in the shoes of others and gain perspective.”

One potential drawback: True games can be expensive to design, ranging from $25,000 for a very simple mobile app to more than $3 million for a game with detailed animation and many levels of play,   “We have big dreams of diving into the gamification world,” Ms. Schutes says.

Send an email to Rebecca Koenig.


Article was originally published in The Chronicle of Philanthropy

AERA Brings Scholars and Thought Leaders to February Knowledge Forum

February 2016

AERA town hall panelistsThirty-one accomplished scholars and a complementary group of national thought and policy leaders met at the AERA Knowledge Forum, February 18-19, in Washington, D.C. A first-of-its kind event in education research, the Forum aimed to connect the science and scholarship of education research to policy and practice emphasizing the value of diverse expertise.
The February 18 event was a “retreat-type” opportunity to examine the knowledge base and potential modes of knowledge utilization. The February 19 event enlarged the conversation to include education policy leaders from the executive branch of government in a roundtable hosted by the White House Domestic Policy Council (DPC).

The convening on February 18 featured 13 rapid-fire TED-like talks (“Ed Talks”) on significant research clustered around three themes—how people learn, how we can optimize learning, and how we can foster equitable outcomes. Each cluster was followed by in-depth small group discussions, led by 6 other scholars, partnered with thought leaders, to consider the position and potential of research from the vantage of thought leaders’ roles and need. The Ed Talks served to catalyze these compelling conversations.

The Ed Talk topics and presenters included:
Cluster 1: How do people learn in today’s information and technology-rich world?

  • Learning with an Emotional Brain — Mary Helen Immordino-Yang, University of Southern California
  • Re-Educating the Mind — Patricia Alexander, University of Maryland, College Park
  • Games, Learners, and Innovation — Sasha Barab, Arizona State University
  • Designing Learning for Equity — Na’ilah Suad Nasir, University of California, Berkeley

Cluster 2: How can increasingly diverse schools and classrooms optimize the learning needed to navigate the world?

  • Supporting the Development of Children’s Mathematics — Megan Franke, University of California, Los Angeles
  • The Promise of Advanced High School Mathematics Coursework — Chandra Muller, University of Texas, Austin
  • Identifying and Reducing Racial Threat in Face-to-Face Encounters — Howard Stevenson, University of Pennsylvania
  • Social-Emotional Learning Approaches: Prevent Bullying and Promote Positive School Climate — Dorothy Espelage, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

Cluster 3: How can policy and practice foster equitable outcomes for all students?

  • Inequality and Academic Achievement — Sean Reardon, Stanford University
  • High Quality Pre-K: Taking the Road Less Traveled — Steven Barnett, Rutgers University
  • Achieving True Integration in Education — Prudence Carter, Stanford University
  • Understanding the Racial College Completion Gap: Demography, Data, and Stakeholders— Stella Flores, New York University
  • School Accountability: Time for a New Approach — Helen (Sunny) Ladd, Duke University

Building on the talks and breakout groups, a town hall meeting co-facilitated by thought leaders and scholars called on participants to consider new models and institutional strategies to make research more useful and accessible and the strengthen the connection between high-quality research and policy. The town hall discussion, moderated by Jeffrey Henig (Teachers College, Columbia University), included panelists Shirley Malcom (American Association for the Advancement of Science), Laura Perna (University of Pennsylvania), Russell Rumberger (University of California, Santa Barbara), and Thomas Saenz (MALDEF).

The February 19 event featured education research scholars and high-ranking Obama administration officials meeting to engage together in “Bridging Education Policy and Research.” The DPC roundtable, held in the Old Executive Office Building, was hosted by Roberto Rodríguez, deputy assistant to the president for education. Building on the insights and conclusions from the first day of the Forum the roundtable featured scholar presentations and moderated discussions around three topics—New Designs for Learning and Innovation, Promoting Diversity and Conditions for Inclusive Learning, and Addressing Gaps in College Access and Success.

“Spark presentations” were given in each of the topic areas, respectively, by Sasha Baraba (Arizona State University), Prudence Carter (Stanford University), and Stella Flores (New York University). Moderators included Linda Darling-Hammond (Stanford University), AERA President Jeannie Oakes (UCLA), and Laura Perna (University of Pennsylvania).

Roundtable participants from the Obama administration included Ted Mitchell, under secretary of the Department of Education; James Kvaal, deputy director of the White House Domestic Policy Council; Tom Kalil, deputy, director for technology and innovation at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy; and several other officials representing the civil rights, P-12, and higher education areas of the Education Department and Domestic Policy Council.

Read full article here.

School for the Future of Innovation in Society

What does the future hold? David Guston, Founding Director of SFIS, encourages scientists and citizens alike to shape a desirable tomorrow. How? Through the development of innovative ideas that address both existing and foreseeable real-world problems.


As Founding Director, what motivated you to establish the School for the Future of Innovation in Society (SFIS) at Arizona State University (ASU), USA?

My ASU colleagues and I have been working on the societal aspects of science, technology and innovation since the Consortium for Science, Policy and Outcomes (CSPO) moved here in 2004. CSPO was initially created by Michael Crow, when he was Executive Vice Provost for Research at Columbia University, to be Columbia’s science policy think tank in Washington, DC. After Michael became President of ASU in 2002, he made CSPO Director Dan Sarewitz an offer he couldn’t refuse to recreate the centre at ASU – and then Dan made me an offer I couldn’t refuse to join him.

So, in one sense, the founding of SFIS is the culmination of activities that we’ve been engaged in for more than a decade at ASU – just formalised in an organisation that is more recognisable as an academic unit than CSPO was. Over the years, we’ve hired new faculty, instigated the creation of new graduate programmes – namely, a doctoral programme in Human and Social Dimensions of Science and Technology and the Master of Science and Technology Policy – and generated a lot of new research, especially in the Center for Nanotechnology in Society at ASU, which the US National Science Foundation funded with an initial $6.2 million, five-year award in 2005 and renewed for $6.7 million in 2010.

But in another sense, SFIS is a brand new beginning because, first, as an academic unit reporting to the Provost, we are in greater control of our own destiny and, second, as a school embracing ASU’s particular mission of access, excellence and impact, we are taking on new challenges like creating an undergraduate major and minor. Like ASU’s School of Sustainability, SFIS is a school created from a problem in the world, rather than from a centuries-old tradition of scholarship or the coalescing of a professional community. For us, that problem is the complex and sometimes ambiguous role of innovation in society, and the role that we all have in making our own futures.

How is SFIS preparing students to build upon the incredible accomplishments of science and technology in years to come?Incidental_SFIS2

Our students pay a lot of attention to the so-called emerging technologies – like nanotechnology, synthetic biology, artificial intelligence and so forth – that are characterised by high stakes, high uncertainty and what I like to call a ‘politics of novelty’, in which it is essentially impossible to say whether synthetic biology, for example, is not novel because it merely extends a millennia-old practice of husbandry and agriculture, or that it is novel because it introduces species that not only have not been, but could not have been, crafted by evolution.

With emerging technologies, we’re operating without much data and with multiple kinds of uncertainty, so the risk paradigm really falls apart. We’re teaching our students to pursue a vision of what we call ‘anticipatory governance’, in which they work toward three capacities. The first is understanding or generating anticipatory knowledge of plausible futures with an eye toward what can be done today to help better establish the path toward more desirable futures. We’re teaching them about upstream public engagement, in which substantive, two-way dialogues can be created between lay and expert communities at a point in time at which the differences between the two are minimised due to those great uncertainties. And we’re teaching them how to integrate knowledge across the traditional two-cultures divide, and not just work in, but lead, cross-disciplinary teams aimed at real-world problem solving.

