Discovery Series: Dr. Michael K. Thomas

Date & Time: 
Tuesday, September 27, 2022 - 11:00am
Location: 
Zoom
Michael K. Thomas

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Discovery Series Presents:

Topic: Designing Experiences in Games and Simulations to support Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Speaker: Dr. Michael K. Thomas , Associate professor and Chair of the Department of Educational Psychology at the University of Illinois Chicago
Register via Zoom: https://unt.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZcqd-6qrzMuE9A5YrZj05sblVWMQsHNvg0z

Abstract: While many researchers and instructional designers have explored games and simulations for learning, there remains a need for practical tools that may be used for the purpose of creating experiences that support diversity, equity and inclusion. One approach to this is the methodological approach of Culturally Grounded Design. This session overviews a project that used this approach to help middle school students learn the habits that have become second nature to cybersecurity professionals in a way that is culturally and developmentally appropriate and that effectively simulates the habitual actions of cybersecurity professionals while also teaching them about and promoting this field of study, associated careers, and also teaching them, at this young age, to adopt safe cybersecurity habits. This involves the development of a collectible card game (CCG) similar to other battle card games (such as Magic: The Gathering, Yu-Ghi-Oh!, Pokémon, and Cardfight Vanguard) for teaching the habits that have become second nature to cybersecurity professionals to underrepresented groups of middle school children (grades 6-8). This CCG will be designed to meet the needs of middle grade students where they are both culturally and developmentally. The session will also explore the seven essential elements of games for learning.​​​​​​​

Bio: Michael K. Thomas is an associate professor and Chair of the Department of Educational Psychology at the University of Illinois Chicago. His research focuses the cultural dimensions of technology implementation in learning contexts and what this means for the design of technology-rich innovations for learning. His work focuses on design-based research for learning games development. Three key questions with respect to this are (a) What are the central concerns of teachers, trainers, and other stakeholders regarding the implementation of technology in learning contexts? (b) What do they do to continually resolve these concerns? and (c) In what ways does culture play a role in the design and implementation of technology-rich innovations? He is particularly interested in video games and gamification in learning environments. He has expertise in qualitative research in general and grounded theory in particular. Before joining, UNCC, he taught instructional technology and research methodology at the University of Oklahoma, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and the University of North Carolina, Charlotte. He is currently working on issues related to equity and diversity in learning environments and higher education.

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