Discipline: Computer Sciences and Information Management
Subcategory: Computer Science & Information Systems
Jesus Tellez - University of Texas at El Paso
Co-Author(s): Kevin Lanahan, University of Texas at El Paso, El Paso, TX
According to McClaskey, current educational approaches focus on standardization of all performance based on regimented handouts . This approach has lead to a disconnect between lessons and interest from the students. Studies have shown that immersive technologies can bridge this gap. The Sol y Agua project consists of the creation of an educational game focused on augmenting the learning environment of middle schools students in the Southwest United States. The project proposes incorporating immersive technologies in the form of data visualization and virtual laboratories to increase interest in middle school students. The Sol y Agua game follows a “differentiated” educational approach where students learn at their own pace in their own way . A study by Collin-Lachaud shows that immersive technologies used in France’s Paléosite have a positive impact on visitors in terms of cognitive, emotional, play, functional and social value . Although the technologies evaluated in this study are more advanced than those developed for the Sol y Agua game, the study shows that there is potential positive impact through the use of immersive technologies in an educational game. The activities present in the Sol y Agua game can be separated into two categories: supplemental classroom activities and “field trip” activities. Supplemental activities are activities that can be performed virtually as well as in the classroom without much hassle, and “field trip” activities are those that are difficult to perform in a classroom environment, but are easily attainable in a virtual environment. For example, a pH measurement activity can be replicated within the classroom; however a drone flying activity cannot be performed without purchasing a drone and learning to fly it. By integrating the Sol y Agua game into middle school classrooms, we expect students to learn concepts and meet learning outcomes in a more efficient manner than traditional methods.
References:  McClaskey, J. (2001). Who’s Afraid of the Big, Bad TAAS? Rethinking Our Response to Standardized Testing. The English Journal, 91(1), 88-96. doi:1. Retrieved from http://0-www.jstor.org.lib.utep.edu/stable/821660. Last Accessed on October 14, 2016
 Collin-Lachaud, I., & Passebois, J. (2008). Do Immersive Technologies Add Value to the Museumgoing Experience? An Exploratory Study Conducted at France’s Paléosite. International Journal of Arts Management, 11(1), 60-71. Retrieved fromhttp://0-www.jstor.org.lib.utep.edu/stable/41064975. Last Accessed on October 14, 2016.
Funder Acknowledgement(s): National Science Foundation Smithsonian; Latino Center; Cyber-ShARE
Faculty Advisor: Monika Akbar, email@example.com
Role: I took part in developing several aspects of the game, as well as observing players as they demoed the game. I've done research into various things that were needed for the game, such as how to measure pH as well as took a trip to the local desalination plant for more information.