But our students are also interested in legacy technologies – think in particular about large-scale systems like energy, water and food – in which contemporary innovation certainly plays a role, but the key factor is the interaction of numerous social and technical subsystems that have evolved over decades in complex ways. At SFIS, we challenge our students to think about how social change (like behaviour with respect to energy use) and technological change (such as smart metering of affordable roof-top solar panels) interact such that it makes little sense to speak of one without the other. In other words, we teach them to analyse socio-technical systems. We also focus on knowledge systems; that is, the connections among the various ways in which knowledge is produced, validated, disseminated and consumed across society. And we teach them in both national and international contexts, such as through our Master of Science in Global Technology and Development.

Read full interview here.

ASU selected as nation’s most innovative school for third straight year

Arizona State University tops the list of “most innovative schools” in the newly released U.S. News & World Report college rankings for 2016.

“Most innovative” is a new category for the widely touted set of annual rankings by the news magazine, which compares more than 1,500 institutions on a variety of metrics.

ASU topped the list based on a survey of peers. College presidents, provosts and admissions deans around the country nominated up to 10 colleges or universities that are making the most innovative improvements to curriculum, faculty, students, campus life, technology or facilities.

Though, it’s not just college officials who are noticing ASU’s innovative atmosphere.

Photo Archive/2014/08-August/Wrigley-Hall

Photo Archive/2014/08-August/Wrigley-Hall

“ASU provided us with so many opportunities to excel in entrepreneurship and other projects,” said Jared Schoepf, who was on a team of undergraduates who launched a startup called SafeSipp, which designed and produces water-purifying devices for developing countries.

“We went to several competitions and we realized that ASU gave us that upper edge to compete.”

After ASU, the four most innovative universities were Stanford, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of Maryland – Baltimore County, Georgia State. Half of the 28 universities on the list, like ASU, are public.

ASU has launched several unique programs in the past few years, including several focused on widening access to higher education, which is a mission of University President Michael Crow.

Last year the school announced the Starbucks College Achievement Plan, a partnership with the coffee company that offers full tuition reimbursement to Starbucks employees who pursue an online degree through ASU. And this fall saw the debut of ASU’s Global Freshman Academy, in which students can take online classes and decide after completion whether they want to pay for the credits, which are offered at a rate of $200 per hour.

ASU is also exploring better ways to teach. Several hundred freshmen are participating in a new project-based learning pilot this year called ProMod. The program combines instruction in general education and students’ focused areas of study while they tackle real life problems. Faculty are researching whether the students are more likely to complete their degrees than students who take classes delivered in the traditional way.

Sometimes innovation comes in the form of foresight.

The W.P. Carey School of Business, which maintained its top-30 ranking for undergraduate business schools in the magazine’s listings, was among the first to create a master’s of science in business analytics, in which graduates learn how to harness the power of massive amounts of data. The program, which was started in response to industry demand, has tripled its enrollment in the two years it’s been offered.

“Ranking in the top 30 for the past decade is a testament to the ability of faculty and staff to focus on individual student attention and program excellence at the same time,” said Amy Hillman, dean of the W. P. Carey School of Business.

For students, the approach to innovation can be both academic and practical.

“It’s spectacular what they allowed us to do,” said Schoepf, who is now pursuing his doctorate in chemical engineering at ASU.

Schoepf and his team launched their product as part of the “engineering projects in community service” course at the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering. He said they won several grants totaling more than $50,000 to launch their product, including rent-free manufacturing space provided by ASU.

Among the other U.S. News and World Report rankings, ASU was 8th in “best online programs” and 16th for faculty commitment to teaching undergraduates. ASU also appeared on a list of 92 universities touted as being “A+ schools for B students,” where “nonsuperstars” can thrive. That list was presented alphabetically, not ranked.

But creating a culture of innovation is more than starting separate programs across the university.

“You do need to create a sustainability of innovation across the breadth of the university – a little pocket here and a little pocket there just doesn’t do it,” said Dave Guston, founding director of ASU’s new School for the Future of Innovation in Society.

He credits President Crow with fostering a foundation for innovation.

“The faculty members feel very comfortable crossing boundaries and engaging in collaborations that at other institutions would be treated with something between indifference and hostility.”

Guston said that culture of innovation has helped recruit faculty to ASU.

“Basically, the faculty we’ve brought into the new school are coming specifically to do things they felt they were not able to do at their home institutions.”

Original story here

Mary Beth Faller,
ASU News

New E-Book on Power of Play

A dialogue exploring the potential of multi-user videogames for bringing about academic and pro-social ends

The Power of Play in the Digital Age CoverThe Power of Play in the Digital Age
FREE | 88 pages
For Apple iBooks (Free)
For Amazon Kindle ($2.99)

This book started as a paper exploring unexpected tensions of freedom vs control which emerged out of our idealistic/activist design experiment, Quest Atlantis (QA)—a 3D multiuser virtual world with a rich backstory that supported the learning of over 100,000 elementary and middle-school students on five continents. This project, designed with generous support from the National Science Foundation, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, explored the potential of multi-user videogames for bringing about academic and pro-social ends. Balancing between hope (myself, the idealistic academic) and cynicism (Craig, the philosophical project manager), we opened up a dialogue about the potentiality of media, fantasy, kid culture, and adult role-playing in reactions to QA’s early implementations and data. Coupled with a graphic artist (Craig’s childhood friend, Kit) whose work ranges from major corporate accounts to participatory social commentaries, this little project ballooned into an exploration of the philosophical tensions that riddled our attempts at prosocial and kid-centered education residing at the intersection of education, entertainment, and our social commitments.

Aware of the mass and confusion of messages offered to children in our contemporary society, critical theorists such as Giroux, McLaren, and Lather have asserted that the new ‘educators’ in the 21st century are those who possess the vision and finances to use mass media. These theorists argue that the implicit challenge is to become educators in this new sense – engaging our children’s tendencies toward entertaining, dramatic play – as well as to remain true to our purposes of helping children develop practical, meaningful, and life-fulfilling skills. It was with this provisional understanding that we developed a virtual play space designed to create a compelling learning context for kids.  So, it was through in reflecting on the tensions in supporting thousands of kids and teachers around the world that this book emerged. While most of our other work is more “academic,” finding homes in peer-reviewed academic journals, this book was meant to address a more diverse and a more personal audience. It is our belief that all of us are, at some level, educators and that as a society we have forgotten the importance of play as an important component of the educational process. With QA, we set out with a lot of idealism and energy.  We’re pro-kid.

Quest Atlantis Legend Video from Center for Games and Impact on Vimeo.

Because our experiences have been so visceral, so visual, so aesthetically-oriented and complex, we used the ‘design’ of this piece to embed the reader in an experience that is both playful and sometimes difficult.  In this way, we have tried to create a ‘playful’ book that the reader experiences—not simply reads. We have tried to do this by developing a heavily designed e-book that invites our “adult” readers into a phenomenological space with at least the flavor of the core tensions associated with learning through play and videogames. While designed for printing, we have found that the e-book offers a meaningful experience for those with whom we piloted the content.

This book is written for curriculum designers, curriculum educators, K-12 teachers, parents, and the interested public who want to understand more about the power and challenges of play in general and videogames in particular. We hope that this book will serve as a catalyst for interesting conversations about the power of play and new media in this digital age. We hope the reader will also develop a richer respect for why videogames have become one of the dominant play media of our time, and for the importance (and challenges) of harnessing this power to do good. We especially hope that this book will inspire parents and teachers to appreciate the educational power of play.

The Power of Play in the Digital Age Cover

The Power of Play in the Digital Age
FREE | 88 pages
For Apple iBooks (Free)
For Amazon Kindle ($2.99)

CGI Partners with Intel to create the Next Big Thing in Professional Development

The Center for Games and Impact at ASU has partnered with Intel to innovate around their online teacher professional development courses.

Intel, a leader in online teacher PD has trained millions of teachers around the globe through its Engage program. ASU Center for Games and Impact is a leader in investigating, innovating, and cultivating games for impact.

