Connie Yowell, MacArthur Foundation
Here are my notes from a panel on funding perspectives at the Games for Change festival today. Lucy Bernholz, Founder and President of Blueprint Research & Design, moderated a discussion with three large funders: Microsoft, the National Science Foundation and the MacArthur Foundation. My general conclusion is that this is such a pioneering, wild area that traditional foundations and funders are having a difficult time figuring out how to invest in this space. How do you support serious games in a way that is robust, creates a desired impact and is measurable? No one really knows yet. Which is why rigorous academic research in this area is so important.
Additional reports available on Water Cooler Games. My somewhat detailed notes follow….
Connie Yowell – MacArthur
MacArthur has a wider interest in Digital Learning that we will be pursuing over the next few years. Here is some of what we are emphasizing with our funding.
We need research showing games for education are worthwhile. We are taking new technology and putting them into old structures. We need to shift metrics to measure this work better. We need to rethink learning environments. Joe Kahn has done a study on civic engagement, new media, games etc.
Games represent new forms of pedagogy. We have give grants to University of Connecticut and and New York on creating a new vision for learning environments.
How are games reshaping institutions , i.e. libraries. And how can we use games as a means of studying human behavior, i.e. the work of Ted Castronova.
Diana Rhoten – National Science Foundation
I’m fairly new to this position, and I’m in a specific office on cyber-infrastructure. NSF has a much wider range of interests and activities, so I will be my best to capture just what our office is interested in.
We’ve been very conservative in this area and need to do more about how to meaningful fund work on cyberlearning. Much of this is because we are funded by Congress, which is also very conservative on these issues. We are interested in inquiry based, collaborative learning.
We’ve in the past funded the infrastructure, not the content. So the question is how can we build the teams of creators, educators, scientists to work together to do the work. We are interested in games as an object of study. We need better methodologies and metrics.
Microsoft’s major areas of funding are digital learning for all, creating a better workforce, and a better quality of life.
We work largely with governments, i.e. the state of Michigan. We do give smaller grants to entrepreneurial groups, such as Global Kids and TakingITGlobal. We view gaming is a great experiment zone.
Our issues or concerns:
- how do we know that the quality of game is something we can put mark on?
- Who is going to do the testing?
- What are the metrics?
- What is meaning students and adults make out of this space?