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Quest2Teach: The Impact of Immersive Games 
To Bridge Theory and Practice in Teacher Education 
ANNA ARICI 
DIRECTOR OF QUEST2TEACH & 
LEARNING SCIENTIST, CENTER FOR GAMES & IMPACT 
MARY LOU FULTON TEACHERS COLLEGE 
ARIZONA STATE UNIVERSITY 
SASHA BARAB 
DIRECTOR OF THE CENTER FOR GAMES & IMPACT 
PINNACLEWEST CHAIR OF EDUCATION 
MARY LOU FULTON TEACHERS COLLEGE 
ARIZONA STATE UNIVERSITY
Transactive Learning 
“a communicative action or 
activity involving two 
parties or things that 
reciprocally affect or 
influence each other— 
changing both.” 
John Dewey 
• ‘Learning by doing’ isn’t new, but technology is 
giving educators around the world unprecedented 
access and avenues to engage their students’ in 
meaningful ways.
Videogames as 21st Century Curricula 
Videogames as a learning context offer …. 
• entire worlds in which learners are central, 
important, active participants; 
• a place where the actions one takes has a 
significant impact on the world; 
• and a place in which what you know is directly 
related to what you are able to do and, 
ultimately, who you become.
Transformational Play 
an experiential state that involves: 
(a) projection into the role of a character who, 
(b) is recruited into a partly fantastical problematic 
context, 
(c) must apply conceptual understandings, 
(d) to transform the context, 
(e) and, ultimately, oneself. 
It involves positioning … 
• Person With Intentionality 
• Content With Legitimacy 
• Context With Consequentiality 
(Barab, Gresalfi, & Arici, 2009 
Barab, Gresalfi, & Ingram-Goble, 2010)
Learning scientists 
Game designers, publishers 
Donors, domain experts, educators 
Multi-Stakeholder 
Collaboration
www.quest2teach.org 
Quest2Teach is a series of game-infused 3D virtual learning curricula and 
socio-professional network designed for teacher education, to help bridge 
between educational theory and classroom practice.
In Quest2Teach, students create a professional avatar, play out roles, solve 
complex problems, fail safely, and see the impact of their decisions while 
gaining fluency in theories-in-action. Pre-service teachers evolve their 
professional identity in a variety of narrative-based 3D role-playing 
scenarios, each with a particular theoretical focus, and embedded within a 
larger experience-based curricula and network.
Joan Ganz Cooney Center (Sesame Workshop) 
Article and Video on Quest2Teach 
• The Cooney Center chose Quest2Teach as the first in their 
documentary series of the top 5 innovations in Teacher 
Education. 
• Here’s the article and resources: 
http://www.gamesandlearning.org/2014/10/14/game-based- 
approach-to-teacher-education-at-asu-builds-essential- 
skills 
• Their film on Q2T: http://youtu.be/LHKRLIi47DQ
Protagonist in a nuanced 
and authentic Narrative
‘Diving into Data’ game: 3DM 
• slide 7 
• 20 seconds
• In-game tools 
help learners 
interrogate 
and interpret 
the scenarios 
and theories 
• No single ‘correct’ 
game interpretation 
• Players can flag and 
question the game 
scores 
• Means for deeper 
discussion of the 
theories
Games for Learning aren’t software, 
they’re curricula… 
All of the games we create are maximized when driven by an 
instructor, within a blended course framework, with some 
elements student-directed and some instructor-guided, and all 
being applied towards their real world experiences.
Teacher Toolkit & Dashboard
Small “g” games 
Our ‘video games’; self-contained and 
completeable; optimized to engage learners in a 
particular educational theory in a safe, simulated 
and structured environment. 
(A distinction from CGI co-founder Jim Gee) 
Big “G” game 
An open-ended, flexible ‘meta-game’ structure 
and affinity spaces that foster locally-driven 
extensions and adaptations in support of real-world 
goals and outcomes. 
• Data and Analytics Dashboard 
• Social Communities/Affinity Spaces/Network 
• Learning trajectories and gamification layers 
• Smart/Modding Tools
Q2T Socio-Professional Network
Quest2Teach 3D Hub
DBIR Research Cycles 
• A series of multiple Design-Based Implementation 
Research (DBIR) cycles over 4 semesters 
• The three Q2T games and network were 
implemented by faculty and engaged by over 800 
pre-service teachers in the Mary Lou Fulton 
Teachers College (MLFTC) in intact classrooms. 
• Research cycles alternated with design cycles, 
with the research findings informing the design 
iterations, as well as the ecology of 
implementation.