By applying research from the learning sciences powered by game mechanics and principles, the Center is working in deep collaboration with Intel to develop a model, curriculum, and platform to provide teachers a learning experience that goes beyond traditional online learning, and promotes collaboration and practice in the classroom with the ultimate goal of impacting the millions of students that teachers interact with each year.

pba-rewardThe first journey to be released, “Designing Projects for Impact”, puts the teacher in the role of designer, using project-based approaches that foster leadership, team work, curiosity, and 21st Century skills, to build deeply engaging learning experiences for their students. This journey is scheduled to begin Beta testing Fall of 2015.

Contact Kathryn Dutchin or Anna Arici for more information.

RebelHold joins the Center for Games and Impact in building Innovations

rebelhold-logo_logo3RebelHold, a local startup focused on bringing engineering and design solutions to stakeholder needs, has joined the Center for Games and Impact to engineer innovations for a better tomorrow. The initial development builds on the work of the Center with numerous stakeholders such as NSF, Intel, Gates, MacArthur and others creating learning experiences to raise Digital Empowerment of young African women, to inspire Latino youth to pursue STEM careers, and to engage students in the Scientific Process.

Beginning as a consultancy, the Center and members of RebelHold are collaborating to build a learning and growth platform to invite, enable, and release the potential of all of us to do great things. From the Center’s perspective, the connection to the users’ needs is as important as the technical details, and RebelHold brings a level of social commitment and interest in enabling users that is often difficult to find in a technology team.

It is this focus on the human potential that makes RebelHold an ideal collaborator in this effort to realize an innovative vision supported by a scalable technology suite. Add to it their strong engineering capability, their design sensibilities, and commitment to local ecosystem empowerment, and we have a powerful recipe for engineering a better tomorrow.

Look for updates on this exciting project in Fall!

Jason Goldberger
Michael Christenson II, has spent the past couple of decades developing businesses, engineering technical solutions to meet present demands, and working with communities to provide stability, ownership, and growth. Included in his most recent successes are an IoT platform used by Intel, IBM, Citrix, and Microsoft, a micro farming platform built to automate individual plots, increasing and leveraging knowledge of global growing conditions, and the continuation of his Mentorship business model as CEO of RebelHold. With a deep interest in the academic and economic success of students, Michael brings to the Center his understanding of life after schooling and a hands on approach to enabling others to build a better world around them. Jason Goldberger, joins the Center as part of the RebelHold collaboration. As Senior Game Programmer, Jason is responsible for engineering game interaction mechanics and for providing users with smooth, easy-to-use gaming experiences. He enjoys engineering the “full stack” from back to front end, approaching complex problems as systems to be abstracted. Jason is a former soldier (8 years U.S. Army), an avid gamer, and a passionate open-source software developer with 191 contributions to the community in the past year. Jason also has growing interests in machine learning, AI, robotics, and Internet of Things technologies. Ryan Hurst, has an International Relations academic background focusing on International Economic Relations, Global Environmental Policy, and Sustainable Urban Development. An American University (BA, MA) graduate, Ryan spent a number of years working in Washington, D.C. as a Contractor for the U.S. Department of State, Congressional Intern, and Obama Organizing Fellow. After working in large institutions, Ryan began to desire the flexibility and scalable impact made available through open source web technology. As a result, he learned how to program, design, and develop innovative web-based business models. Now, Ryan finds great joy in helping innovators translate their visions into executable strategies and designs. More than anything else, though, Ryan is a proud husband and father.

ASU STEM Career Camp Summer 2015

Talking to children about careers in gaming

Jake Martin shares on his role as a game design consultant for the Center for Games & Impact.

This week the Center for Games & Impact team spent a day with a group of middle school children as part of their summer STEM career camp experience. The students were interested in what it takes to get started in a career in game design and development.

The morning started with sharing about how games are fun and entertaining and can also be used to teach complex information as part of the game experience. The team gave the students an overview of their background, education, and experiences and then they played the award winning Atlantis Remixed: The Mystery of Taiga River, a 3D immersive game designed to teach students water quality science concepts by taking on the role of scientist and solving the mystery of why the fish in Taiga River are dying.

“Our team took care to bring diversity to the kids’ understanding of the gaming career world,” said Dr. Anna Arici, director of the Quest2Teach project at Arizona State University Teachers College. “The kids were very interested to hear about the different ways the members of our team have put together successful careers in making games from project management, development, producing, art, and marketing.”

career camp students playing video game

Campers play ARX: The Mystery of Taiga River and see first-hand a game designed by the Center’s team and how games are fun and educational.

Questions from the campers centered on what kinds of skills and activities the Center’s team focused on when they were middle and high schoolers. There were also lots of questions about how to get started in coding and art for games.

Here are some resources for you, and the children in your life who might be interested in careers in gaming, to get started on this summer:

CGI awarded ETS grant for game-based assessment project

Transformational Play

Games can be designed to enable players to step into different roles, confront a problem, fail safely, make meaningful choices, and explore the consequences.

The Arizona State University (ASU) Center for Games & Impact (CGI) has been awarded a grant with Educational Testing Service (ETS) to explore the affordances of game-based assessments, with a focus on informing future design and development of interactive computer tasks for National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) assessments.

“In our project, we will build a new game-based assessment item using Unity3D technology to engage learners within in a 3D role-playing game scenario that they are invested. Here, they will be demonstrating what they are able to do by working through a game scenario in which they are making decisions, receiving scenario-based feedback, and having opportunity to optimize their decision.” said Sasha Barab, Professor and Pinnacle West Presidential Chair in the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College at Arizona State University, and Director of the ASU Center for Games & Impact.

3D World Image for ETS Blurb

Student learner navigating 3D environment.

The game-based assessment system proposed would reveal more than an individual’s ability to identify a right answer; instead, it would provide data on the individual’s ability to use what they know to solve a problem in which they are invested, as well as their ability to leverage and optimize their performance using consequential feedback from the scenario. This will allow learners to reveal a greater range of ability, at the same time making the test-tasking situation a positive experience for all.

“The Center’s hope is that this is the first stage of an initial set of game-based strategies focused on enhancing the quality, meaning, and enjoyment of large-scale assessments,” added Barab.

Project development will begin in late spring and will continue through 2015.

The Center for Games & Impact (CGI) mission is to investigate, innovate, and cultivate game-infused solutions to society’s biggest challenges with the goal of unleashing the unique power of videogames to create sustainable solutions for society’s biggest social, cultural, scientific, economic and educational challenges.

PBS Kids’ new online world launches (via USA Today)

Prof. Reed Stevens Talk “Cyborg Learning” on 4/23 at ASU

RSVP below to join us to hear Professor Reed Stevens talk, “Cyborg learning: How our increasingly mobile and networked lives transform the possibilities for learning and education.” This event is sponsored by the Center for Games & Impact, ASU Teachers College, and ASU Learning Sciences Institute.

Description: In this talk, Professor Reed Stevens will borrow the provocative trope of cyborg—a functioning system part human, part machine—to explore what are superficially acknowledged but theoretically and empirically underdeveloped issues for learning and education.Drawing on ideas from distributed cognition and actor network approaches, he will argue that “there’s an app for that” and “just Google it” barely scratch the surface as metonyms for both what and how our lives are being reorganized by our cyborg learning experiences. We explore, work, navigate, search, connect with each other, and play in an ever increasingly media- and information-saturated world. Furthermore, our cyborg learning experiences are thoroughly mediated, as he will show from a decade-long program of research on everyday youth media practices. Taken together, these phenomena have theoretical and methodological implications for research on learning and cognition. Finally, the reality of cyborg learning has massive, uncomfortable implications for 19th and 20th century models of schooling, which obdurately persist. These implications will be considered and possibilities of designing for cyborg learning will be presented.

