This week Erik Andersen of the University of Washington, will be the joint Information Science and Computer Science Colloquium Speaker. 

Title: Designing Engaging Learning Experiences

Abstract: A key challenge in education is designing engaging instructional content that can be tailored to the needs of each student while making as few assumptions as possible. I argue that we can do this by modeling the knowledge we want to teach, analyzing these models to generate learning materials automatically, and optimizing these materials through large-scale experimentation. In this talk, I will present my work in co-creating three video games for teaching fractions that have attracted seven million players: Refraction, Treefrog Treasure, and Creature Capture. I will show how we can use test input generation tools to automatically generate progressions of practice problems for teaching a procedural skill, and how this technique can produce a level progression for Refraction – all of the playable content in the game – that engages players for as long as the original expert-designed progression. I will then present a programming-by-demonstration system that can categorize and reproduce 28 systematic misconceptions demonstrated by real students across nine procedures in K-12 math. Finally, I will demonstrate data-driven optimization of engagement in two online games by presenting results from a multivariate test with 27,000 players that measured the impact of secondary game objectives on player behavior. Future directions include designing games to teach conceptual topics such as reading comprehension, foreign language, critical thinking, and programming, restructuring content to match learner skills and strategies, and discovering optimal learning pathways.

Erik Andersen is a Ph.D. candidate in Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Washington. He is a member of the Center for Game Science and a developer at Engaged Learning. His research aims to make education more engaging, automated, and adaptive. He is a co-creator of multiple educational video games that have attracted millions of players and received major awards from Disney and NHK. He has received three best paper nominations and a best student paper award at CHI, EDM, and AIIDE.

Refreshments will be served prior to the event at 3:45pm in front of Gates Hall New Visions Room 416.