This blog post written by
USDLA Chair of State Chapters
There are some times when I would love to be a student again, specifically a math student. I had extremely high SAT scores in math, but frankly never liked my math classes. Perhaps it was the teacher…he was always so grumpy. And the book was so boring. Oh, to be a student in today’s classrooms learning math concepts. Read on to learn about a great example of engaged learning of math—specifically calculus—with Variant: Limits™ (an honored USDLA 2017 award winning project).
Calculus, which is critical to STEM degrees, has one of the highest failure rates of any college course. In fact, the Mathematical Association of America estimates the failure rate for Calculus I is reaching 38 percent. Variant: Limits™ is aimed at significantly reducing calculus failure rates, empowering students to take a more active role in the learning process and engaging them with the content on a deeper level. The high-stakes adventure leverages effective forms of instruction, leading to achievement and retention of knowledge in Calculus I, including Finite Limits, Continuity and Infinite Limits.
Variant: Limits connects mathematics and game play through immersive learning. It allows students to explore, develop new knowledge, and practice college-level calculus concepts visually in a 3D environment. Students don’t just memorize and regurgitate information, but rather apply it. As students achieve learning objectives and advance to higher levels, they are motivated to keep going.
Variant: Limits introduces essential game play narrative that explains immediate objectives, with the option to discover supplemental back story and lore to unlock additional information about the planet and technology. In Variant: Limits, the player takes on the role of Equa, who is the main character for the Variant series. Equa interacts with two additional characters: 1) the Preceptor, an artificial intelligence whose role is to guide Equa, and 2) Celare, a floating wisp that explains the planet.
The goal of the game is to save the planet that is threatened by powerful and unnatural geomagnetic storms. Equa must attune the Energy Limiters to reconnect bridges, power transport pads, get passed the security system, and access emergency energy nodes. If Equa can energize the node, the storms will stop. Through game play, the player explores and applies conceptual understanding of limits, by selecting limits, changing operators, manipulating functions, and applying concepts like the Intermediate Value Theorem to interact with the 3D environment.
Variant: Limits was developed by Triseum, which grew out of the LIVE Lab in the Department of Visualization at Texas A&M University. Triseum’s games mirror the imagination, interactivity, suspense and sophistication of commercial entertainment games while maintaining strict learning efficacy supported by research.
Take a look at this educational trailer of Variant: Limits to see why they were an obvious choice for a USDLA award!
Save the Date:
Learn more about the USDLA and how you too can be a member. The association supports all core markets including Enterprise, Government, Telemedicine, Education and others.
Our Association is unique, not only for its historical commitment to distance learning, but also for engaging with a broad spectrum of distance learning professionals – K-12, higher education, corporate, government, military, telehealth, and home schooling. While more narrowly focused organizations have an important role, a powerful perspective emerges when bright minds serving diverse constituencies come together.
The USDLA was formed in 1987. At that time, companies like Yahoo and Google were still years away. “Power users” were boasting of their Intel 386 processors. In that context, DL was a concept well outside the educational mainstream. Granted, a few people knew something of the process but hands-on DL experience was rare. USDLA, then, provided a means for these pioneers to find one another.
Today, with more than one-third of college students taking an online class, it’s a far different world but USDLA remains a vital player. Our members continue to seek out other DL professionals. These practitioners still want to grow and want to offer students a strong education in a robust community of learning. Today’s USDLA stands out as a remarkable resource for teachers and administrators who want to enhance the learning experience.