Event Details:

  • Date: Thursday, April 23, 2015
  • Time: 10:00 AM to 11:30 AM (MST)
  • Location: University Club At ASU (Heritage Room), 425 East University Drive, Tempe, AZ 85281 (click for map)
  • Notes: Refreshments will be served. Click here to view the event flyer.
  • For more information on Dr. Stevens work visit:

Reed StevensSpeaker Bio: Reed Stevens is a Professor of Learning Sciences at Northwestern University. As an ethnographer of everyday experience, Stevens conducts field studies exploring how learning, thinking, and joint action are comparatively organized in range of cultural settings. A leading goal of these studies is to understand the ways that individuals, groups, and standing cultural practices organize and sustain productive activity and, in particular, how people learn together. In the past two decades he has conducted field studies spanning classrooms, professional workplaces, homes, and museums. Topics of prior work have included: STEM learning in and out school, designing by young people and by professionals, learning in families, and media practices among children including video game play, television viewing, and use of mobile devices. Insights from these studies inform designs of new learning technologies and new learning experiences, in both school and out-of-school settings. A current widely adopted project is FUSE Studios (, funded by the Macarthur and National Science Foundations. Stevens has co-led two NSF Centers, one focused on engineering learning (CAEE) and one focused on learning in and out of schools (LIFE). He has expertise with a range of field methods with special expertise in video interaction analysis methods. In 2004 he was awarded the Jan Hawkins Award for Early Career Contributions to Humanistic Research & Scholarship in Learning Technologies from AERA. In 2000 he created the video annotation software VideoTraces, among the first tools of its kind.

How ‘Minecraft’ is Transforming Developing Cities Around the World (via Mashable)

Wash Away Mobile Game Challenge by UBS Optimus Foundation (via Innocentive)

Learn more about the Wash Away Mobile Game Challenge by UBS Optimus Foundation at via Innocentive:

“AWARD: $20,000 USD | DEADLINE: 6/19/15 | ACTIVE SOLVERS: 19 | POSTED: 3/23/15 In the Southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, 5 phones exist for every 2 toilets.

Even in areas with toilets, a lack of education and understanding about proper use has led to 60% of the population practicing open defecation. As a key factor in debilitating health and social inflictions, open defecation is one of the facets that has resulted in an infant mortality rate of 36/1000 (a fifth of these deaths from sanitation related illnesses). This Challenge requires Solvers to present their ideas for a mobile phone game which can educate 5-14 year old children about better hygiene practices and persuade them to instinctively use sanitation facilities rather than defecate in the open. This is a Theoretical Challenge that requires only the submission of a completed application form.”

Click here to read the full challenge brief and visit the Center for Games & Impact Innovation Lab with your game ideas and for support in developing a proposal.

Learning, Literacies and Technologies at ASU Teachers College

ASU Teachers College’s graduate programs are listed in the top 20 (among 245 public and private graduate programs nationwide) of the 2015 U.S. News & World Report Best Graduate Schools rankings released earlier this year. In Arizona, the Teachers College ranks first among graduate programs in the state. Masters candidates and graduates looking to take educational transformation, innovation, and research to the next level are invited to learn more about and apply to the ASU Teachers College new Doctor of Philosophy in Learning, Literacies and Technologies.

Kelly Tran, Graduate Student Fellow

Kelly Tran, Graduate Student Fellow

Teachers College graduate student, Kelly Tran, said she chose the Learning, Literacies and Technologies (LLT) program specifically for the award-winning faculty, including Dr. Elisabeth Gee, associate director for the Center for Games & Impact and Tran’s adviser since joining the program.

“The support we have received as first year doctoral students has been tremendous, and it is clear that the new LLT program has been made a priority,” said Tran who is also a graduate student fellow with the Center, “It’s rare to have such access to mentorship and resources. I’ve learned more about research by working on social impact and games projects than I ever expected to my first year.”

“We are really proud to be a part of ASU’s Teachers College and many of the initiatives that the Center has been able to advance as part of our mission to investigate game-infused solutions to society’s biggest challenges, focus on innovating and transforming education in the United States and around the world. Among the reasons we can carry out our research successfully the exemplary graduate students LLT students we have working with us this year. We are excited to work with new LLT program students in the next year as the program grows,” said Sasha Barab, executive director for the Center for Games & Impact.

From the ASU Teachers College Website:

The [LLT] program draws from a rich array of theoretical perspectives, research traditions and content disciplines that enable graduates to address the complex nature of research in schools and other educational spaces, and advance their scholarly contributions to education. Students graduate equipped to develop interdisciplinary approaches to complex problems and issues.

View the LLT Program Guide for additional information including a list of program courses.

Enriching lives and minds through education (via ASU Teachers College)

ASU education initiatives win high-impact grants (via ASU News)

Game-based Approach to Teacher Education at ASU Builds Essential Skills (via Games and Learning)

The Center for Games & Impact is incredibly proud to announce that the Joan Ganz Cooney Center has officially released their case study about the innovative teacher training program Quest2Teach. This initiative is created in partnership by the Center, E-Line Media, the Sanford Inspire Program, and ASU Teachers College faculty and leaders including, Professor Jim Gee, Dean Mari Koerner, Kate Weber, and other ASU faculty and students.

“We are the first case study that Cooney is featuring in their series called “Teaching with Games,” which will profile five of the most creative programs out there aimed at teacher professional development,” said Dr. Anna Arici, director of the Quest2Teach program, “This is great visibility for the Center for Games & Impact, E-Line Media, and our collaborations with ASU, the MLF Teachers College, and Sanford Inspire to innovate teacher education.”


“One of the major trends within education is the idea of developing personalized learning tools that allow a student to develop skills at their own pace. But teaching a teacher how best to use newly created game-based tools takes a different kind of professional development.

That’s where Arizona State University’s Quest2Teach comes in…”

Click here for the full Quest2Teach profile on the Games and Learning website.

Click here to learn more about Quest2Teach.

Additional information is also featured on the Institute of Play’s website:

ASU unveils new center to study global education (via ASU Teachers College)

E-Line Scaling Learning Games and Impact (via Getting Smart)

Quest2Teach Teaching Tool Review (via Educade)

Starbucks, ASU team up for employee education program

*Cross-posted from ASU News:

June 15, 2014 – Starbucks and Arizona State University have announced the Starbucks College Achievement Plan, a powerful, first-of-its-kind program designed to unleash lifetime opportunity for thousands of eligible part-time and full-time U.S. partners (employees).

Starbucks ASUStarbucks chairman, President and CEO Howard Schultz hosted the first Partner Family Forum in the U.S. in New York’s Times Center and joined ASU President Michael M. Crow and U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to officially launch the Starbucks College Achievement Plan. This significant investment will create an opportunity for eligible partners to finish a bachelor’s degree with full tuition reimbursement for juniors and seniors, through a unique collaboration with ASU’s research-driven, top-ranked degree program, delivered online.

Through this innovative collaboration, partners based in the United States working an average of 20 hours per week at any company-operated store (including Teavana®, La Boulange®, Evolution Fresh™ and Seattle’s Best Coffee® stores) may choose from more than 40 undergraduate degree programs taught by ASU’s award-winning faculty, such as electrical engineering, education, business and retail management. Partners admitted to ASU as a junior or senior will earn full tuition reimbursement for each semester of full-time coursework they complete toward a bachelor’s degree. Freshmen and sophomores will be eligible for a partial tuition scholarship and need-based financial aid for two years of full-time study. Partners will have no commitment to remain at the company past graduation.

“In the last few years, we have seen the fracturing of the American Dream,” said Schultz. “There’s no doubt, the inequality within the country has created a situation where many Americans are being left behind. The question for all of us is, should we accept that, or should we try and do something about it. Supporting our partners’ ambitions is the very best investment Starbucks can make. Everyone who works as hard as our partners do should have the opportunity to complete college, while balancing work, school and their personal lives.”

Starbucks’ investment is designed to support the nearly 50 percent of college students in the United States today who fail to complete their degrees due to mounting debt, a tenuous work-life balance and a lack of support. The Starbucks College Achievement Plan is created specifically for the company’s partners, and aims to provide an excellent academic foundation along with the flexibility, financing and comprehensive support that working students need to complete their degree.

