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University innovators lauded for disaster relief, virtual learning tools

ASU student in classroom
April 10, 2014

The President's Award for Innovation provides formal recognition to ASU teams that have made significant contributions to ASU and higher education through the creation, development and implementation of innovative projects, programs, initiatives, services and techniques.

This year, the innovation awardees included two teams who are helping advance virtual learning and disaster relief.

Quest2Teach is a series of game-infused 3-D virtual learning curricula, unified by a social-professional network, designed for teacher education. These immersive experiences provide authentic and individualized practice for future teachers, while bridging between theory and practice. Quest2Teach is the first of its kind in teacher education, created at ASU’s Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College through a unique collaboration between our Center for Games & Impact and our partner game-design studio, E-Line Media.

In Quest2Teach, future educators create an avatar and evolve their professional identity over multiple semesters in a variety of 3-D role-playing storylines within instructor-guided courses in the Teachers College. Quest2Teach provides safe, immersive experiences where learners can tackle authentic problems, fail safely, see the impact of their decisions and gain fluency in these practices. Students’ endeavors in the game then appear on their network homepage, evolving their real-world identity across semesters and student teaching. The Quest2Teach network provides a place to share and reflect with digital colleagues, locally and internationally.

The team's research with hundreds of students has shown significant learning and engagement gains, and students report increased confidence in their teaching, higher fluency in these practices and learning how "to actively do" (rather than "know about") these theories in practice.

Team members
Center for Games & Impact, Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College
Anna Arici, Sasha Barab, Kathryn Dutchin, Adam Ingram-Goble, Lee McIlroy, Bill Slease, Janis Watson

Catherine Weber, Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College

Ryen Borden, Benjamin Clark, Sanford Inspire Program, Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College

E-Line Media
Logan Barnett, Graeme Bayless, Jared Beauchamp, Alex Burley, Demi Du, Scott Foust, Steve Malandra, Jake Martin, Justin Messner, Elio Rutigliano, Jeff Seaman, Brenden Sewell, Joscelyn Stephens, Jesse West

The Data Mining and Machine Learning lab has created systems employing social media since 2010 to connect first responders to actionable information in massive crowd-sourced data. This use-inspired innovative solution addresses the challenge of focusing information and technology to produce meaningful change by creating new kinds of value and a real impact in the critically important area of humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.

The project implements novel social media tracking and analytics systems: TweetTracker, TweetXplorer and ASU Coordination Tracker, which have been used in disaster tracking, reporting and research.

The systems impact existing processes for disaster relief and produce meaningful change by:

• reducing the time and effort required by first responders to track major disasters such as Hurricane Sandy and the Arab Spring through Twitter

• creating interdisciplinary collaborations with NGOs and institutions for creating scalable, real-time systems

• promoting relevant research through developing projects and sharing data, and publishing books and technical articles to enable researchers and practitioners to build on the findings

• engaging undergraduate participation in research

Team members
School of Computing, Informatics, & Decision Systems Engineering
Huan Liu, Shamanth Kumar, Fred Morstatter, Huiji Gao, Mohammad Ali Abbasi, Reza Zafarani, Grant Marshall, Daniel Howe, Mark Karlsrud, Xia Hu, Jiliang Tang, Pritam Gundecha, Zhuo Feng, Salem Alelyani, Xufei Wang,
Ashwin Rajadesingan

Suhas Ranganath, School of Arts, Media and Engineering
Jose Augusto Andrade Filho, Federal University of Sergipe, Brazil