Digital Games & Game-based Learning
The Center for Business and Program Development (CBPD) within the Institute for Molecular Medicine and Infectious Disease (IMMID) is committed to innovating science instruction in higher education by developing and implementing emerging learning technologies in academic programs offered by the Department of Microbiology and Immunology (M&I) and IMMID.
In 2016, the Center for Business and Program Development launched an initiative to develop digital games (apps) based on science for use as a learning tool in graduate courses and programs it helps develop and supports. Startup funds for this endeavor were provided by a College of Medicine Professional Enrichment and Growth (PEG) Grant, and a Research Co-Op grant from Drexel University’s Office of the Provost and the Steinbright Career Development Center.
CD4 Hunter Wins Medal
CD4 Hunter was awarded a Bronze medal in the 2018 International Serious Play Awards. CD4 Hunter is one of twelve games and simulations designed for use in training that have been cited for excellence by the 2018 International Serious Play Awards Program.
- CD4 Hunter was designed by a team of faculty and researchers at the Institute for Molecular Medicine and Infectious Disease (IMMID), led by Sandra Urdaneta-Hartmann, MD, PhD, MBA.
- The game was designed by Carla Brown, PhD, who was a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology (M&I), and coded and animated by two co-op students from the Digital Media Department at Westphal College of Media Arts and Design, Vincent Mills and Andrew Bishop.
- Dr. Urdaneta-Hartmann and Mary Ann Comunale, EdD, MS (both faculty in M&I and IMMID) were selected as speakers at the Serious Play Conference in Buffalo, NY in July 2018. The conference sponsors the international award granted to CD4 Hunter.
About game-based learning (GBL)
Game-based learning is the use of games to teach a particular skill or to reach a specific learning outcome, rather than being a complete pedagogical system. Digital GBL uses computer-based technology to offer an interactive and enriching experience to learner. These games are often referred to as “serious games”, because they were not initially designed for the purpose of entertainment. Games used for GBL are specifically designed so they align with the overall learning goals of a curriculum.
The positive impact of and support for the use of games in higher education, including for STEM subjects, has been widely documented. However, graduate programs in the biomedical sciences are still primarily taught in a traditional face-to-face lecture-based format, with extensive reading of textbooks and primary literature. Generally, integration of existing and emerging e-learning technologies, such as GBL, is seldom encountered. In an effort to change this, the CBPD is developing digital games (apps) to use as supplementary pedagogical tools in graduate biomedical courses and programs it develops and supports.
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In-house Development of Digital Games for Biomedical Education
The first mini-game developed in-house by the IMMID-CBPD is based on the mechanism of binding and attachment of HIV to target cells. Users play as HIV to locate, bind and infect as many specific target cells before being overcome by immune system (view the game tutorial). A prototype mini-game has been developed and it can be played on PC and touch screen devices including tablets, iPads and smartphones.
HIV was selected as the topic for the first game app because HIV infection is extensively discussed in several courses in the plans of study of different MS programs offered by the Department of Microbiology and Immunology (M&I) which the IMMID-CBPD helped develop and supports. HIV is also one of the major areas of research in M&I and IMMID.
Following the success of CD4 Hunter, IMMID-CBPD released its second game, Malaria Invasion, which is a supplementary tool to teach university students, in particular graduate students and research trainees in infectious disease, about the molecular mechanisms of disease in malaria.
Producing these digital mini-games provides the IMMID-CBPD a robust model for development and implementation of educational vehicles for microbiology at the undergraduate, graduate, and postgraduate level as well as in medical microbiological pathways in medicine and other medically related fields. The CBPD plans to expand development of educational digital games to include other topics relevant to the academic programs it supports and to research conducted by faculty in M&I and IMMID.
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