“ASU is pioneering a new university model focused on inclusivity and degree completion, and Starbucks is establishing a new precedent for the responsibility and role of a public company that leads through the lens of humanity and supports its partners’ life goals with access to education,” said Crow. “We are very pleased to collaborate with Starbucks, who has impressed us with its strong commitment to its employees by providing this unique opportunity for a first-class college education. ASU has the vision, programs and scale to deliver it to Starbucks employees in every part of the country.”

ASU is gaining national attention for its efforts to increase access to high-quality, rigorous education with a focus on inclusion and impact. ASU is ranked the second most innovative school in the country by U.S. News & World Report, and ranks fifth in the nation in producing the best-qualified graduates, according to a Wall Street Journal survey of campus recruiters. Additionally, ASU is among the top producers of students awarded Fulbright scholarships to study and teach abroad, now ranking third in the nation for research institutions, tied with Princeton and Rutgers, according to The Chronicle of Higher Education.

“Our investment in high-quality education will attract and retain passionate partners who will move our company and our economy forward,” Schultz said. “ASU’s commitment to provide any talented student from any family background and any income level with a top-notch education makes it the singular partner for Starbucks.”

“I was put here to play music, and my goal is to change someone’s life – at least one,” said Abraham Cervantes, who has been a Starbucks barista for two years. “I want to teach at a university, and for that, you need a college degree. For me, the opportunity to earn my degree means I have the chance to teach others and make a better life for myself and my mom, who raised me and my three siblings on her own.”

In addition to financial support, Starbucks and ASU have developed an innovative retention model to support the unique needs of working students. Partners will have a dedicated enrollment coach, financial aid counselor and academic adviser to support them through graduation. The program will also include adaptive learning services to help students progress at the right pace for them; networking and community-building opportunities; and additional resources to help students plan their educations.

“We applaud Starbucks’ leadership and vision in the creation of the Starbucks College Achievement Plan,” said Lumina Foundation President and CEO Jamie Merisotis. “By so clearly investing in its talent, Starbucks is providing employees with the opportunity to complete college – an investment that will pay off for them as individuals, for the company and for the nation, for generations to come.”

“Those who’ve been clamoring for bold, new initiatives to reduce the barriers to quality higher education in America should applaud this announcement,” added Crow. “As others follow Starbucks’ example, we will hear those barriers come crashing down, to the lasting benefit of all Americans.”

The alliance between Starbucks and ASU was inspired by participation in the Markle Economic Future Initiative, co-chaired by Schultz and Markle President Zoë Baird, with Crow as one of its members. The initiative is committed to expanding opportunities that help Americans succeed in the global digital economy and reignite faith that the American Dream is achievable.

“This pioneering collaboration between Starbucks and ASU is exactly the kind of innovative action this country needs to help Americans reach their dreams,” said Baird. “This is a breakthrough in using online learning, backed by the financial resources that make it possible to participate. America urgently needs leadership to help people successfully transition to today’s economic realities. Howard Schultz and Dr. Michael Crow understand the challenges we are facing as a nation. Their commitment to the Markle Initiative and to embracing a more hopeful vision of America’s economic future is a path I encourage all leaders to follow.”

Watch Schultz and Crow address hundreds of partners in New York, live at the first Partner Family Forum in the U.S. on Monday, June 16, at 7:45 a.m. PT by visiting To watch a video, download photos and read interviews and stories with Schultz, Crow and partners, visit

Top 5 Learning Games from GLS 2014 Showcase

Gaming Research at ASU (via ASU Magazine)

Games & Learning Research From Role Playing to Minecraft

Join the Center for Games & Impact for a lunch time brown bag talk on Wednesday, May 21, 2014 at Noon on the ASU Tempe Campus (location details provided below). We are kicking off the summer with a Brown Bag talk from international friends joining us from Denmark’s games and learning research community.

Speaker Details:

Thorkild Hanghøj

Redesigning and Reframing Educational Scenarios for Minecraft within Mother Tongue Education
By Thorkild Hanghøj, PhD, Associate Professor, Aalborg University – Copenhagen
The presentation will present preliminary findings from an on-going research project on the use of Minecraft Edu within MTE at four Danish primary schools. The findings both concern the teachers’ redesign of the game scenario and the students’ reframing of their scenario-based game experiences. My background involves more than ten years of research on games and learning across a broad range of different game formats. My current focus is on the educational use ofMinecraft, the use of games in teacher education as well as the development of a theory for understanding game-based learning as a form of scenario-based education.

Marlene Nielsen

Settlers and Disabilities – Board Games as Tools for Learning, Strategy, and Social Repositioning
Marlene Nielsen, associated researcher, Aarhus University
Everyday interaction can be challenging for people with disabilities as implicit rules of social interaction can be hard to comprehend and act on. Board games offer explicit rules and generate an understanding of interaction, creating a frame for inclusion. Egmont Højskolen is a Danish boarding school for adults. The school is home for approximately 160 students of which up to one-third have mental and/or physical disabilities. At Egmont Højskolen, the course ‘The Brain Twister’ is centred on playing games. Here the teacher of the course applies board games, such as Settlers, as a tool for teaching the students about the art of playing games but also about cognitive strategies and inclusive social portioning. Based on anthropological research, we have conducted six months of fieldwork on ‘The Brain Twister’. In my presentation I will present our preliminary findings from the field, along with future plans and outlook of the project.

Andreas Lieberoth

The role of episodic memory in learning from on-location games
Andreas Lieberoth, ph.d. fellow, Aarhus University
Theories from cognitive neuroscience suggest that one-shot experiences in unique settings activates memory processes neurologically separate from everyday semantic and procedural classroom activities. Here, we present preliminary analysis of experiential factors that predict the use of episodic memory in recalling content from an on-location “mobile urban drama”, and “unfreezing” of students’ assumptions about historical inequality and democracy in an educational role-playing game played at Copenhagen’s 100-year-old naval fortifications.

Event Details:

  • Date/Time: Wednesday, 5/21 @ Noon
  • Location: Payne West, Rm 129, Arizona State University (Tempe, Ariz. 85287)
  • Speakers: Thorkild Hanghøj (Department of Communication, Aalborg University), Andreas Lieberoth and Marlene Nielsen (Interacting Minds Centre, Aarhus University)
  • Session Description: The Vikings are coming, and they will share on games and learning! From role playing to Minecraft, Thorkild Hanghøj, Marlene Nielsen, and Andreas Lieberoth will present 3 works in progress related to educational gaming research.

*Light refreshments will be provided.

RSVP here:

Review of the ASU Impact-Based Research Conference

Thinking About Impact Research at ASU (Getting Smart)

CGI Job Openings: Research Specialist

Quest2Teach wins ASU President’s Award for Innovation

Dr. Elisabeth Gee appointed CGI Associate Director

Having worked with the Center for Games & Impact since its inception, Dr. Elisabeth Gee, Ph.D., takes on a new role as Associate Director this month. Photo Credit: Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College

Having worked with the Center for Games & Impact since its inception, Dr. Elisabeth Gee, Ph.D., takes on a new role as Associate Director this month.
Photo Credit: Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College

Tempe, Ariz. — The Center for Games & Impact (CGI) is pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Elisabeth Gee, Ph.D., to the position of Associate Director. Gee, who has worked with the Center since its inception, will be involved in moving forward the Center’s mission of investigating, innovating, and cultivating game-infused solutions for positive social impact across interdisciplinary projects around the university, within the ASU Teacher’s College, and nationally and internationally with corporate and foundation partners.

“With the addition of Betty in a leadership position at the Center, we will be able to broaden our scope of work while enhancing the reputation and potential impact more nationally,” said Sasha Barab, executive director. “I see her as having the collaborative spirit and commitment to innovation and impact that lies at the core of our Center ethos. Her thinking about affinity groups and women in games more generally, are key to unlocking the power of games for impact, so it is with great enthusiasm that I welcome her collaboration.”

