The Cognitive Playground: Fostering Critical and Creative Thinking with Synthetic Worlds
This chapter explores the potential of synthetic worlds to help individuals learn and practice higher order thinking skills including critical and creative thinking. Such skills are difficult to teach in traditional educational settings and are rarely addressed in common simulation-based training programs. The potential is explored first through a fictional account of a day in the life of Tara Defarge, an eco-detective in the year 2025 and her interactions with the Cognitive Playground. Present day understandings about teaching, learning and virtual worlds are used to show that synthetic worlds naturally consist of appropriate metaphors and capabilities to foster critical thinking. An assessment of the state of intelligent interfaces and adaptive systems informs a discussion of the technological challenges that must be met before a Cognitive Playground can be realized.