Technology Tools
Technology Tools

Educators often take advantage of educational technologies as they make the shifts in instruction, teacher roles, and learning experiences that next gen learning requires. Technology should not lead the design of learning, but when educators use it to personalize and enrich learning, it has the potential to accelerate mastery of critical content and skills by all students.

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Primary Contact Name:
James Lester
Award Date:
June 2011
Grade Levels:
English Language Arts, Microbiology
Free with registration on website

The Innovation: CRYSTAL ISLAND: Lost Investigation

Many students love video games. Game-based learning (GBL) capitalizes upon this trend, using games and simulations to convey educational content and concepts. CRYSTAL ISLAND: Lost Investigation enlists GBL to teach eighth grade students Common Core State Standards in reading and science.

The game takes place in an interactive story-world, featuring a science mystery about an epidemic that has struck a team of researchers stationed on a remote tropical island. The student’s objectives are to identify the spreading illness; recover scattered pieces of another scientist’s notes; and recommend a treatment plan. To solve the mystery, the student uses critical thinking and decision-making skills while synthesizing information from conversations with virtual characters, complex informational text from books and articles, and test results from virtual laboratory equipment.

Common Core State Standards:

  • Reading English Language Arts; Information Text: 8 RI.1-2, RI.4-.7
  • Science: 1.05, 1.10, 7.01, 7.02

Concept matrices help students read & understand complex texts

Results Achieved

A comparison of students’ pre- and post-game experience test scores shows a significant increase in science content learning and reading skills.

In addition, two-thirds of student participants demonstrated the acquisition of deeper knowledge by successfully exercising strategic planning, interpreting technical information, and thinking systematically to determine the identity of the mysterious disease.

The Grant Project

With NGLC funding, NCSU accomplished the following:

  • Aligned curriculum with Common Core State Standards
  • Developed CRYSTAL ISLAND software and Teacher Dashboard
  • Created a scalable teacher professional development packaging
  • Engaged 1,200 students at two schools in the CRYSTAL ISLAND experience
  • Investigated research outcomes

NCSU plans to deploy CRYSTAL ISLAND: Lost Investigation on a national scale with an enhanced and expanded immersive story experience. Data mining analyses with student log data, as well as work on evidence-centered design, will enable the system to be even more responsive in providing personalized instruction, meet the increased demands and expectations of the Common Core, and empower teachers with real-time actionable analytics.

Long-term Goal: To continue the development and investigation of a multi-disciplinary, immersive game-based learning environment aligned with Common Core State Standards on a large scale.