Gee cites her involvement with the Center as having connected her with other researchers with common interests and helping her to grow her vision for game studies classes at ASU. Over the last year and a half, Gee connected with Dr. Sinem Siyahhan, also a fellow at the Center, and together they created the Play2Connect intergenerational play research project. Gee also played an integral part in creating and securing approval for the Games & Impact Certificate program administered by the Center.

“In my new role, I am looking forward to getting to know the staff and projects better so that I can also help the rest of the world also get to know what we are doing with games and social impact,” said Gee. “Part of my charge as associate director is to support the staff in working toward the Center’s vision as well as maintaining alignment with the ASU Teacher’s College and larger university goals.”

Gee says in addition to maintaining and growing these strategic alignments, she also looks forward to the launch of the Center’s game-infused learning platform as part of the Games & Impact Certificate program experience, connecting researchers with like interests in games and social impact, and expanding the opportunities for graduate students to teach and research with the Center.

For more about Gee’s work visit:

The Center for Games & Impact (CGI) mission is to investigate, innovate, and cultivate game-infused solutions to society’s biggest challenges with the goal of unleashing the unique power of videogames to create sustainable solutions for society’s biggest social, cultural, scientific, economic and educational challenges.

Coding for impact with the Clinton Foundation, Microsoft Youthspark

Executive Director Sasha Barab talks codeathon participants through principles for designing technology social impact.

Executive Director Sasha Barab talks codeathon participants through principles for designing technology social impact.

The Center for Games & Impact, last week, prepared participants for a two-day coding for social impact event at Arizona State University. The Clinton Foundation Codeathon, also sponsored by Microsoft Youthspark, took place before the start of the Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U) 2014 at ASU. Titled “Code for Impact” (#codeforimpact), the event preceded the kickoff of CGI U and participants where challenged to spend 48 hours building unique digital prototypes inspired by CGI U Commitments to Action.

A team from the Center, along with Executive Director, Sasha Barab, and Director of Innovations, Adam Ingram-Goble, primed participants for their objective with an intensive, applied introduction to designing games for social impact.

“It was an honor to be invited to kick off the codeathon with the Clinton Foundation and Microsoft. At the Center we are passionately committed to empowering the next generation of our world’s leaders with the tools they need to create powerful social impact technology solutions,” said Barab, “Games are a powerful medium for igniting positive change in our world and the principles of impact game design can apply across interactive technology solutions.”

After a presentation from Director Barab, participants played through a paper-prototyped game design to practice identifying a message and refining game mechanics to contribute to that message.

Adam Ingram-Goble, director for innovations at the Center for Games & Impact, guides codeathon participants through a game design exercise.

Adam Ingram-Goble, director for innovations at the Center for Games & Impact, guides codeathon participants through a game design exercise.

“When we teach students game design we focus on a few key things to get them started. First, we want them to clearly define the learning or social impact objective for their game because this will inform the initial design and the subsequent iteration as things develop,” said Ingram-Goble, “Then, we want them to consider which game mechanic might lend itself to playing their message quickly so they can jump right into making and playtesting their games. The same ideas apply here and at game jams, hackathons, and codeathons when working under a tight deadline to test technology ideas for social impact.”

After the introductory exercise with the Center teams spent the rest of their time working on design concepts in the areas of water quality, medicine, and education. Day two of the event culminated with presentations from each team pitching and demoing their concepts to a panel of judges including Chelsea Clinton, vice chair of the Clinton Foundation. The winning team, MediText chose the medical focus area and pitched a design for helping doctors support patient adherence to following medication guidelines. The concept included a doctor dashboard, the use of a “virtual friend” to gently remind patients about these guidelines for the medications they take, and could even engage the patients friends and family if necessary.

Read the highlights from all the CGI U 2014 events at and around Arizona State University here.

Visit our Codeathon Facebook Album for pictures from the event:

About the Center for Games & Impact
The Center for Games & Impact (CGI) mission is to investigate, innovate, and cultivate game-infused solutions to society’s biggest challenges with the goal of unleashing the unique power of videogames to create sustainable solutions for society’s biggest social, cultural, scientific, economic and educational challenges.

Social Emotional Learning and Video Games

Impact Games & Middle School Curriculum

At the Center for Games & Impact we envision a world where we understand and optimize the unique power of games for learning and social impact. One of the central ways we work to make our vision a reality is through innovative games and game-infused solutions for education. Together with our studio partner, E-Line Media, we are building middle school cross-curriculum, game-based curricula and community packages that make Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards, along with 21st Century and social-emotional learning objectives engaging, relevant and empowering for both teachers and students. Our suite of games provides multiple storylines and entry points to contextualize the value of these standards and skillsets in terms of engaging and relevant research and impact projects.

Committee for ChildrenRecently, we have become more interested in the importance of social-emotional learning (SEL) as central to children’s success in school and beyond. Our partners at E-Line Media connected the Center with another organization committed to changing children’s education and lives through programs for preschool through grade 8. A team from Committee for Children, whose mission is “to foster the social and emotional development, safety, and well-being of children through education and advocacy,” visited the Center and taught us about their programs and research-based social-emotional learning materials to help children succeed in school and in life.

The Impact of SEL in Schools

Through SEL, students develop the knowledge, attitudes, and skills they need to recognize and manage their emotions, demonstrate care and concern for others, establish positive relationships, make responsible decisions, and handle challenging situations constructively. Recent analyses of SEL studies in schools indicate that it can have a positive impact on school climate and promote a host of academic, social, and emotional benefits for students, including:

  • better academic performance (achievement scores an average of 11 percentile points higher than students who did not receive SEL instruction),
  • improved attitudes and behaviors (greater motivation to learn, deeper commitment to school, increased time devoted to schoolwork, and better classroom behavior), fewer negative behaviors (decreased disruptive class behavior, noncompliance, aggression, delinquent acts, and disciplinary referrals), and
  • reduced emotional distress (fewer reports of student depression, anxiety, stress, and social withdrawal).

Putting SEL Together With Games for Impact

Committee for Children’s core program, Second Step, teaches skills for learning and social-emotional skills such as empathy, emotion management, problem solving, and self regulation. These skills empower children to protect themselves, work through problems with empathy and reason, and respect others’ points of view. Schools become safer and calmer places where teachers can teach and children can learn. Currently, Second Step is widely used around the world. ..

“We are increasingly interested in new ways to structure and deliver our programs and materials,” said Brian Smith, a Committee for Children research scientist. “There is a lot of interest in game-infused learning and moving more of what we do online, but it has been kind of a puzzle to us because we don’t come from that world. When we had the chance to talk to the teams at E-Line Media and the Center for Games & Impact, it opened our eyes to a lot of possibilities.”

“It is easy to see how our visions for a better future overlap,” said Sasha Barab, executive director for the Center for Games & Impact. “I can already see how we might create learning journeys for middle school students where players work through missions that teach Committee for Children’s Second Step program content, but our orientation to game-infused solutions means we don’t just leave the learning there. The idea that the roles a player takes on in-game are meaningful and transformative in our greater world is central to our program designs. We also can see the possibilities for exciting peripheral experiences where, as students master social emotional skills in-game, teachers are able to use hub areas and classroom dashboards to acknowledge the real-life practice of these skills in the classroom and around the school. Parents can get involved remotely in ways that might not have happened before. Classes, schools, and districts can all be connected to each other to set and track, validate, and inspire social change goals important to their communities. These are just a few of the ideas that come to mind and the possibilities are quite exciting.”

For more information:


The Center for Games & Impact (CGI) mission is to investigate, innovate, and cultivate game-infused solutions to society’s biggest challenges with the goal of unleashing the unique power of videogames to create sustainable solutions for society’s biggest social, cultural, scientific, economic and educational challenges.

E-Line Media is a publisher of game-based learning products and services that engage, educate and empower, helping to prepare youth for lives and careers in the 21st century. E-Line works with leading foundations, academics, nonprofits and government agencies to harness the power of games for learning, health and social impact. 

