Digital Knowledge Maps: The Foundation for Learning Analytics Through Instructional Games

  • Debbie Denise ReeseEmail author


The CyGaMEs (Cyberlearning through Game-based, Metaphor Enhanced Learning Objects) approach to instructional game design and embedded assessment provides a formalism to translate domain knowledge into procedural gameplay. As such, CyGaMEs learning environments are transactional digital knowledge maps that make abstract concepts concrete and actionable: translating what experts know into procedures learners do (discover and apply). CyGaMEs produces games designed to provide viable prior knowledge as preparation for future learning. After knowledge specification through a task analysis, the method applies cognitive science analogical reasoning theory to translate targeted learning goals into game goals and translate targeted knowledge as the game world (e.g., rules and core mechanics). The CyGaMEs approach designs gameplay parameters as the Timed Report measure of player performance to quantify and trace trajectories of learning and achievement. The approach is one way to address design for alignment and shortcomings and limitations documented in the literature that plague current learning game design, embedded assessment, and research. Chapter discussion introduces the national initiative for cyberlearning and embedded assessment and insights from evidence-centered design and cognitive tutor development practices, especially regarding task analysis and cognitive task analysis. Then CyGaMEs’ Selene: A Lunar Construction GaME design artifacts, screen captures, gameplay data, and analyses illustrate this approach to design and embedded assessment. A case is made that instructional game design with embedded assessment is an enterprise requiring complex expertise among teams of professionals—topped by talent and creativity.


Task analysis Timed Report Learning analytics Instructional games CyGaMEs 



Grateful appreciation to the CyGaMEs team (Charles A. Wood, Robert E. Kosko, Barbara G. Tabachnick, Douglas Moore, Janis Worklan, Cassie Lightfritz, Nieves Leticia Martín Hernández, Ronald Magers, Matthew Petrole, and Steven Nowak), CyGaMEs Junior Research Advisory Council (JRAC) member Gabrielle Ménard, and all of the CyGaMEs recruiters and players.

This research was supported by National Science Foundation grant DRL-0814512. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation. Portions of this [Selene] software are provided under license from Second Avenue Software Inc., copyright 2007–2010 Second Avenue Software Inc. All rights reserved.


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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center for Educational TechnologiesWheeling Jesuit UniversityWheelingUSA

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