Demographic Findings 
Digital natives are Not always Gamers 
Our Teachers College Demographic data showed: 
• Most common use of computers was for homework or 
social networks. 
• Only 9% reported that they only played video games 1-5 
hours/week. (Compared with 70% nationally, across all 
majors) 
• 87% of students indicated that they rarely played video 
games. 
• Only 5% described themselves as a ‘gamer’ 
N= ~800 pre-service undergraduate students
Positive Results 
• All studies showed significant learning gains in targeted 
standards, and significant increases in engagement. 
• Nearly two-thirds of students (62%) reported that the game 
helped them to see themselves as a professional teacher 
more than they did before playing it. 
• 45% of students reported that the games helped increase 
their level of confidence in their future teaching ability. 
• 52% of students 
indicated that the 
games helped increase 
their commitment to 
future teaching.
Comparison Findings: Professionalism Game 
Regular class setting 
• “This unit made me more aware of my actions” 
• “It taught me about a lot of different professional situations” 
Summary: learned ‘about’ professionalism, and became ‘aware’ 
Game-infused class 
• “This game allowed me to practice how to be respectful in a disagreement, 
it gave me skills in interpersonal relationships and how to work better with 
others.”” 
• “This experience gave me the language to approach new and challenging 
situations in my professional career.” 
Summary: learned ‘skills’, ‘language’, active rather than passive voice 
first-person protagonist in learning new skills
Findings: Authentic practice 
When students were asked what they learned in this unit that will stay with 
them, many responded they felt better equipped to handle difficult interactions 
in the real world. 
“I like how this game gave us scripts for 
handling conversations. I think that’s 
huge. Sometimes we know what we’re 
supposed to say but it’s hard to find the 
words. It was great just reading the 
various options and seeing there are a lot 
of different ways to approach it.” 
Students said that the game felt more real than the role play they did in class 
(around student mentoring) because they knew their fellow students would 
basically follow a supportive and predictive script.
Findings: Identity as a Professional 
Game role supported Identity shift from Student to Teacher 
Several students felt that this game was the first time they felt like they saw 
themselves as a teacher, rather than a student. 
“This was a significant shift out of not being a student anymore, you know? We are 
in the professional world now, and we need to see ourselves as teachers. This game 
was like a shift into ‘the real life’, and people can relate to these struggles.”
Findings: Relevance to Real World 
Students participating in their student teaching shared that they had already 
experienced conflicts very similar to these scenarios, and that the virtual 
experience reflected the real world. 
“I just want to say that I 
definitely give a lot of points for 
relevance, because a lot of 
these situations were like things 
that I’ve already experienced. I 
was immediately able relate to 
some of these situations.” 
Unlike the real world, students really appreciate the ability to fail safely, play 
again to see different outcomes, and gain extra practice and fluency in these 
ideas before student teaching.
Findings: Ecology of Implementation 
Some students initially need more support with Technology 
• Reframing gaming as a ‘simulation’ (instead of a video game) went far in shifting 
reactions from hesitancy to enthusiasm. 
• We built in explicit supports in the 3D worlds, with tutorials initiated through player 
inactivity, and guidance from in-game characters, but they quickly became adept. 
Scope and Sequence in Program: ‘Just-in-Time’ vs. ‘Just-in-Case’ 
• Very different reactions from students in their 1st semester vs Student teachers when 
playing the Professionalism game. 
First semester student: “I would never have a 
conflict with my mentor. I’m just going to roll 
over and do whatever she says.” 
Student Teacher reaction: 
“I don’t think if we played this last semester or 
last year, any one of us would have taken it as 
seriously, but now we know, this is for real!”
Findings: Ecology of Implementation 
Network was redundant 
with their own 
• They already had a (more 
divergent) network 
created in Facebook 
• We needed to brainstorm 
alternative network 
services we could provide 
to meet actual needs. 
Instructor influence 
• Instructors welcomed and embraced the innovation 
• The few with negative attitudes passed those on to students 
• Teacher support and training is essential, and they are eager for it.
Summary of Research Findings 
• All studies showed significant learning & 
engagement gains 
• Significant shift from identifying self as 
‘student’ to seeing self as a ‘teacher’ 
• Students reported increased confidence in 
going out to real world field placement. 
• Students reported increased commitment 
to teaching as future profession.
Summary of Ecology of Implementation 
Findings & Changes 
Expectation changes: ‘Simulation’, not a Video Game. Highlight the bridge this 
makes between theory and practice. 
Semester changes: Time it so they have enough context and experience to make 
meaning, Just-in-Time. 
Design changes: Supports and tutorials in the 3D worlds and network. 
