For several years we have been creating Participatory Simulations
on custom wearable computers made at MIT. We have had a lot
of success with these machines in teaching concepts about
a variety of systems, but unfortunately they were costly
to make and quite fragile. The PDA Participatory Simulations
project is our attempt to get these same ideas out to a larger
These games are based on the idea that people learn well
when they are highly involved in what they are learning about.
We have found that these games are great motivators and work
well with anyone from inner city students to Fortune 500
employees. There is definitely a craft to running the activities
themselves, so don't expect to get it right the first time.
Many of the games almost run themselves. But they
do require your help. It is up to the facilitator to guide
the participants through the activity, sometimes subtly and
other times more overtly. One of the keys is getting students
to speak what they are thinking. Write down everything that
everyone says so that all ideas can be considered.
Over the coming months and years we hope to make more and
more of these games available (for free). We also hope to
eventually have Pocket PC version (though we currently are working on another Pocket PC project that we hope to release this year) and a development environment.
And somewhere else off in the future we hope to produce a
book that collects the activities, curriculum and related
The PDA Participatory Simulations project is based out of
the MIT Teacher Education
Program. It is lead by Eric
Klopfer, Director of MIT's
TEP. Development of the simulations was done primarily by
MIT undergraduates as research projects. These developers
include Philip Guo (Palm Master), Tina Hsieh, Nick Bozard, and Victor Cosan.
Judy Perry, TEP Research Manager currently oversees the development
of new games. Susan Yoon is the mastermind behind the Discussion
Game and is aiding in the development of new games. Some
of the projects are based on earlier work by Vanessa Colella.