Computer game for students: theory on the walls, problem solutions unlock the doors.


Crowd-sourcing Solutions to Really Big Problems

Imagine you want to solve a big problem X (place anything instead). For a concrete example, take human aging problem. The money is not a bottleneck. To solve it, you have to analyze the mechanisms of aging. For that you need people who understand the mechanism well enough to actually do useful computational and experimental work.

Much of it is computational, such as applying machine learning algorithms to do manipulate the data generated, - to be able to recognize a feature of a molecular structure, a pattern of asteroid distribution, or the possibilities in a network of chemical reactions of a human cell.

Here is where the 3D Study Maze video game comes in. It is a 3D labyrinth game, where each room's walls are covered in theory to be learned, and each door in a tunnel between the rooms contain a problem based on the theory in the room: to unlock the door, you have to solve the problem; and, as you move along to other rooms, you may need to use the theory of the previous rooms.

While entertaining kids, the game teaches them starting from the very basic mathematical knowledge and skills (integrating the Khan Academy videos and problem sets), to advanced university-level knowledge (integrating freely available material of on-line courses).

The game creates a motivational element: game players have to solve problems to go from one virtual room another. Curiosity is known to be sufficient to create game addicts across the world, but to increase the performance kids, and appease parents, we could offer extra monetary rewards for solving harder problems.

The educational problems would be only in the beginning of the game. Once the kids arrive to the place where they have skills necessary to do useful job, educational problems gradually are replaced by real life problems, placed in a similar way like advertisements are through Google AdWords program.

The type of problems a player is capable of efficiently solving will depend on the set of maze rooms that the kids were able to reach so far. This information will enable us to target real world business and academic problems to the right place of the educational maze, where the likelihood for a type of problem be solved is optimal, from perspective of the value of having the problem solved.

Each place in the labyrinth, of course, will have different price (different cost-per-placement), because there are different numbers of students in different places of the labyrinth, and the prices of problem placement would follow the supply-and-demand mechanics.

Now, to solve the big problems like aging or death, companies and research groups focused on those problems could leverage upon the resource. They could buy the placements from something like Google AdWords in the very places, where the likelihood of presence of a gamer with the right skills is the greatest.

The rest is in the details. The paradigm would work well not just because games motivate well, but also, because a part of the brain called hippocampus, involved in learning to navigate complex environments had been shown to be very neuroplastic, even for adults (goo.gl/t72Xk). (London taxi drivers were know to have large hippocampuses, but what's more impressive, new trainees also grow their hippocampuses significantly in just two years. We do have this magical piece in brain that learns as good as a young child.)

I originally posted on Halfbakery, here, and later shared on Google Plus here.


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I actually spent about a month, that is about {240} hours to do the prototype, which is here, and quit my PhD studies to learn to do it. :)

So, cause there is firestormviewer.org, allowing to use SecondLife on Linux, -- just contract with a university, to sell them service of making underground Borg cubes in SecondLife, and hire existing makers, as well as build library for Blender to automate Borg cube making for SecodnLife? (see link)

Opportunity: use brilliant.org problems, khanacademy.org videos, combined with secondlife.com-like environment with puzzles to go through.

Idea: make a meeting between these organizations, include decentraland. Additionally, Dual Universe seem to be a good match.

This game could simulate buying equipment from Amazon, Alibaba, etc., to have that equipment pop into the game as virtual objects that can operate on virtual matter, that way teaching kids, how one things can be converted to others, using tools: so that they are more likely to buy those tools when they grow up.

It could even help companies sell things, as this buyers could prototype their set ups in virtual world before buying.

A few years back, the way to realize this idea might have been to build something from scratch, but considering that there's Dual Universe and Google AdWords, and Brilliant.org as problems source, and the Khan Academy as an educational material source, currently, it makes much sense to go M&A approach, and discuss a possible cooperation with all these sides, tasking Google AdWords with AdLocks as extension of AdWords, the Dual Universe with the experience side. An ideological gameplay leader or consultant could be David Münnich, creator of Notpron and Supraland. I think Gleb Skibitsky (thoughts on 3D internet for education), and creators of Firestorm viewer for SecondLife may be great consultants as well.

On the other hand, protocol-level implementation for decentralized marketplace of the problem placements, is also on the table. For certain types of problems it may even be easier to verify solutions. Additionally, UpWork could be the source of tasks from industry in such a maze. Just imagining how much people's attention this could capture and direct towards meaningful problem solving and education is mind-bloggling. I think I should talk with people, and maybe we can someone passionate working on this.

Mindey: Happy new year~ I am engaged in education. According to your ideas, I should be able to do something that is truly beneficial to mankind. How to start?

Thanks [transiency], happy new year as well. I think the one way to start is to use GeoCaching with students, where geocaching unlocks further locations of the world. Our world has got quite a lot of space already. Think of homework problems that lead to new locations. ;)

// think of homework problems that lead to new locations //

love this! suits business startup training too

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    : Inyuki
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One of my ideas, which I realise could be linked to XMaze is the idea of reducing the complexity of a problem and exposing it as a metaphor and using the metaphor to drive the real thing. Think computer performance. Could we visualize computer processing as a flow and car diagram and allow people to try different car layouts and junctions and roundabouts? And adjust road width and length and customise various attributes to create faster software?

    : transiency
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