Network changes: Encourage participation by meeting their real needs, with 
meaningful reasons for participation. 
Instructor Training: New innovations call for new pedagogies and lots of support. 
Big G Infrastructure: Be responsive to the learners and build in flexibility. Allow 
the instructors to mod for local needs and goals. 
Ongoing as we scale, with the goal of adapting to local needs and infrastructures.
Achieving Impact 
Disruptive 
Innovations 
Design-Based 
Implementation 
Research 
Tech-Enabled 
Services
Questions or Guest Accounts? 
Contact: anna.arici@asu.edu or visit www.quest2teach.org

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Quest2Teach: The Impact of Immersive Games to Bridge Theory & Practice in Teacher Education

  • 1. Quest2Teach: The Impact of Immersive Games To Bridge Theory and Practice in Teacher Education ANNA ARICI DIRECTOR OF QUEST2TEACH & LEARNING SCIENTIST, CENTER FOR GAMES & IMPACT MARY LOU FULTON TEACHERS COLLEGE ARIZONA STATE UNIVERSITY SASHA BARAB DIRECTOR OF THE CENTER FOR GAMES & IMPACT PINNACLEWEST CHAIR OF EDUCATION MARY LOU FULTON TEACHERS COLLEGE ARIZONA STATE UNIVERSITY
  • 2. Transactive Learning “a communicative action or activity involving two parties or things that reciprocally affect or influence each other— changing both.” John Dewey • ‘Learning by doing’ isn’t new, but technology is giving educators around the world unprecedented access and avenues to engage their students’ in meaningful ways.
  • 3. Videogames as 21st Century Curricula Videogames as a learning context offer …. • entire worlds in which learners are central, important, active participants; • a place where the actions one takes has a significant impact on the world; • and a place in which what you know is directly related to what you are able to do and, ultimately, who you become.
  • 4. Transformational Play an experiential state that involves: (a) projection into the role of a character who, (b) is recruited into a partly fantastical problematic context, (c) must apply conceptual understandings, (d) to transform the context, (e) and, ultimately, oneself. It involves positioning … • Person With Intentionality • Content With Legitimacy • Context With Consequentiality (Barab, Gresalfi, & Arici, 2009 Barab, Gresalfi, & Ingram-Goble, 2010)
  • 5. Learning scientists Game designers, publishers Donors, domain experts, educators Multi-Stakeholder Collaboration
  • 6. www.quest2teach.org Quest2Teach is a series of game-infused 3D virtual learning curricula and socio-professional network designed for teacher education, to help bridge between educational theory and classroom practice.
  • 7. In Quest2Teach, students create a professional avatar, play out roles, solve complex problems, fail safely, and see the impact of their decisions while gaining fluency in theories-in-action. Pre-service teachers evolve their professional identity in a variety of narrative-based 3D role-playing scenarios, each with a particular theoretical focus, and embedded within a larger experience-based curricula and network.
  • 8. Joan Ganz Cooney Center (Sesame Workshop) Article and Video on Quest2Teach • The Cooney Center chose Quest2Teach as the first in their documentary series of the top 5 innovations in Teacher Education. • Here’s the article and resources: http://www.gamesandlearning.org/2014/10/14/game-based- approach-to-teacher-education-at-asu-builds-essential- skills • Their film on Q2T: http://youtu.be/LHKRLIi47DQ
  • 9.
  • 10. Protagonist in a nuanced and authentic Narrative
  • 11. ‘Diving into Data’ game: 3DM • slide 7 • 20 seconds
  • 12. • In-game tools help learners interrogate and interpret the scenarios and theories • No single ‘correct’ game interpretation • Players can flag and question the game scores • Means for deeper discussion of the theories
  • 13.
  • 14. Games for Learning aren’t software, they’re curricula… All of the games we create are maximized when driven by an instructor, within a blended course framework, with some elements student-directed and some instructor-guided, and all being applied towards their real world experiences.
  • 15. Teacher Toolkit & Dashboard
  • 16. Small “g” games Our ‘video games’; self-contained and completeable; optimized to engage learners in a particular educational theory in a safe, simulated and structured environment. (A distinction from CGI co-founder Jim Gee) Big “G” game An open-ended, flexible ‘meta-game’ structure and affinity spaces that foster locally-driven extensions and adaptations in support of real-world goals and outcomes. • Data and Analytics Dashboard • Social Communities/Affinity Spaces/Network • Learning trajectories and gamification layers • Smart/Modding Tools
  • 19. DBIR Research Cycles • A series of multiple Design-Based Implementation Research (DBIR) cycles over 4 semesters • The three Q2T games and network were implemented by faculty and engaged by over 800 pre-service teachers in the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College (MLFTC) in intact classrooms. • Research cycles alternated with design cycles, with the research findings informing the design iterations, as well as the ecology of implementation.