Take the Digital Games and Family Life Survey

the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame WorkshopAre you the parent or guardian of a child between 4 and 13 years of age? Do your children play video games? If so, you are eligible to take a survey about digital games and family life, co-sponsored by the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop and Arizona State University. Parents who complete the survey will have a chance to win a $50 gift card to The survey will take approximately 20 minutes.

The Digital Games and Family Life Survey will be the first of its kind to gain a sense of the role that digital games are playing in modern family life and routines, across both place and time.

After completing the survey, you will also have a chance to enter your email address into a drawing for one of four $50 gift cards. Entering this drawing is also voluntary. Your email address will not be used for any other reason than to contact you if you win the drawing. Your email address will not be connected in any way to your survey responses, and will be deleted immediately after the prize winner is selected and contacted.

Click here to take the survey

If you have any questions about this research, you may contact the Cooney Center at

James Paul Gee receives highest faculty award at ASU

Grad student turns love of video games into career

The CGI/E-Line game, Taiga, wins international game competition

News Release
Oct. 24, 2013

‘Taiga’ Wins International Game Competition
CGI/E-Line Media 3D scientific investigation game a leader in games for learning around the world

taigaTempe, Ariz. — The Mystery of Taiga River, created by the Center for Games & Impact and studio partner, E-Line Media, was selected as international winner for the Best Game at the 7th European Conference on Game Based Learning (ECGBL 2013) game competition earlier this month in Porto, Portugal.

“During the competition and throughout our time at the ECGBL 2013 conference we received so much positive feedback on our work with the two games we presented. It is such an honor for our team to win this award and to hear that our research implementing these games was the most compelling data some have seen at the conference,” said Dr. Sasha Barab, executive director for the Center for Games & Impact. “Our team works hard to produce a solid 3D game that includes deep learning science principles, is a beautiful and fun play experience, and offers extensive support to teachers implementing these games in their classroom.”

The Mystery of Taiga River is part of the Atlantis Remixed (ARX)  international learning and teaching initiative that uses 3D multi-user environments to immerse students in educational narratives. The Taiga River story is a game-based science curriculum that uses a water quality mystery to teach students, aged 10-14, concepts like scientific investigation and water quality indicators to solve the problem of dying fish in Taiga River and restore the health of the environment while balancing the needs of the community stakeholders like loggers, fishers and farmers.

“This award is a huge honor, as there were a large number of compelling and sophisticated games submitted to the competition,” said Dr. Anna Arici, senior researcher for the Center for Games & Impact and director of the Quest2Teach Project. “People were impressed with the diversity of learning, engagement, and transactive experiences that take place in our learning games. Not only are they beautiful and captivating, but the data and personal stories from students are wonderfully compelling. Students are working harder, solving complex and real scientific challenges, and feeling a huge sense of accomplishment. Where else can a 12-year-old be taken seriously as a water quality expert and get to decide the fate of a national park? It’s really empowering.”

Dr. Barab and Dr. Arici traveled to Portugal to present the Mystery of Taiga River in the games competition and give talks on their research from The Doctor’s Cure, another ARX game, which teaches children to write persuasively and build logic models as they explore the role that ethics play in science and technology, set within a 3D world and interactive narrative based on Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein.

Links to more information:
Atlantis Remixed
The Mystery of Taiga River
The Doctor’s Cure


Oct Brown Bag: Filament Games, Learning Games that Shine

Event Release
October 1, 2013

Filament Games

Please join the Center for Games & Impact for our October Brown Bag speaker event. We will hear from Filament Games’ Dan White, CEO, and Dan Norton, Lead Game Designer.

Event Details:

  • Speaker: Dan White, CEO, and Dan Norton, Lead Game Designer
  • Date/Time: Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2013, 12 p.m. – 1 p.m.
  • Location: Payne Hall Rm 129, ASU Tempe Campus

From Filament Games:

Filament Games is a game production studio that exclusively creates learning games. Our core competency is producing games that combine best practices in commercial game development with key concepts from the learning sciences. Accordingly, our senior staff is comprised of individuals who are equal parts game and instructional designers; a “dual literacy” that allows us to engineer authentic gameplay mechanics (rules and interactions that directly correlate with specific learning objectives). The titles in our portfolio – including 3D games, web games, and mobile games – cover a diversity of topics, ranging from the sciences to the humanities. Every game we make is subject to an extremely high standard of quality, extending to often neglected areas like accessibility, usability, efficacy, and visual/auditory fidelity.

Filament Games was founded in 2005 by game designer Dan Norton, education technology expert Dan White, and software engineer Alex Stone. In the time since, Filament has developed over 50 educational games for clients ranging from National Geographic’s JASON Science to Justice Sandra Day O’Connor’s iCivics Inc. We have also developed a proprietary isometric game engine called Flare that allows us to develop high quality Flash games efficiently and effectively.

PARTICIPATE | The Art of Minecraft

Bringing journalism, impact games together at ASU

Journalism and Impact Games 

Journalists at ASU's Cronkite School participating in a newsgame design workshop in March 2013.

Journalists at ASU’s Cronkite School participating in a newsgame design workshop in March 2013.

I started 2013 with a question: What would it mean to teach journalists to design newsgames? After talking the idea over with my colleagues at the Center for Games & Impact and connecting with Retha Hill and the New Media Innovation Lab at the Cronkite School we spent the spring 2013 semester working with journalism students to teach them to design interactive narrative games, a form that seemed appropriate to storytelling in journalism. The experience from that semester lead me toward a vision that in five years there should be a newsgame designer in every newsroom. Not a “conventional” game designer with a computer science or programming background, though. Newsgame designers should be journalists who design games to explore and explain complex news issues and privilege journalism’s practice and values in design, production, and distribution. All those computational, data, multimedia, and geek journalists out there working hard to learn, use, and keep ahead of technology, we want to see them add newsgame designer to their skill set.

Starting this fall we are still working on teaching game design to journalists, but eight months into operationalizing this idea my understanding of what impact games can do for journalism has grown. Coordinating this initiative between the Center and the Cronkite School has led me to want to see j-school students graduating with a specialty in game-infused journalism. This is the first in a series of posts exploring journalism and impact games and to start I would like to share what I learned in the past few years that started me down this path: Games can raise the bar for news and newsgames are a legitimate form of news. Various organizations (media-related and otherwise) have produced newsgames (budget balancers, for example, are common). Bogost, Ferrari, and Schweizer wrote the book on it. And academics are leading discussion and research on platforms for newsgames.

But, we have yet to see a regular, sustainable practice of newsgame design as a part of regular journalism.

What Impact Games Do Well

At the Center for Games & Impact we explore how good games connect people, inspire real-world action, build in real data around hypothetical experiences, and allow players to take on roles way out of their comfort zones. Some examples:

  • The transmedia game World Without Oil brought people together around a social context, asking them to role-play how they would change their lives during the first 32 weeks of a global oil crisis. It stimulated real world change as players took action by adjusting their real-lives according to the crisis, and the game stimulated conversation and solution sharing around the world as players participated in the game across media platforms through blogging, texting, posting images, and even voicemail.
  • The online game Spent is an interactive narrative where players become a single parent trying to make it through one month on $1000. Players must make choices about their jobs (that can be labor intensive, minimum wage, and temporary), where they will live, and whether they want to purchase healthcare, and then navigate scenarios like what to do if they, or their children, get sick, can take time off, and lose access to transportation. The game builds in both social media components and information about the impact of the everyday choices players must make. It is a short, immersive, intense role-playing scenario that can create a new understanding around a common social issue in their community, prompts them to share moments from their gameplay with their personal networks, and demonstrates how data points about poverty and homelessness can be built into the experience in an interactive, understandable way.
  • Foldit asks players to “solve puzzles for science.” The online game is accessible for players of all ages and while it does not turn a player into a research scientist, the player’s action of folding proteins can lead to scientific advances in eradicating diseases and improving medication in our world. The crowd-sourced research approach means scientists have access to thousands more possible protein folding solutions than they could come up with in the same amount of time on their own, while the game simultaneously provides players with an interactive biological and chemical educational opportunity through their gameplay.
  • The Walking Dead game asks players to make moral decisions in a post-apocolyptic survival setting. Similar to Spent, players have to make tough choices about everyday life, and live with the consequences of those choices, whether positive or negative. Player decisions impact the experience of the story for the rest of the game. The Walking Dead game also includes a key innovative feature. In contrast to Spent, where real-world information about the game’s subject matter was incorporated into the game experience, The Walking Dead game shows players something that arrises from game play data itself. At the end of each episode the game’s stats screen shows the player where their decisions fell in relationship to other players. The game’s designers understood that players enjoy knowing how other players think and used player data to reveal interesting things about the people in the world around us.

