The Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin has been supporting youth health education programs through their Children’s Health Education Center (CHEC) for the past twelve years. In 2004 the Center started the www.bluekids.org program to focus their efforts on reaching youth, educators, and parents via the Internet. Over 12,000 students participated in CHEC’s teacher-facilitated game-based learning curriculum last semester alone. When tasked with quantifying the impact of interactive web-based programs on youth behavior and attitudes, CHEC and researchers at the Children’s Hospital have come up with very positive preliminary results. Watch a video of one teacher’s experience with the program.
In my nine minute interview found below with CHEC Research Manager Dr. Richard Schafer, he points out that after participating in CHEC’s Its Up 2U program, middle school students indicated they were less likely to consume alcohol. The program significantly increased the students’ knowledge of the negative consequences associated with abusing drugs and alcohol. Dr. Shafer points out in the interview that in his forty years as an educator, he has rarely seen such “astounding” and effective results from a prevention program.
Game mechanics that positively impacted the success of the Internet game-based learning program include:
- Detective game genre with multiple locations and characters
- Ability to learn via a written conversation with game characters
- Activities that force literacy activities such as keeping an electronic journal or writing a letter to the editor
- Teacher-guided, including a comprehensive teacher’s guide that allows for flexibility
For full disclosure purposes, Web Courseworks is the CHEC development partner for the Its Up 2U program. Regardless, this game-based learning program and the research on its efficacy for young learners is an extremely promising step in preventative healthcare education.
Interview of Dr. Schafer: