Online Program

To play or not to play: An experiment in digital game-based global health curriculum

Tuesday, November 5, 2013 : 11:10 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.

Heather Wipfli, PhD, Department of Preventive Medicine, Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA
Digital games are increasingly recognized for their global health teaching potential and consequently, many groups have recently launched game development projects. Evidence indicates that strategic thinking, planning, and decision-making skills taught through gameplay closely reflect those required by global health professionals. Game-based models illustrate and forecast outcomes in real life, allowing students to compare the impact of different solutions within simulated environments.

We aim to address the role of game applications in global health education and training by quantifying gameplay knowledge transfer.

We reviewed all global health-related games available and compared their effectiveness in engaging users, communicating lessons and impacting behavior. We then developed two games First, we partnered with the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition and Million Moms Challenge to create 1,000 Days, a Facebook game in which players implement solutions that improve a family's nutrition. Our second game, Global Health Response Engine, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation through ABC News, targets instructors and students. Focusing on maternal survival, players learn core global health competencies and issues while manipulating a rigorous agent-based model. Both games are undergoing user testing and evaluation.

We found little evidence of knowledge transfer from existing games and seek to collect evidence from our projects to support future gaming efforts. The day we launched 1,000 Days, hundreds of people from more than 50 countries. The publicity that followed resulted in similar gameplay spikes. Initial data shows significant improvement between college students' pre- and post-gameplay knowledge about early childhood and maternal nutrition. Players enjoyed the experience and shared the game. Initial evaluation data on GHRE is still being analyzed.

Game development is an exercise in transdiciplinary collaboration and complex integration of various forms of data. Data on teaching effectiveness is needed to support further investment in gaming techniques for global health instruction.

Learning Areas:

Communication and informatics
Public health or related education

Learning Objectives:
Demonstrate the effectiveness of game applications in global health education and training.

Keyword(s): Global Education, Technology

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am an Assistant Professor of Preventive Medicine and Global Health actively engaged in global health game development. I personally led the research presented in the abstract.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.

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