  • 20. Demographic Findings Digital natives are Not always Gamers Our Teachers College Demographic data showed: • Most common use of computers was for homework or social networks. • Only 9% reported that they only played video games 1-5 hours/week. (Compared with 70% nationally, across all majors) • 87% of students indicated that they rarely played video games. • Only 5% described themselves as a ‘gamer’ N= ~800 pre-service undergraduate students
  • 21. Positive Results • All studies showed significant learning gains in targeted standards, and significant increases in engagement. • Nearly two-thirds of students (62%) reported that the game helped them to see themselves as a professional teacher more than they did before playing it. • 45% of students reported that the games helped increase their level of confidence in their future teaching ability. • 52% of students indicated that the games helped increase their commitment to future teaching.
  • 22. Comparison Findings: Professionalism Game Regular class setting • “This unit made me more aware of my actions” • “It taught me about a lot of different professional situations” Summary: learned ‘about’ professionalism, and became ‘aware’ Game-infused class • “This game allowed me to practice how to be respectful in a disagreement, it gave me skills in interpersonal relationships and how to work better with others.”” • “This experience gave me the language to approach new and challenging situations in my professional career.” Summary: learned ‘skills’, ‘language’, active rather than passive voice first-person protagonist in learning new skills
  • 23. Findings: Authentic practice When students were asked what they learned in this unit that will stay with them, many responded they felt better equipped to handle difficult interactions in the real world. “I like how this game gave us scripts for handling conversations. I think that’s huge. Sometimes we know what we’re supposed to say but it’s hard to find the words. It was great just reading the various options and seeing there are a lot of different ways to approach it.” Students said that the game felt more real than the role play they did in class (around student mentoring) because they knew their fellow students would basically follow a supportive and predictive script.
  • 24. Findings: Identity as a Professional Game role supported Identity shift from Student to Teacher Several students felt that this game was the first time they felt like they saw themselves as a teacher, rather than a student. “This was a significant shift out of not being a student anymore, you know? We are in the professional world now, and we need to see ourselves as teachers. This game was like a shift into ‘the real life’, and people can relate to these struggles.”
  • 25. Findings: Relevance to Real World Students participating in their student teaching shared that they had already experienced conflicts very similar to these scenarios, and that the virtual experience reflected the real world. “I just want to say that I definitely give a lot of points for relevance, because a lot of these situations were like things that I’ve already experienced. I was immediately able relate to some of these situations.” Unlike the real world, students really appreciate the ability to fail safely, play again to see different outcomes, and gain extra practice and fluency in these ideas before student teaching.
  • 26. Findings: Ecology of Implementation Some students initially need more support with Technology • Reframing gaming as a ‘simulation’ (instead of a video game) went far in shifting reactions from hesitancy to enthusiasm. • We built in explicit supports in the 3D worlds, with tutorials initiated through player inactivity, and guidance from in-game characters, but they quickly became adept. Scope and Sequence in Program: ‘Just-in-Time’ vs. ‘Just-in-Case’ • Very different reactions from students in their 1st semester vs Student teachers when playing the Professionalism game. First semester student: “I would never have a conflict with my mentor. I’m just going to roll over and do whatever she says.” Student Teacher reaction: “I don’t think if we played this last semester or last year, any one of us would have taken it as seriously, but now we know, this is for real!”
  • 27. Findings: Ecology of Implementation Network was redundant with their own • They already had a (more divergent) network created in Facebook • We needed to brainstorm alternative network services we could provide to meet actual needs. Instructor influence • Instructors welcomed and embraced the innovation • The few with negative attitudes passed those on to students • Teacher support and training is essential, and they are eager for it.
  • 28. Summary of Research Findings • All studies showed significant learning & engagement gains • Significant shift from identifying self as ‘student’ to seeing self as a ‘teacher’ • Students reported increased confidence in going out to real world field placement. • Students reported increased commitment to teaching as future profession.
  • 29. Summary of Ecology of Implementation Findings & Changes Expectation changes: ‘Simulation’, not a Video Game. Highlight the bridge this makes between theory and practice. Semester changes: Time it so they have enough context and experience to make meaning, Just-in-Time. Design changes: Supports and tutorials in the 3D worlds and network. Network changes: Encourage participation by meeting their real needs, with meaningful reasons for participation. Instructor Training: New innovations call for new pedagogies and lots of support. Big G Infrastructure: Be responsive to the learners and build in flexibility. Allow the instructors to mod for local needs and goals. Ongoing as we scale, with the goal of adapting to local needs and infrastructures.
