Thursday, October 25, 2012

Research Snapshot for Fall 2012

Now that I'm back in school full time, it's a good time to have a look at where I am research-wise.  Here are some of the projects I'm working on and what progress I've made.  (My last snapshot was from Fall 2011, before I went on maternity leave, and has more detail about some of these projects.)

Cognitive Advantages of Augmented Reality

My work in this area was finally published with a learning spin at E-Learn.  You can check out the final abstract and paper on my website or read about it on this blog to see some possible future directions others can take.

Gram's House

Since last fall, this project has moved forward a bit.  One of our team members ran a pilot project that just wrapped up.  The study compared a slightly updated version of Gram's House that tracks player stats, and a new game created by my colleague's students.  It will be very interesting to see the data that was collected during the study.

In the meantime, we are also finding some new researchers who want to try for an NSF (or other) grant to further develop the project.  We've got a few ideas on how to make our project stand out among the many trying to do things like this with games, and I'm excited to see where we go!

Although not everything is public right now, you can track the project on my website.

Teaching and Learning Computer Science With Story

This project centred on the study we did in this past year's mini-course.  The study went well and we learned some interesting things (like the fact that story had little or not benefit over context).  However, the paper we submitted to SIGCSE was not accepted.

We are in the process of deciding what to do next, but I am leaning toward taking what we learned, doing a follow up study, and submitting to next year's conference.  I am not sure if I'd like to stick to the middle school age group or try something in an undergrad class.

Nonlinear Story in Games

This is the thread of research that will be my thesis.  In fact, my supervisor liked the ideas I had put together while on leave, so I have a good, solid direction now! In a nutshell, I want to use procedural rhetoric as a way to break apart story episodes in a reasonable way, and learning theory to dynamically arrange those pieces as well as entire episodes.

Before delving too deeply into my specific ideas, however, I'm going to finish some work I started last fall.  We're looking at nonlinear stories (that is, stories whose events are presented out of chronological order) and comparing them to nonlinear stories in games.  We are trying to see why games shy away from more sophisticated uses of nonlinear stories, which may lead to new ideas on how to do it.

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