November 3, 2011
Human Centered Design & Engineering (HCDE) Professor Cecilia Aragon began research earlier this month for a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant through the Office of Cyberinfrastructure (OCI), which coordinates and supports the acquisition, development and provision of state-of-the-art cyberinfrastructure resources, tools and services essential to the conduct of 21st century science and engineering research and education. Her project, Collaborative Games for Bioinformatics Education, aims to create a novel educational game that incorporates bioinformatics and cyberinfrastructure (CI) concepts aimed at early high school students.
Many educational games have been developed in recent years with a social networking component that have reached audiences of varying sizes. However, few of these have been designed specifically to teach CI concepts. Aragon’s research approach is novel not only because it will teach bioinformatics and CI, but because the research team will focus on eliciting emotions in a multi-player environment. Emotional responses within the game will be utilized to enhance peer-to-peer learning, and analyze the outcomes of the player experience.
The long-term benefits of this research to society include the uptake of concepts of cyber problem solving specifically among young underrepresented minorities and women, and the production of conceptual models that will help us to better understand the larger relationships between people, educational games, and infrastructural computational technologies more generally.