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EXP: GeoGames – A Virtual Simulation Workbench for Teaching and Learning through a Real-World Spatial Perspective: 1124037

Principal Investigator: Karl Ola Ahlqvist
CoPrincipal Investigator(s): Neelam Soundarajan, Rajiv Ramnath, Kathryn Plank
Organization: Ohio State University

This project is aiming to learn how to promote geospatial thinking skills and ability to use data gathered geospatially to solve complex problems. The technology being developed leverages on-line maps to situate scenarios in GeoGames so that learners have access to real GIS, remote sensing, socioeconomic, agricultural and other data and models as they engage with others to solve real-world problems in the GeoGame. The focus is on helping learners gain and use a spatial perspective in their thinking and problem solving. Geogames present real-world challenges that require large-scale data collected across geographical areas in game-like ways to draw in the learners; the learners solve problems using the data found through navigating the maps and in conjunction with each other. Research questions being investigated are about how to use such games, visualizations, and data to engage learners in learning in the context of real-world problem solving, learning to solve problems of real-world complexity, and learning to use geospatial representations. The innovation integrates the strengths of geospatial technologies, gaming, and social networking to promote learning about real-world facts and also complex, interlinked human, environmental, and technological systems in an experiential, collaborative, and engaging way. The focus is at the college level but ultimately could be appropriate for high-schoolers, middle-schoolers, and the general population.

Policy people tell us that a geospatial perspective is essential in addressing many of society’s pressing issues (e.g., economics, agriculture, climate change, transportation, relief, urban planning, emergency services). This approach of GeoGames may provide an engaging and broadly-applicable way to educate future policy makers in taking a global perspective on both the global and local problems they address. The approach may also provide a way to help the public appreciate the connectedness of the world, the broad implications of local policy decisions, and the issues that must be considered in policy making.

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