Gaming and Learning

As the U.S. Air Force (U.S.A.F.) defines its future training and readiness concepts, it is increasingly important to create efficient and effective learning environments for training and readiness assessment. The Gaming Research Integration for Learning Laboratory (GRILL) is a concept developed in 2008 to explore alternative technologies for pushing training to appropriate levels of environment credibility using flexible environments and tools.

Over the past few years, a number of scientific activities have emphasized the importance of new approaches for learning and training that take advantage of games as venues for learning, training and readiness assessment.

The U.S.A.F. Scientific Advisory Board in its 2009 Virtual Training Technologies Summer Study recommended a number of ways for the U.S.A.F. to better leverage games and virtual technology. The report highlights the potential for novel gaming and multi-verse environments, informed by pedagogical principles and learning theory, to lower the costs of developing new training capabilities while enhancing the effectiveness of training and mission readiness.

Further, last year, the U.S.A.F.’s chief scientist published a comprehensive set of science and technology challenges that includes developing a new generation of adaptive and context-rich constructive environments for training and concept exploration, testing and evaluation. Together, these sources have all underscored the need to explore and demonstrate the potential of gaming environments as possible training solutions for augmenting current U.S.A.F. training investments. These sources also identify gaming environments as a means of efficiently addressing predicted future training and readiness needs and shortfalls.

The GRILL vision tracks very closely to many of the recommendations and advancement opportunities noted in these seminal documents and reports. Candidate research technologies include those capable of delivering training (possibly that which complements other training systems); that can operate as a stand-alone capability; and that can function as part of a larger and interoperable “family of complementary trainers” that includes live training, full-fidelity simulations, or game-based trainers.

In some of the work over the next year, we will be evaluating new synthetic task environments as development and demonstration venues for cognitive and computational-modeling and machine learning approaches. This will allow us to rapidly generate agents for improving the efficiency and effectiveness of live, virtual and constructive training.

—The authors are Mark Sturgell, Jennifer Winner and Joel Walker. Sturgell is head of the Cognitive Models & Agents Branch at the 711th Human Performance Wing, Human Effectiveness Directorate. Winner is a senior researcher with Lumir Research Institute and Walker, a first lieutenant in the Human Effectiveness Directorate, is the program manager for the GRILL.

As the U.S. Air Force (U.S.A.F.) defines its future training and readiness concepts, it is increasingly important to create efficient and effective learning environments for training and readiness assessment. The Gaming Research Integration for Learning Laboratory (GRILL) is a concept developed in 2008 to explore alternative technologies for pushing training to appropriate levels of environment credibility using flexible environments and tools.

Over the past few years, a number of scientific activities have emphasized the importance of new approaches for learning and training that take advantage of games as venues for learning, training and readiness assessment.

The U.S.A.F. Scientific Advisory Board in its 2009 Virtual Training Technologies Summer Study recommended a number of ways for the U.S.A.F. to better leverage games and virtual technology. The report highlights the potential for novel gaming and multi-verse environments, informed by pedagogical principles and learning theory, to lower the costs of developing new training capabilities while enhancing the effectiveness of training and mission readiness.

Further, last year, the U.S.A.F.’s chief scientist published a comprehensive set of science and technology challenges that includes developing a new generation of adaptive and context-rich constructive environments for training and concept exploration, testing and evaluation. Together, these sources have all underscored the need to explore and demonstrate the potential of gaming environments as possible training solutions for augmenting current U.S.A.F. training investments. These sources also identify gaming environments as a means of efficiently addressing predicted future training and readiness needs and shortfalls.

The GRILL vision tracks very closely to many of the recommendations and advancement opportunities noted in these seminal documents and reports. Candidate research technologies include those capable of delivering training (possibly that which complements other training systems); that can operate as a stand-alone capability; and that can function as part of a larger and interoperable “family of complementary trainers” that includes live training, full-fidelity simulations, or game-based trainers.

In some of the work over the next year, we will be evaluating new synthetic task environments as development and demonstration venues for cognitive and computational-modeling and machine learning approaches. This will allow us to rapidly generate agents for improving the efficiency and effectiveness of live, virtual and constructive training.

—The authors are Mark Sturgell, Jennifer Winner and Joel Walker. Sturgell is head of the Cognitive Models & Agents Branch at the 711th Human Performance Wing, Human Effectiveness Directorate. Winner is a senior researcher with Lumir Research Institute and Walker, a first lieutenant in the Human Effectiveness Directorate, is the program manager for the GRILL.

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