Erik Verlage, Research Scientist, MITStaff
The Industry 4.0 digital revolution is leading to ever-increasing complexity and digitization of manufacturing processes, which requires companies to perennially reskill and upskill their workforce. In addition to a deeper understanding of manufacturing equipment capabilities, specialized worker knowledge should be grounded in the new applications of emerging technologies.
Games allow students to easily explore complex systems in fun, engaging environments. In addition, massive open online courses (MOOCs) and blended learning boot camps are cost-effective and scalable models for self-directed upskilling. The inclusion of interactive games and simulations in digital learning environments can allow educators to strategically address manufacturing knowledge gaps in industry, academia, and government.
With funding from the US Office of Naval Research, the MIT Virtual Manufacturing Lab (VM-Lab) is training technicians and engineers to design and manufacture optical circuits for the emerging field of integrated photonics. VM-Lab developed a series of optics learning games and simulations, packaged them with instructional videos and assessments, and deployed these modules on a new manufacturing-focused online learning platform. The applications covered in these games include low-power computing, on-chip chemical and biological sensing, high-speed wireless communication, specialty optical fiber manufacturing, and LiDAR imaging.
The takeaways from this presentation include:
- Lessons learned from game design and development in a multi-university collaboration with game studio contractors and online learning specialists;
- Pedagogical approaches and best practices for incorporating games in MOOCs targeting adult learners in technical fields;
- Game design decisions to best address the needs of both engineering and technician audiences;
- How to create novel methods of data visualization, and how to simplify complex user interfaces to reduce cognitive load for STEM students;
- Tips for classroom integration of learning games into blended learning boot camps, as well as how to use game-based learning modules in 2-year and 4-year institutions;
- Best practices for the integration of HTML5 web games and simulations into Open edX online learning platforms;
- The role analytics and formative/summative assessment can play in the design of interactive simulations and games;
- How to deploy and market online courses which include interactive digital games.