  • 30.
  • 31. Achieving Impact Disruptive Innovations Design-Based Implementation Research Tech-Enabled Services
  • 32. Questions or Guest Accounts? Contact: anna.arici@asu.edu or visit www.quest2teach.org

Editor's Notes

  1. Games for learning aren’t based in any particularly new theory. Its really rooted in classics such as Vygotsky and being supported to act a head above yourself, and John Dewey with his ideas of Transactive learning. Chicago school- actually go build a structure. Students would see the outcomes of their actions immediately, which fed back into their understanding of the concept, but also their understanding of who they were in the world. But you can imagine that was hard to sustain. without the insurance liability of arming a classroom full of 10 year olds with hammers and nails.
  2. To better understand the theories at work in games for learning, we’ve developed the Theory of Transformational Play. We design our games based in these theories.
  3. So we decided, wouldn’t it be great to not only train teachers in these pedagogies, but to do it in their formative years of training? And also offer it as PD to in-service teachers. At that same time, the dean of ASU’s MLFTC, Mari Koerner was bringing together a stellar team of game scholars and learning scientists, with the goal of infusing innovation to the Teachers College. So 3 years ago, Quest2Teach began to form. Massive collaboration with really bright people, all of whom bring their own toolkits, affordances and expertise.
  4. Mastery approach, they can replay for better outcomes, not graded on final score, but up to instructor.
  5. Each game is related to a specific theory, which is already part of the teachers college curriculum and standards, and we embed these experiences within their relevant coursework. Brought in content area experts for each of the games
  6. What’s exciting about these gaming technologies is that they can create nuanced scenarios, where you are the protagonist with multiple trajectories through the game. Our students love this it’s a great way to engage them.
  7. Its not about the game knowing what is right or wrong, but about creating opportunities for conversation and engaging students in these theories in their coursework, as guided by an instructor, for maximum reflection and application to the real world and field experiences.
  8. Question the dynamics
  9. We’re acting under the assumption that these games These games are not meant to stand alone or replace anything, but instead to help instructors and faculty engage their students in more meaningful learning.
  10. No matter how sophisticated the backend management system for teachers, and unit plans we gave them, many teachers would take their students into the computer lab, have them log in, and then they’d go get coffee. And these were really exciting, inquiry-based teachers, who just didn’t understand their new role in these technologies. Another interesting finding, the teachers that typically came to us for games were 10-20 year veterans. Many were too overwhelmed in their early years of teaching to add something novel. The solution? Build these pedagogies and experiences into teacher education.
  11. And that’s really where the bridge from the virtual to real world takes place. Talking about applications, reflections on your own practice, and personal experiences from that local field placement, community and culture.
  12. Badges aren’t just token rewards, but they unlock new learning opportunities, because you’ve demonstrated your expertise. Give props to others, similar to endorsements in LinkedIn, to highlight that someone is doing really great work. Incredibly motivational.
  13. Really compelling. design-based implementation research cycles were used to simultaneously inform both learning theory and subsequent design iterations, as well as uncover the best practices for reaching our students with these innovations. Uncovering the optimal ‘ecology of implementation’ to really help our preservice teachers. The good news…. (on next slide)
  14. What’s really exciting, is that inexperience with games doesn’t matter! They are so bright and capable of learning these new technologies, they just needed the opportunity. The MLFTC provides that now through immersing students in these experiences during their pre-service education.
  15. Some interesting nuances came out in a comparison study, where we had them learn about Professionalism in the game or in a regular class setting, with similar activities in each. Students’ concept of professionalism greatly differed in its complexity and depth between the two different contexts. Students in the control classes were more passive, and learned ‘about’ these concepts. Students in the game classes were active protagonists, speaking from the 1st person, as if they had done these actions, and spoke of learning ‘skills’ and the necessary ‘language’. That is, they didn’t learn ‘about’ but instead actively experienced ‘how to do’.
  16. What are the best practices for delivering these new innovations? We’ve uncovered an ‘Ecology of Implementation’ or best context and practices for maximizing the take up and impact of these games for our pre-service teachers.
  17. We view these games, the network, and course curricula not as products, but tech-enabled services, where the immediate impact is clear, but will also grow deeper as it becomes part of the college’s culture and way of thinking and learning. Through ongoing DBIR, we make sure that these disruptive innovations can be taken up seamlessly by our students, to help give them the most innovative and transformational preparation possible.