The ideal of interactive, highly-engaging training and education is ancient. A Chinese proverb says: “Tell me, and I’ll forget. Show me, and I may remember. Involve me, and I’ll understand.”. However, the gap continues to grow between antiquated, passive training methods and a workforce that lives an ever more interactive, multimedia, user-controlled lifestyle. With game-based learning tools to bridge that gap comes the promise of vastly more productive and engaged students and workers — ones who embrace learning rather than view it as a disruptive burden.
The chronic problem of how to win students’ attention in order to teach has become acute. Well-designed digital games — complete with realistic settings and compelling narratives — are to this and future generations what adventure novels like Robinson Crusoe, Huckleberry Finn, and Animal Farm were to previous ones. Used for learning, well-designed games are able to cut through distractions and engage this audience in a way that few other methods can (Gee, P. J. (2015)). The Natural Interactive Learning Games and Environments Lab (NILE gamelab) is an innovative and self-contained research unit of the Department of Informatics Engineering of the Technological Educational Institute of Crete (TEI Crete). The lab was established in 2011 and until 2016 was part of iSTLab. Since December 2016 is an independent research laboratory of the Department of Informatics Engineering of TEI Crete.
The main objectives of NiLE gamelab are:
- to educate and support students of the Department of Informatics Engineering in their effort to acquire basic theoretical knowledge, state of the art laboratory experiences and high quality skills and expertise.
- to offer opportunities for industrial placement and final year projects for undergraduate students willing to gain practical experience in selected technological domains.
- to undertake R & D activities in selected scientific domains and emerging technologies such as Serious Games, Games-based learning, Software Design, Software Engineering, Natural User Interaction, Inclusive design, Multimodal Sensing, Educational Virtual environments / ecosystems and Assistive technologies.
- to build software, educational – serious games and simulations with the user for the user and jointly with national and international industry that finish up to commercial products.
Moreover, the lab has developed collaborations with various local, national and international Universities and Institutions, as well as the Industry. The lab is directed by Associate Professor Nikolas Vidakis.
The NiLE laboratory areas of research investigation include:
- Developing games to demonstrate and conduct research
- Play testing research
- Game-based learning
- Inclusive design
- Serious Games
- Multimodal Sensing and Natural User Interfaces
- Educational Virtual environments / ecosystems
- Assistive technologies