Blog Redirect

August 3, 2009

This Blog now exists on the Thinking Worlds site. Please go to

Thinking Worlds authoring tool now Live!

March 31, 2009

The Thinking Worlds authoring tool is now live and available for download from

Go to the site for demos, tutorials and movies.

Here are some vids of the tool in action:

Sounds, layouts and Custom Interactions – Airport Security

March 19, 2009

In our experience the multisensory nature of Immersive Sims greatly helps with learner engagement and to increase their feeling of immersion within the learning context. Where used well, it may also generate richer learning stimuli that learners can encode and bind into memory more elaborately and thus retrieve more easily.

A key element of this is sound. Ambient sound can be used to found the scene in reality, whether it is the noise of traffic or the hum of machines in a factory. It can also be used to stimulate different moods, be it excitement or calm or horror. Then we have scene specific sounds such as a telephone ringing and of course, human communication.

Having spent a lot of time recently in airports and the security checks I thought that this would be a good context in which to explore sounds. At the same time we can have a look at changing default layouts and building custom interactions.


Read the rest of this entry »

Branching and Random Nodes

March 18, 2009

A key strength of Immersive Sims and Serious Games lies in their non-linearity. The means by which a learner can engage in a scenario and practice different methods and decisions; take different paths and approaches to problems; fail and return again to reflect and try new tactics. Thus the ability to embed non-linearity into the learning flow facilitates motivation, replay and the variety of cognitive processing necessary for the development of more elaborate knowledge structures.


Authoring in Thinking Worlds there are three easy and rapid ways to create branching non-linear scenarios:

·         Branching Interaction

·         Freeform  Branch Interaction

·         Random Event Node

An author can create more complex, even sandbox like non-linearity in Thinking Worlds using the counters and arithmetic nodes and building state systems. However for the majority of eLearning developers the branching interactions and random nodes are enough to create scenarios that engage learners in challenging guided discovery.


Thinking Worlds

Lets get started.

Our player (Private Investigator) Cecil Clash and his faithful friend Alien Joe are hot on the tail of The Big Man – criminal kingpin of the city. The scene starts with the dynamic duo in a dimly lit corridor. An informer has told them that The Big Man is inside an apartment and up to no good.


Our branching scene will go something like this – bear with me.

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Upcoming Expos

March 17, 2009

The launch of the Thinking Worlds authoring tool is but a few weeks away. I was over in Orlando last week showing the technology to folks at Defence Game Tech and the eLearning Guild annual gathering.




This week we are in London for Game Based Learning 2009 and next week the tool will be demonstrated in san Francisco at the Serious Game Summit – we have a presentation on Tuesday 24th of March in the afternoon. Come along to see Sims being built live and direct.

gamesbasedlearning seriousgamessummit

Look forward to catching up with people there.

paths and cameras

paths and cameras

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Rote memorizing making us stupid Doh

February 15, 2009

Brenda M. Trofanenko, a professor of curriculum and instruction in the College of Education, says that teaching history by rote – that is, by having students memorize historical dates and then testing them on how well they can regurgitate that data on a test – is a pedagogical method guaranteed to get students to tune out and add to our collective civic and historical cluelessness.

“I agree that there should be a base knowledge that students need to know about their country and their community affiliations,” she said. “But its relevance lies not just in knowing historical fact but being able to see what can be gleaned from historical inquiry, including cause and effect, progress and decline, and historical significance. You still have to know what happened, but you also have to be able to put it into a larger context of what was happening at the time, why it was happening, and what relevance it has to the current day.”

Critical Thinking

While it’s important to know facts and dates, Trofanenko believes history teachers should challenge students, especially high school students, to think like historians.

“We need to start thinking differently about our students’ abilities,” she said. “They can think critically and engage in historical inquiry if they’re actually given the opportunity. Instead, we make them learn facts and test them on their ability to regurgitate them at the end of the week. I think that’s really insulting to them.”

Trofanenko believes that students today are a lot more critical than they were in years past.

“With the amount of information that’s out on the Internet, I don’t think you can fool kids anymore,” Trofanenko said. “They’re much more savvy now about looking things up than they were even a few years ago. They’re certainly critical about other things in their lives, so why can’t they be critical of history as well?”

Thinking like a historian, according to Trofanenko, entails studying primary source documents, thinking about the historical context, weighing the evidence and then making an argument – “something all high school students are capable of doing,” she said. “That helps students develop a historical consciousness, which is the ability to ask why a particular historical narrative or a historical concept is advanced or not.”

Similar concerns have been raised in response to curriculum changes in the UK.  Lisa Hamilton writing in the Spectator takes issue with the dumbing down of expectations and absence of critical evaluation skills.

“Suggesting that children are incapable of dealing with complex narrative is intensely patronising. They manage fine with Harry Potter. Like it or not, our island story is a rollicking good read, with as many battles and murders as Grand Theft Auto. Certainly, much British history is of necessity concerned with the activities of elites, but is it not worth understanding why this is so?”

“also seem blind to the reality of how history will be increasingly absorbed. Is it not irresponsible to deny children the capacity to assess information for bias, distortion and inaccuracy in a world of unsupervised, unfiltered internet access?”

Immersive Sims

Seems like an ideal opportunity to incorporate Serious Games / Immersive Sims. The Making History series from Muzzy Lane are excellent examples of this. Guided discovery with progress based upon increasingly complex thinking skills and the development of more complex knowledge stuctures. Coupled with the ability to MOD the application for user generated content.

I’d add our own small contribution through Rome in Danger. Placing learners back within the historical context faced with non linear thinking challenges and social puzzles.

Learning in your sleep

February 12, 2009

There has been a lot of conjecture on the role of sleep in memory formation and consolidation. New research indicates that – in animals at least – that sleep is crucial for consolidating memories at a biochemical level. Donald Clark is a big proponent of ‘spaced practice’ in learning – taking breaks for consolidation and optimal performance. Well, its official, take a break for a kip and you’ll do yourself right. Neuroscience gets better every day. Red wine, chocolate and now sleep helps learning performance.

“If you ever argued with your mother when she told you to get some sleep after studying for an exam instead of pulling an all-nighter, you owe her an apology, because it turns out she’s right. And now, scientists are beginning to understand why.

In research published this week in Neuron, Marcos Frank, PhD, Assistant Professor of Neuroscience, at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, postdoctoral researcher Sara Aton, PhD, and colleagues describe for the first time how cellular changes in the sleeping brain promote the formation of memories.

“This is the first real direct insight into how the brain, on a cellular level, changes the strength of its connections during sleep,” Frank says.

The findings, says Frank, reveal that the brain during sleep is fundamentally different from the brain during wakefulness.

“We find that the biochemical changes are simply not happening in the neurons of animals that are awake,” Frank says. “And when the animal goes to sleep it’s like you’ve thrown a switch, and all of a sudden, everything is turned on that’s necessary for making synaptic changes that form the basis of memory formation. It’s very striking.”

The team used an experimental model of cortical plasticity – the rearrangement of neural connections in response to life experiences. “That’s fundamentally what we think the machinery of memory is, the actual making and breaking of connections between neurons,” Frank explains

See full article at


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