Designing Outdoor Games

I’m pleased to announce that our research on mobile apps for supporting outdoor activities was funded by Virginia Tech’s Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Science (ICTAS). More to come, but here’s a description of the multi-university project:

This proposal assembles researchers with interests in education, gaming, science, art, history, and technology to explore and design educational games for outdoor settings. The proposed efforts will result in scientifically-grounded games focused on learning. The proposal addresses the ICTAS RFP by bringing together faculty at VT and HBCUs in an area likely to result in funding proposals. This proposal is related to the ICAT theme “Reimagining Education” by creating new educational games at the intersection of science, art, history, and technology.

The VT-HBCU team combines researchers and practitioners at Virginia Tech with those at two Virginia HBCUs: Norfolk State University (NSU) and Virginia State University (VSU). The three locations reflect differences in Virginia’s cultural, historical, environmental, and diversity aspects. VT PI McCrickard leads the Technology of the Trail initiative, exploring ways that technology enhances the outdoor experience, and he has led prior diversity-related initiatives with the partner HBCUs. Co-PI Morsi (NSU) has presented at GamiCon, the Frontiers in Education conference, and other top venues that reflect her expertise in research at the intersection of gaming and education. She will give lectures about necessary design elements to be included in successful educational games, and she will recruit and advise students to work on projects. Co-PIs Doswell (NSU) and McCrickard (VT) have worked together on prior Broadening Participation in Computing efforts, with external funding and publication success.  Co-PI Lee (VSU), a VT graduate, VSU department head, and CHILD Lab director, will sponsor projects in VSU’s new app development courses. The faculty are committed to pursuing government and corporate funding opportunities based on findings from the projects.

The proposed work will connect faculty and will identify students (both grad and undergrad) with interest in developing mobile games and educational software to help raise awareness of science, history, art, and the environment. Potential topics include: games for identification of plants; diversity-related historic trail walks; exercise games built on Fitbit data; and sharing trail experiences through photographs and videos. Games will be client-based, ensuring strong connections to science, history, and technology. Projects will be scoped by at least one PI and at least one client. Each possible client has worked with one or more of the PIs on similar projects in the past. We will actively recruit other clients from science, history, and art.

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