Department Seminars

October 24, 2007
Guided Learning and Cognitive Skill Acquisition in Serious Games

H. Chad Lane, of the Institute for Creative Technologies at the University of Southern California, will deliver a CS seminar on Wednesday, October 24, at 3:30 PM in 322 ITTC.


Compelling arguments have been made regarding the potential of computer games for teaching and learning. For example, John Seely Brown has argued that the skills required for success in some massively multi-player games mirror those needed in many real-world contexts such as management and other leadership positions. On the topic of modern commercial games, James Gee makes the argument that they must incorporate principles of learning or risk failing in the marketplace. What are the elements of serious games and immersive learning environments that seem to support learning? How can techniques from artificial intelligence be applied to improve student performance and enhance learning?

In this talk, I will give examples that demonstrate how several modern games and simulations seek to achieve these goals and discuss their connections to established results from the learning sciences. I will also discuss our work at the Institute for Creative Technologies (ICT) to build immersive learning environments for ill-defined domains, such as intercultural competence, negotiation, and leadership. Much of this effort has relied on basic research into virtual humans that includes task representation and reasoning, and modeling emotions and natural language dialogue. Our research in intelligent tutoring systems focuses on using these models as a basis for the delivery of feedback, both real-time and after the fact, as well as for pedagogically-motivated experience manipulation. Unfortunately, there seem to be few systematic, rigorous evaluations of serious games and other kinds of immersive environments for learning, and so the talk will conclude with a discussion of the issues surrounding evaluation of games for learning. I will discuss preliminary results from an experiment we have run on a serious game that provides a practice environment for cultural understanding and negotiation.

H. Chad Lane is a Research Scientist at the USC Institute for Creative Technologies (ICT) who specializes in the application of artificial intelligence techniques to problems of education and training. His research interests involve intelligent tutoring systems (ITS), serious games, cognitive modeling, and the learning sciences. He received a B.S. in Mathematics & Computer Science from Truman State University, an M.S. in Computer Science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and a Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University of Pittsburgh in 2004 under the supervision of Dr. Kurt VanLehn.

In his doctoral research, Chad combined his love of teaching with research by integrating his dialogue-based ITS for novice programmers into the classes he taught. His research at ICT has focused on integrating intelligent tutoring into serious games for the learning of ill-defined domains such as leadership, cultural awareness, and negotiation skills. In 2006, he chaired a special track on ITS at the FLAIRS (Florida Artificial Intelligence Research Society) conference, hosted a workshop focusing on promoting learning in serious games via tutoring at ICT, and presented his view of the future of ITS research at the U.S. Army's Science of Learning workshop in Hampton Roads, VA. Chad is co-chair of the 2008 FLAIRS conference to be held in Coconut Grove, FL, and most recently has been appointed as an editor for the Journal of Interactive Learning Environments.


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