The NASA Learning Technologies (LT) project supports the development of
projects that deliver NASA content through innovative applications of technologies
to enhance education in the areas of science, technology, engineering and
mathematics (STEM). Research and development are at the core of the LT mission.
LT seeks to enhance formal and informal education in STEM fields with the
goal of increasing the number of students in those fields of study and is
currently investigating the development of a NASA-based massively multiplayer
online educational game (MMO).
Persistent immersive synthetic environments in the form of massive
multiplayer online gaming and social virtual world, initially popularized
as gaming and social settings, are now finding growing interest as
education and training venues. There is increasing recognition that
these synthetic environments can serve as powerful “hands-on” tools
for teaching a range of complex subjects. Virtual worlds with scientifically
accurate simulations could permit learners to tinker with chemical
reactions in living cells, practice operating and repairing expensive
equipment, and experience microgravity, making it easier to grasp complex
concepts and transfer this understanding quickly to practical problems.
MMOs help players develop and exercise a skill set closely matching
the thinking, planning, learning, and technical skills increasingly
in demand by employers. These skills include strategic thinking, interpretative
analysis, problem solving, plan formulation and execution, team-building
and cooperation, and adaptation to rapid change.
The power of games as educational tools is rapidly gaining recognition.
NASA is in a position to develop an online game that functions as a
persistent, synthetic environment supporting education as a laboratory,
a massive visualization tools and collaborative workspace while simultaneously
drawing users into a challenging, game-play immersion.