Impact game designers know that serious issues and fun experiences are not mutually exclusive and, when engineered the right way, play holds the power to transform society. By paying attention to game design journalists can elevate the power of interactive storytelling for news.

Do Games Trivialize the News

When asked whether newsgames trivialize the news my response is that the risk is not in the form, it is in the approach, as is the case for any piece of journalism. Games provide a platform for audience engagement different from reading. It is not that this is more or less thoughtful, as our innovation lab director, Adam Ingram-Goble, is teaching me, it is just that we can only design for the experience. We cannot control what the player brings to it, nor what they will take away.

In any case, I am most concerned with what journalists risk by ignoring the emerging newsgame environment and the possibilities this form of storytelling can provide. My goal to develop a practice of game-infused journalism is just as much about innovating and disrupting journalism as it is about meeting audiences where they are, and responding to the fact that newsgames are being produced from within and external to journalism already. Organizations are working with journalists to hold newsgames hackathons, which is great. But, many of these projects are incidental, and groups like Auroch Digital’s Game the News (GTN) project are producing serious games and calling them newsgames, but journalists (and, importantly, the values of journalism) are not necessarily a part of their production. Apple is repeatedly rejecting newsgames and asserting what games should and should not be used for. In response to having a game rejected from the App Store, GTN modified a game’s content for inclusion.

Sure, a game designer can do this. A designer’s goals may include access for as many people as possible to play the game.

But, would a journalist do this?

This behavior has huge implications for journalists. Journalists’ goals include informing audiences, sharing stories as factually as possible, and holding accountable entities that seek to block such activities for whatever reason. By not coordinating the practice of newsgames with intention, journalism is at risk for mutations in practice, understanding, and distribution channel access.

From Newsgame Designers to a Game-Infused Journalism Practice

So, back to that crazy idea from the start of this year, I have realized that adding newsgame design to the journalist’s toolbox is only a small part of what it means to bring journalism and impact games together. In the games and learning field they know that games are an entry point for computational skills that we can take advantage of while teach j-school students digital literacy for the journalism industry. Regardless of their specialities, journalists need to speak the language of technology.

My other questions at the start of this year were: What forms of journalism translate well into games? What kinds of games and mechanics might lend themselves well to journalism? Recently, I have been excited to read more about journalists investigating the use of games like this look at the practice of newsgames in Brazil, and this piece on games for journalism. And in working with the Cronkite School to see this practice become more intentional and coordinated I see that we need journalism to own the definition of newsgames, to set out the guiding principles for the practice, and to challenge others who build serious games with the label “news”. Since realizing there is so much more value to bringing impact games to journalism I have added new questions to guide my endeavor. Questions like: What does game-infused journalism look like? How can we use the principles and best practices of digital games and learning to train the next generation of journalists, whatever their specialties might be?

National Survey, Video Case Studies: Teacher Attitudes about Digital Games in the Classroom

Center for Games & Impact brings video games to life at the Phx Art Museum

Event Release
July 25, 2013

Center for Games & Impact brings video games to life at the Phoenix Art Museum
Creative play and impact experiences, events for museum visitors through Fall 2013

PHOENIX — The Center for Games & Impact (CGI) brings the art of gameplay to life at the Phoenix Art Museum in a series of events throughout “The Art of Video Games” exhibition, traveling here from the Smithsonian American Art Museum, through Sept. 29, 2013.

Media scholar Henry Jenkins said years ago, when his son turned on Super Mario Brothers for the first time, he knew “this was going to be a medium of enormous expressive capacity, of enormous social capacity. Video games were going to be the art form for the 21st century.”

The CGI team is collaborating with the Phoenix Art Museum to take the exploration of art and video games beyond the advances in visual aesthetics of the past 40 years. The events range from improvising new video game music together* while players are navigating thatgamecompany’s Flower (PS3), to working together to build digital art spontaneously in Mojang Studios’ Minecraft (multi-platform), to roundtable discussions on games and impact and how we can unlock the promise of digital learning for the future.

“Many players, while they love video games, may not have thought about the deeply creative play experiences they have with games. At the Center this kind of meaning drives what we do. In working with the Phoenix Art Museum we’re excited to provide Phoenix families with the chance to see how their interactions with video games are works of art, just as much as any one game is. The experiential nature of playing with this medium is something other media forms don’t offer, or can’t offer in quite the same way,” said Sasha Barab, CGI executive director, “We hope everyone will come play with us over the next few months and walk away thinking about the impact of gaming on our world in a whole new way.”

Games & Impact Art Museum Events 

  • July 31, 2013, 5 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. – Intergenerational Play Event *limited seating, register here
  • Sept. 7, 2013, 9 a.m. – How Games Teach, Educator Workshop *limited seating, register here
  • Sept. 20, 2013, 10 a.m. – The Art of Minecraft
  • Sept 21, 2013, 11 a.m. – Games & Impact Roundtable
  • Sept. 21, 2013 12 p.m. – The Art of Minecraft

Most events take place in the Great Hall of the Phoenix Art Museum (location map). Event costs are included with the price of general admission to the Museum though RSVP may be required depending on the event, check the Art of Video Games web page for more information. Contact, Sherry Thurston, administrative secretary, at (480) 965-0211, or by email at, with questions.

*Check out the Facebook album from our first day of public events: The Art of Video Games Live Demo and A Night in the Fields.

About the Center for Games & Impact
The Center for Games & Impact (CGI) mission is to investigate, innovate, and cultivate game-infused solutions to society’s biggest challenges with the goal of unleashing the unique power of videogames to create sustainable solutions for society’s biggest social, cultural, scientific, economic and educational challenges. 

Playing for Impact at Home
Level-up your play experience by downloading and using CGI Impact Guides for popular games such as Minecraft, Flower, and The Sims 3. Share your thoughts on the Games & Impact Facebook page or on Twitter (@gamesandimpact) with the tag #impactguides.

Games & Impact Online: | | @gamesandimpact | #gamesandimpact

Media Contact:
Juli James
(480) 965-0810

Play2Connect: Research Experience + Course Credit for ASU Undergrad and Grad Students

Play2Connect: Bringing Families Together Through Gaming

The Play2Connect project is looking for undergraduate OR master’s students who are interested in understanding the research process and developing their research skills in out- of-school settings. The focus of the research experience will be on investigating how families learn together at home, in museums, and other after school settings using digital media technologies, in particular video games. In addition to gaining research experience, students will gain insight into how learning takes place beyond the classroom, and how our understanding of such informal learning is inspiring innovative activities in school.

You will be working with Professors Elisabeth Hayes and Sinem Siyahhan in the Center for Games & Impact, Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College on a research project that is part of a national study of family media engagement.

Students can receive course credit in Education (TEL 494). Who is eligible to participate?

Students who…

  • Are Masters or Undergraduates (2nd year or beyond)
  • Have transportation (Gas will be compensated)
  • Are available to work 3 or more consecutive hours each week (Monday – Sunday)
  • Can make a semester commitment (with the option to continue in Spring 2014)  Are professional and responsible
  • Can speak fluent Spanish is a plus but not required

I’m interested! What do I do next?

Limited spots are available! If interested, please contact Professor Sinem Siyahhan ASAP for an application!

Games & Impact Unveils Certificate, Courses

Professor champions video gaming as valuable teaching tool for parents, teachers