UAlbany Researcher Leads Investigation of Games for Enhanced STEM Education in K-12 Environment

UAlbany educational game researchers share a laugh, left to right, science education specialist Alan Oliveira, geoscientist Roberta Johnson, SUNY Games II project director Peter Shea, doctoral student Dima Kasssab, and Assistant Dean of Informatics, Jennifer Goodall. (Photo by Paul Miller)

ALBANY, N.Y. (July 29, 2013) – University at Albany School of Education Associate Professor Peter Shea is leading a research study investigating the use of games to promote learning. “SUNY Games II” will explore how faculty and students from diverse fields across the SUNY system can develop guided inquiry-based, immersive games to promote enhanced understanding of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) content in K-12 settings.

The project will foster the research and development of games for learning through the Open SUNY framework, whose goal is to bring all online courses offered at each of SUNY’s 64 campuses onto a shared and comprehensive online environment.

The project is partially funded through a 2013 SUNY Innovative Instruction Technology Grant (IITG) and the team has applied for a $1.2 million grant from the National Science Foundation. The team believes that a focus on STEM will address significant state and national challenges and will help position the project for additional external funding, which will be sought in the coming year.

In addition to developing a joint, online academic program that promotes understanding of games for learning, Shea said SUNY Games II will leverage collaborations with area industry. Partners on the SUNY Games II grant include the Troy-based game-design company First Playable and the atmospheric simulation and forecasting company MESO. Shea’s team is also in the process of establishing a working relationship with the Boston-based game developer Turbine Games, a subsidiary of Warner Bros.

Shea serves as principal investigator on the SUNY Games II’s study, which brings together faculty and students from UAlbany and other SUNY institutions representing a wide range of disciplines:

  • Shea, Alan Oliveira and Jianwei Zhang, Department of Educational Theory and Practice, UAlbany
  • Daniel Goodwin, chair, Department of Art, UAlbany
  • Jennifer Goodall and George Berg, College of Computing and Information, UAlbany
  • Roberta Johnson and Mathias Vuille, Department of Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences, UAlbany
  • Bina Ramamurthy, Department of Computer Science and Engineering, University at Buffalo
  • James McElwaine, Department of Music, Purchase College
  • Edward Bever, College at Old Westbury
  • Alexandra Pickett, associate director, SUNY Learning Network
  • Kim Scalzo, director, SUNY Center for Professional Development
  • Suzanne Hayes, director of instructional technology, Empire State College
  • Larry Dugan, director of online learning, Finger Lakes Community College
  • Anna Zhou, Shoubang Jian, and Dima Kassab, doctoral students, UAlbany

A nationally recognized expert in online learning, Shea’s research focuses on the development of communities of learners in higher education online environments. He holds joint appointments in the Department of Educational Theory and Practice and the Department of Informatics in the College of Computing and Information.

Shea directs a program of research that has recently attracted more than $2 million in external funding from organizations such as the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and the U.S. Department of Education. He is the recipient or co-recipient of four national awards including the EDUCAUSE Award for Systemic Improvement in Teaching and Learning and awards from the Sloan Consortium for online and faculty development programs. He is a Sloan-C Fellow in research on online learning and a member of its board of directors.

Prior to joining the University at Albany, Shea was director of the SUNY Learning Network, one of the largest online higher education systems in the United States with annual student enrollments of more than 100,000.

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