Learning from Mixed-Reality Games: Is Shaking a Tablet as Effective as Physical Observation?

Researchers from the Human-Computer Interaction Institute at Carnegie Mellon University have published a study on the power of educational games with a “tangible” side.

Using the Microsoft’s Kinect  to enhance an educational game about elementary physics, they have found that the introduction of physical objects “along with Kinect improved the effectiveness of learning by nearly five times compared to an equivalent screen-only experience”.

The abstract:

The possibility of leveraging technology to support children’s learning in the real world is both appealing and technically challenging. We have been exploring factors in tangible games that may contribute to both learning and enjoyment with an eye toward technological feasibility and scalability.

Previous research found that young children learned early physics principles better when interactively predicting and observing experimental comparisons on a physical earthquake table than when seeing a video of the same.

Immersing children in the real world with computer vision-based feedback appears to evoke embodied cognition that enhances learning. In the current experiment, we replicated this intriguing result of the mere difference between observing the real world versus a flat-screen.

Further, we explored whether a simple and scalable addition of physical control (such as shaking a tablet) would yield an increase in learning and enjoyment. Our 2×2 experiment found no evidence that adding simple forms of hands-on control enhances learning, while demonstrating a large impact of physical observation.

A general implication for educational game design is that affording physical observation in the real world accompanied by real-time interactive feedback may be more important than affording simple hands-on control on a tablet.

Download the research.

Originally found on VentureBeat.