Selene, MoonWorld Reach out to Learners

In 2010 we continued our extensive groundbreaking research into videogame and virtual world learning and design. Our work is centered on two projects.

In Selene: A Lunar Construction Game players learn how our Moon was formed by playing a videogame in which they create their own moon. While the players learn about concepts such as accretion and lava flows, we study the ways in which students can learn difficult science concepts through videogaming. We've also developed a real-time assessment tool for Selene to determine a player's state of flow (a measure of engagement in an activity) and when the students are most engaged.

Selene began as a NASA program to study how best to teach NASA science concepts through videogames, and now the research continues with funding from the National Science Foundation.

One of the highlights of Selene for 2010 was the introduction of Selene II , an improved, more robust form of the game.

The other major project on virtual learning is MoonWorld. This NASA-funded effort involved the creation of an island in the Second Life virtual world where players through their avatars can take part in missions to explore the lunar surface and perform a number of tasks related to the study of the Moon's geology. A major accomplishment in the MoonWorld project in 2010 was the creation of a version of the island in the OpenSims virtual world, which opens MoonWorld to learners previously restricted by the adult-only access of Second Life.

Researchers are studying how virtual worlds like MoonWorld can help learners expand their science knowledge through participation in online worlds.

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