BioSourcing investigates the potential of crowd-sourced gaming to improve public understanding in science while also facilitating scientific discoveries. Biosourcing games are online games built around contemporary dilemmas that feed data back to researchers in scientific domains. Three titles (Trails Forward, EcoNauts & Anatomy Pro-Am) are in production, and we are building a platform and theoretical models for crowd-sourced games more generally.


Kurt Squire (PI), Michael Ferris (Co-PI), Rosemary Russ (Co-PI), Constance Steinkuehler (Co-PI), Mark Stenerson, Dennis Paiz-Rameriz, Quinn Elmer.

Situating Big Data

Many so-called “big data” analyses of learning focus on technology-rich but talk-poor data sets, even though we know that the activity occurring around the game is as important as the gameplay itself. This project marries theories of situated cognition to the big data movement by connecting clickstream data from games in isolation to interactional data from their context of use. Using multiple methods of analysis – educational data mining, learning analytics, qualitative coding, quantification of qualitative coding, discourse analysis, natural language processing, standard pre/post assessments, and attitudinal surveys – we attempt to provide a more complete model of game-based learning by including both talk and play data equally as a way to better account for learning.


Constance Steinkuehler (lead PI), Matthew Berland (Co-PI), Kurt Squire (Co-PI), Danielle McNamara (Co-PI, ASU), Craig Anderson (project lead), John Binzak, Jennifer Dalsen, Pasqueline Scaico, Aybuke Turker, Vishesh Kumar, Vanessa Meschke

Play Data Consortium

The Learning Games Play Data Consortium is a national consortium on learning analytics to design and specify a set of data collection and analysis tools on a shared, open source platform that will use "big data" theories and techniques to transform clickstream data from games into evidence of player learning. We help partners collect data from learning games play data; we brainstorm new analyses that take advantage of play data to better understand learning and build better games; we design common specifications for potential tools; and we are (broadly) building a community (and new capacities) around learning games play data collection and analysis.


PI, Director: Matthew Berland, CoPI: Kurt Squire, CoPI: Richard Halverson, Constance Steinkuehler (Advisor), Mike Tissenbaum (Project Manager), Isaac Goodin (Lead Programmer), Brian Pelletier (LGN), Dennis Ramirez, Jazmyn Russell, Lauren Wielgus

Visit the Playdata Consortium Site

Personalization in Practice

The Personalization in Practice (PIP) project documents how schools establish the conditions to personalize learning for students and for teachers. Effective personalized learning programs coordinate multiple initiatives on several levels of the school, as a system, to reframe routines of teaching and learning. Leading for personalized learning means selecting and coordinating new policies, programs and procedures (e.g. artifacts) to create new routines of practice that, over time, create a new culture of teaching and learning. This study seeks to identify the routines that shape local practices, and to uncover the artifacts that educators used to reshape routines for personalizing learning.


People: Rich Halverson (PI), Julia Rutledge, Janice Mertes, Tanushree Rawat, Julie Kallio, Al Barnicle, Sarah Hackett, Curt Mould

Learning In the Making

In the Learning in the Making Lab, we are passionate about how people learn in and through making with an emphasis on arts-based maker practices. We work with a range of learning environments but we spend most of our time in museums and libraries across the US!


Erica Halverson (PI), Kimberly Sheridan (co-PI, George Mason University), Rebekah Willett (co-PI, SLIS), Breanne Litts (co-Investigator, University of Pennsylvania), Lisa Brahms (co-Investigator, Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh), Chris Lawson (UW-Milwaukee), Mike Tissenbaum (post-doc), Maria Bakker, Ethan Fleuchaus (UW-Milwaukee), Beau Johnson, Alexandra Lakind, Kailea Saplan (Pacific University)

Building the Field of Games for Impact

This project seeks to advance the national field of game-based learning by enabling and promoting cross-disciplinary and cross-sector knowledge-sharing and collaboration. Building on former policy work at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, our goal is to dramatically increase the impact and reach of games and learning research by better connecting educational game labs in higher education to the market and to one another. A growing number of universities and colleges have risen to the challenge of creating and validating games for impact, establishing game based programs in research, design and development. Rarely, however, do research findings shape educational game design and virtually none of the related IP makes it off campus. This effort seeks to develop connective tissue across university silos, the publishing and distributing market, and actual classrooms.


Constance Steinkuehler (PI)

Makescape Project

This project created a constructionist exhibit (“OZTOC”), which is currently live at the New York Hall of Science; we use the exhibit to understand how an informal engineering museum game can help students learn complex technical content. To understand the impact on students, particularly those in middle school, the project logs student activities, collaboration, and interactions as well as collect post-visit data from participants. The broader significance and importance of this project arises from the potential to inform how museum exhibits, which reach millions of diverse and under-represented students annually, can be used to help students follow pathways into engineering.


Matthew Berland PI) , Leilah Lyons (PI, NY Hall of Science), Mike Tissenbaum, Adam Mechtley, Lauren Wielgus, Rebecca Eydt (NY Hall of Science)

Games & Papers


Danielak, B. A., Mechtley, A., Berland, M., Lyons, L., & Eydt, R. (2014, June). MakeScape lite: a prototype learning environment for making and design. In Proceedings of the 2014 conference on Interaction design and children (pp. 229-232). ACM.

Lyons, L., Tissenbaum, M., Berland, M., Eydt, R., Wielgus, L., & Mechtley, A. (2015, June). Designing visible engineering: supporting tinkering performances in museums. In Proceedings of the 14th International Conference on Interaction Design and Children (pp. 49-58). ACM.

Games for Healthy Minds

Working with world-renowned neuroscientist Richard J. Davidson at the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds (CIHM), we are working to create games that foster emotional and attentional well-being, that nurture empathy, and that ameliorate distraction and distress. ZenJuvo and Crystals of Kaydor are our first two prototypes. ZenJuvo is a gamified application for practicing mindfullness. Crystals of Kaydor is a role-playing game designed to foster social acuity (the ability to accurately detect another person’s emotional state). Our research on both titles includes telemetry data from gameplay, traditioanl pre/post behavioral measures, and neuroscientific data on the structure and function of the brain.


Richie Davidson (PI), Constance Steinkuehler (Co-PI) Kurt Squire (Co-PI), Mike Beall (design lead), John Binzak (research lead), Craig Anderson, Jennifer Dalsen, Pasqueline Scaico

DPI Community Learning Centers

In DPI Community Learning Centers, we partner with schools across the state to develop 21st Century thinking skills through game design. Students are introduced to game design through a curriculum based on GLS developed games, and then design their own games using the Studio K curriculum. In 2015-2016, we will launch a state-wide game design competition to culminate at the 2016 GLS conference.


Kurt Squire (PI), Rich Halverson, Co-PI), Laura Bloker, Dwight Bussman

The Network

The Wisconsin Collaborative Education Research Network (the Network) sparks new research-practice partnerships for education innovation in and out of schools. The Network represents in a partnership between the UW-Madison School of Education, the Wisconsin Center for Education Research, and the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. The social capital theory of action of the Network was designed to “close the loop” around dissemination strategies first by creating conversations, then communities of practice, then reform initiatives sparked by the innovative ideas, people and tools produced by the partners.


Rich Halverson (Co-Director), Jack Jorgensen (Co-Director), Leslie Lang (Assistant Director), Laura Dunek, Alan Barnicle, Tanushree Rawat, Sarah Hackett, Max Thongnaum