HCI2010 – Play is a Serious Business – Bill Kapralos and mSTREET

Good morning! My activity for the day is taking taking part in the Group Awareness Workshop, subtitled  Group Awareness in Online Work, Learning and Games.  Here we have my impression of the first speaker.

Bill Kapralos, from lovely Toronto Canada, has had a long journey to arrive in the realm of researching serious games. His current work aims to improve learning for medical and health care professionals. He opens with some interesting ethnographic / organizational behavior observations. He points out the deficits nurses and doctors perceive in each others’ skill sets, and how this leads to workplace friction. Then he throws out the heavy term, “interprofessional education.”  One of the constraints on his work he mentions is how difficult and expensive it can be to bring together an entire medical staff to have group education or “interprofessional education.”  Bill goes on to present the second constraint, “The millennial student, traditional teaching doesn’t address their learning needs,” and now he enters the space I prefer… VIDEO GAMES! The games are killing our attention spans, but at the same time we are learning, just a little differently. Oh now he is just preaching to the choir, awesome. “Video games are learner centered approach…” says Bill, and he goes on “we are putting the student in charge of their own learning, we are letting them pick control.” His next point focuses on how these teaching games can allow users to experience dangerous, risky, or difficult work situations at a fraction of the cost or risk or real world training. One of Bill’s projects is called mSTREET? Modular Synthetic Training Research Evaluation and Extrapolation Tool, oh what a mouthful. Then the audience mentions the lack of “education” in the full title, HA! Then is could have been meSTREET, brilliant! How cool does a Virtual 3D Critical Care Unit game sound? We’ll call the first level “The deteriorating patient scenario,” enter Dr. House.

Bill is telling us about how adding bits of humor into the game has gotten positive reactions from the medical professionals. When you pick the wrong tool during the operation you get a message from the other staff in the game saying: “This is not the right tool for this stage of the operation,” that’s not that special  right? But the player’s retort on screen says, “I knew that.”

Bill Kapralos speaking at HCI2010
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