MathEd Forum

July 23, 2014


Theme: Games for Learning

November 30, 10am-2pm
Fields Institute, 222 College Street, Toronto

Morning Program
10:00-10:10 am Reports: OAME, OMCA, OCMA, CMESG, CMS, and other.

10:10 am Matt Dunleavy (Radford University, VA):
Mobile Interactive Games to Enhance Learning.(slide presentation)

Abstract: The purpose of the Mobile Innovation Learning Lab (MILL), formerly known as the GAMeS Lab (, is to design interactive learning applications (apps) that are used on mobile technologies such as smart phones and tablets to increase K-12 student achievement in high need STEM areas. With previous funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Virginia Department of Education, the MILL has established a successful track record in designing award-winning K-12 mobile apps. In collaboration with local and state partners, the MILL has developed 20 Standards of Learning-aligned apps that have been downloaded over 200,000 times from seven different countries. Three of these K-12 apps (i.e., Freddy Fraction, Fraction Factory, and Governomics) have received awards from the 2009 and 2010 Virginia Mobile Learning Apps Development Challenge ( In 2011, the MILL director, Dr. Matt Dunleavy, received the Innovative Educator of the Year award from the Virginia Society for Technology in Education (VSTE) for his work in this area. This presentation will explore how interactive mobile games and augmented reality can be used to enhance learning across the curriculum.

Bio - Dr. Matt Dunleavy is an Assistant Professor in Instructional Technology at Radford University in Virginia. From 2006 to 2007, he was a postdoctoral fellow in learning technologies at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and the director of the Handheld Augmented Reality Project (HARP). Dr. Dunleavy received his Ph.D. in Educational Research, Statistics, and Evaluation at the University of Virginia, where he focused on the impact of ubiquitous computing on student learning and the classroom environment. Prior to completing his formal education, he lived overseas teaching English as a Second Language in Cameroon, Central Africa as a Peace Corps volunteer and then independently in Taiwan, Republic of China. He has been the principal investigator on a National Science Foundation grant and a Virginia Department of Education grant ( totalling $2.2 million, both of which explored how mobile technology and augmented reality can be used to improve academic and socio-cultural skills for K-16 school students. In addition, Dr. Dunleavy is a co-founder of an augmented reality development company called MoGo Mobile Inc. (

11:00 am Laura Broley (Université de Montréal), Chantal Buteau & Eric Muller (Brock University):
E-Brock Bugs: A New Free Online Math Computer Game for the Development of Mathematical Thinking-Integrating Probability concepts in MDM4U.(slide presentation)

Abstract: E-Brock Bugs© ( is a free online educational computer game that seeks to have players learn about basic probability concepts in a personalized, interactive, animated and fun way. After selecting one of six possible in-game identities, players of E-Brock Bugs begin their journey to save Bug City from an evil band of Bullies who are controlled from afar by the all powerful Dr. P. To do this, players must work their way through six different districts, each of which entails a new environment, probabilistic game and Bully. Along the way, they meet an interesting cast of characters, including their guide, Bugzy, and Smarty, the extremely intelligent bug who has developed the theory behind each Bully's scheme. E-Brock Bugs was designed and implemented keeping in mind the principles of an epistemic computer game (Devlin, 2011), and with the goal that players will develop their ability to think mathematically, either independently or with the aid of prompts.

In this presentation, we will first briefly talk about the 'Bugs' evolution, from a board game created in the 1980's and widely distributed to math school teachers in the 1990's, passing through a Learning Object project, to a computer game recently launched on October 24, 2013. Incorporated in this evolution is a persistent attention to the student's transition from a math game to the mathematics involved, and we will indicate how the transition has been handled in the three different media. Following this introduction we will provide a brief summary of Devlin's (2011) ideas about the use of video games for the development of mathematical thinking. We will then get to the main part of the presentation: a demonstration of E-Brock Bugs and discussion about the implementation of Devlin's design principles, which supports, we suggest, the epistemic character of the game.

Devlin, K. (2011). Mathematics education for a new era: Video games as a medium for learning. Natick, Massachusetts: A K Peters, Ltd.

E-Brock Bugs© Laura Broley, Chantal Buteau, Eric Muller, 2013.

Bio - Laura Broley: Laura Broley is currently pursuing an M.Sc. in mathematics at the University of Montreal, where she is supported by SSHRC funding for research in mathematics education. She recently graduated from the Mathematics Integrated with Computers and Applications program at Brock University. During her final year of her undergraduate degree, she designed and implemented a free online mathematics computer game entitled E-Brock Bugs©, in which all of the graphics and other design elements are original works produced by her. For Laura's academic and extracurricular achievements during her time at Brock, including the dedication of hundreds of hours to volunteer work as an executive member of the Brock Leaders Citizenship Society, she was awarded the Governor General's Silver Medal, Spirit of Brock Medal and Dean's Medal upon graduation.

Bio - Chantal Buteau: Chantal is Associate Professor in the Department of Mathematics & Statistics at Brock University. Since she joined Brock in 2004, she progressively got involved in mathematics education while continuing her mathematics research work in mathematical music theory. Chantal has mainly focused her education work around the use digital technology for mathematics learning and teaching, university mathematics education, and mathematics teacher education. As part of a collaborative project with educators, she has investigated Canadian mathematicians' practices of Computer Algebra System use in their teaching. Chantal has been actively promoting education within her department by supervising Honours and Master projects in math ed, hosting a math ed seminar series, and creating a Technology and Mathematics Education course.

Bio - Eric Muller: Eric was one of the founders of the Department of Mathematics & Statistics at Brock University where he is now Professor Emeritus. He developed the service courses and the BSc/BEd program. Starting early in the 1970s he spearheaded the integration of technology in mathematics education and this resulted in the Department's 2002 core MICA program. Eric has published widely in areas of applications of mathematics and in mathematics education. He was an active member of OAME (appointed Life Member) and OMCA, and received the Michael Smith NSERC award for Science Promotion. Eric was one of the developers of the Fields Math Ed Forum.

12:00 pm - 1:00 pm LUNCH BREAK
(Light refreshments provided)

1:00 pm Jennifer Jenson (York University):
Ludic Epistemologies?: Learning and Digital Gameplay.

Abstract: For some time now, educators and educational theorists have worked hard to identify as well as embrace the pedagogical benefits of digitally-mediated play. Millions of dollars have been spent, and much ink spilt, towards exploring how we can best use digital games to mobilize educational and/or curricular content in new and playable ways. Given that the majority of educational games continue to be neither particularly educational nor, for that matter, playable, this talk explores the following questions: Do we really know how to think about 'content' in relation to educational games? What if educational game designers were less concerned with using play to 'sugar coat' conventional textbook-style forms of content, and more concerned with building games where content is not propositionally (like in Math Blaster) or even textually organized, but is instead spread across characters, narratives, tasks, and game mechanics? To explore these questions, this presentation will overview the field of educational gaming, showing the missteps and conceptual pitfalls that arise when we think of educational content as something we can put 'into' games. Instead, looking to commercial games, we can see that learning happens best when players are voluntarily immersed in worlds that are fair, interesting, and a little bit dangerous, and where players don't have to be themselves, as we always demand they be in education, but can take on powerful new identities and abilities.

Bio- Dr. Jennifer Jenson is Professor of Pedagogy and Technology in the Faculty of Education, and the Director for the Institute on Learning Technologies at York University. She has been designing and developing digital games and playful environments for education for the past 15 years, and has published on digital games and learning and gender and gameplay.

1:40 pm General Discussion: The audience is invited to talk about computer games they use in their teaching and learning.

2:00 pm Adjournment

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