Can Mixed Reality Games Improve Learning?

Researchers from the Human-Computer Interaction Institute at Carnegie Mellon University (Pittsburgh, PA) recently looked into whether using physical objects paired with interactive feedback (enabled by using Microsoft’s Kinect) enhances learning and enjoyment over a screen-only experience. This is a good question to explore as the number of mixed reality games will likely only grow in the future.

In the report, Learning from Mixed-Reality Games: Is Shaking a Tablet as Effective as Physical Observation?, the researchers detail a study of 98 6-8 year old children playing a game called EarthShake. The children engaged in four versions of the game – 2 were mixed reality versions that included the Kinect cameras, and 2 were screen-only versions (one laptop+mouse; one tablet).

Learning improved in the Kinect-enhanced versions of EarthShake by five times over the completely screen-based versions of the game, and the level of enjoyment was greater as well.

This brings up the question of what the next level of learning games will look like.  Perhaps the screen-only experiences that dominate today are only a tip of the iceberg towards outstanding learning experiences. Moving the experience more off the screen may open up possibilities that the screen just can’t facilitate.  It is certainly something to consider.

Check out the full report for more on the study and their results.