Experiential and Game-Based Learning at American Public University System
Concurrent Session 6
APUS developed a framework that incorporates active-experiential learning using game-based theory combined with strategic partnerships with industry, universities, and consortiums to propel students into successful careers. This framework creates opportunities for online students to immerse themselves in critical decisions using 3-D virtual environments and assignments that recreate on-the-job scenarios.
In 2018, the American Public University System, School of Security and Global Studies, and STEM Schools began to incorporate problem-based gamification and simulations into both online and blended learning environments. Experts in the field of neuroscience of learning or brain learning like Dr. Stella Collins and Dr. James Zull, believe that learning must be interactive for long term memories to form and actual learning to take place. The learning cycle consists of, concrete experiences, reflective observation, abstract hypothesis and active testing. The learning cycle is based on the fact that learning experiences are initiated through concrete experience or experiential learning. The brain, using the occipital lobes and the cognitive cortex is better able to translate and produce action in the parts of the brain that stores long term memories when interactive and concrete experiences are provided such as immersive, 3D virtual experiences. By engaging these parts of the brain through direct interactive 3D immersive environments in our courses, APUS is able to optimize student learning and set the student up for success on the job or in a career to make critical decisions and fulfill the job requirements.
By leveraging strategic partnerships with universities who can benefit from course and faculty-based assets, consortia relationships such as FEMA National Domestic Preparedness, Consortium for Homeland Security, and the Naval Postgraduate School, APUS has worked to develop a framework for active-experiential learning based on game theory to further enhance the classroom experience and propel students into a competitive marketplace. These partnerships have allowed APUS to develop real world simulations that help students put their classroom skills to the test in a gamified environment working to resolve real world problems, requiring real time decision-making.
Among the products developed, APUS is working towards the launch of an Emergency and Disaster Management (EDMG) simulation lab where students partake in several real-life disasters using a 3D virtual reality simulation where they will make decisions both in planning for disasters as well as real-time decisions while the disaster unfolds. In addition, several other simulation-like assignments and forums have been developed throughout the entire program such as developing a vulnerability assessment of the student’s town by using Google Crisis Maps and a new text based emergency notifications that incorporates crisis management into team based discussions and mini-simulations throughout the courses. This immersive technology will be available for students to take in both online and blended learning environments. Following this pilot, APUS is currently making plans to launch similar labs in the areas specific to Homeland Security and Intelligence Studies which will further engage students in real world decision making scenarios which will help further enhance their pursuits of careers in this field.
In this presentation, the APUS team will demonstrate, engage and involve participants in discussions on how to ensure that 3D simulations and game-based activities are mapped to the concepts in braining learning science that will directly increase student performance. Participants will be able to see and view first hand the simulations using the same 3D technology used in the Emergency and Disaster Management labs. The objective of this presentation is to collaborate and share new innovative ideas for online and blended environments with other institutions and colleagues who are ready to make the leap into immersive and experiential learning that focuses on student preparation and performance.