Development of SURGE Next was supported by the NSF EGAME grant. Research with SURGE Next explores designs to support players in explicitly articulating the intuitive understandings they develop through game play in terms of more formal representations, concepts, and processes. To support this explicit articulation we are exploring the integration and implications of research from the learning sciences, psychology, science education, and computer science on (1) explanation and argumentation, (2) social engineering, (3) modeling, (4) personalized scaffolding and agents, (5) real-time diagnostics and data mining, (6) motivation and engagement, and (7) prediction and reflection. At the heart of the SURGE NEXT, players navigate through levels with an interface that encourages prediction and reflection as they rescue Fuzzies, avoid obstacles, and solve puzzles. Whereas SURGE Classic involves extended levels, SURGE Next levels focus on a small number of discrete actions to encourage players to think more carefully about the outcomes and implications of each action.
We also explore opportunities for social engineering to support players in explanation with one another, both face-to-face and online.
Another important aspect of SURGE Next research focuses on data mining and modeling to diagnostically assess players' understanding in real-time. We are exploring applications of Hidden Markov modeling and other data modeling techniques in this regard. Our goal involves formative assessment and personalized scaffolding for players based on their patterns of activity across levels.
Finally, we are also exploring the integration of opportunities for players to develop computational models and representations of phenomena and patterns within the games. Our research on engaging players in manipulating and translating across representations and into the classroom challenge students with opportunities to leverage disciplinary representations as part of game play.
Whereas we designed SURGE Classic in Unity 3D, we developed SURGE Next using FLASH to develop levels and the WISE 4 online inquiry environment as a portal and hub for the levels. WISE 4 is designed to be very lightweight. This plan also allows us to leverage the powerful capabilities that already exist or that will be developed by the WISE 4 team, including assessment tools, drawing tools, collaborative functionalities, and many other student tools, as well as teacher tools that allow teachers to access and grade student work and provide teachers with updates and alerts about students’ progress.