James C. Lester James C. Lester

Distinguished Professor, Director of the Center for Educational Informatics at North Carolina State University, NC, USA,

James C. Lester is a Distinguished Professor of Computer Science at North Carolina State University, where he is Director of the Center for Educational Informatics. His research focuses on transforming education with technology-rich learning environments. Utilizing artificial intelligence, game technologies, and natural language processing, he designs, develops, and investigates next-generation learning technologies. His work on personalized learning ranges from game-based learning environments and intelligent tutoring systems to affective computing, computational models of narrative, and natural language tutorial dialogue. The adaptive learning environments he and his colleagues develop have been used by thousands of students in K-12 classrooms throughout the U.S.

Dr. Lester has served as Editor-in-Chief of the International Journal of Artificial Intelligence in Education. He has served as Program Chair of the ACM Conference on Intelligent User Interfaces, the International Conference on Intelligent Tutoring Systems, and the International Conference on Foundations of Digital Games. He has also served as Conference Co-Chair of the International Conference on Intelligent Virtual Agents. He has served on the Steering Committee of IEEE Transactions on Affective Computing, for which he is currently an Associate Editor, and he serves on the Steering Committee of IEEE Transactions on Learning Technologies.

Dr. Lester received a B.A. in History from Baylor University and a B.A. (Highest Honors, Phi Beta Kappa), M.S.C.S., and Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University of Texas at Austin. He is the recipient of a National Science Foundation CAREER Award, and he has been inducted into the North Carolina State University Academy of Outstanding Teachers. In 2014 he was elected a AAAI Fellow by the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence.

Keynote: Sunday, March 29th | 09:00 – 09:55

Narrative-Centered Learning Environments –  VIDEO

The long-term goal of the game-based learning community is to design educational games that bring about fundamental improvements in education. For the past several years our lab has been investigating a family of game-based learning environments that integrate intelligent tutoring systems technologies and have a dual focus on learning effectiveness and student engagement. Research on these narrative-centered learning environments seeks to combine the inferential capabilities of intelligent tutoring systems with the rich gameplay supported by commercial game engines. In this talk we will introduce the principles motivating the design of narrative-centered learning environments, describe their roots in interactive narrative, explore the role of computational models of affect recognition and affect expression in their interactions, and discuss their cognitive and affective impact on students through empirical studies conducted in public school systems.


James M. Rehg James M. Rehg

Professor, School of Interactive Computing, College of Computing, Georgia Institute of Technology, GA, USA

James M. Rehg is a Professor in the School of Interactive Computing at the Georgia Institute of Technology, where he is co-Director of the Computational Perception Lab and is the Associate Director for Research in the Center for Robotics and Intelligent Machines. He received his Ph.D. from CMU in 1995 and worked at the Cambridge Research Lab of DEC (and then Compaq) from 1995-2001, where he managed the computer vision research group. He received an NSF CAREER award in 2001 and a Raytheon Faculty Fellowship from Georgia Tech in 2005. He and his students have received a number of best paper awards, including best student paper awards at ICML 2005 and BMVC 2010. Dr. Rehg serves on the Editorial Board of the International Journal of Computer Vision, and he served as the General co-Chair for CVPR 2009. He has authored more than 100 peer-reviewed scientific papers and holds 23 issued U.S. patents. His research interests include computer vision, medical imaging, robot perception, machine learning, and pattern recognition. Dr. Rehg is currently leading a multi-institution effort to develop the science and technology of Behavior Imaging— the capture and analysis of social and communicative behavior using multi-modal sensing, to support the study and treatment of developmental disorders such as autism.

Keynote: Sunday, March 29th | 10:30 – 11:25

Analyzing Social Interactions through Behavioral Imaging - VIDEO

Beginning in infancy, individuals acquire the social and communication skills that are vital for a healthy and productive life. Children with developmental delays face great challenges in acquiring these skills, resulting in substantial lifetime risks. Children with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) represent a particularly significant risk category, due both to the increasing rate of diagnosis of ASD and its consequences. Since the genetic basis for ASD is unclear, the diagnosis, treatment, and study of the disorder depends fundamentally on the observation of behavior. In this talk, I will describe our research agenda in Behavioral Imaging, which targets the capture, modeling, and analysis of social and communicative behaviors between children and their caregivers and peers. We are developing computational methods and statistical models for the analysis of vision, audio, and wearable sensor data. Our goal is to develop a new set of capabilities for the large-scale collection and interpretation of behavioral data. I will describe several research challenges in multi-modal sensor fusion and statistical modeling which arise in this area, and present illustrative results from the analysis of social interactions with children and adults.


Alex GamesAlex Games

Senior PM, Learning and Engagement Lead, Microsoft Studios, Redmond, WA, USA;  Adjunct Associate Professor, Michigan State University, MI, USA;  Member of the Board of Directors, Information Technology Empowerment Center, MI, USA

Dr. Alex Games is Senior Program Manager for Learning and Engagement at Microsoft. In this role, he oversees a program of research and development of E-Learning technologies that leverage play and game design to influence and manage change in employee learning, and productivity behaviors. Previously he served as design director for Playful Learning titles in Xbox where he oversaw the learning design aspects of titles such as Project Spark, Kodu Gamelab, Kinect Sesame Street TV, and Kinect Natgeo TV. Over the last 15 years he has been Principal Investigator and faculty in the Games for Entertainment and Learning Lab at Michigan State University, and Lead Researcher and co-designer of the Gamestar Mechanic Project at the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Games, Learning, and Society center. He is author of numerous numerous academic journal articles and book chapters, and is a frequent speaker at Academic conferences on play, games, and learning. His work has been featured in Proceedings of the International Conference of the Learning Sciences, Learning, Media and Technology, The Guardian, and Edutopia..

Keynote: Sunday, March 29th | 13:30 – 14:25

Microsoft Playful Learning: Driving Diversity in Entertainment, Readiness and Productivity through Creative Play  – VIDEO

This session will cover the philosophy and sociotechnical science approach that are being applied at Microsoft to expand user perspectives of the relationships between their work, learning and play.  The session will explore a series of studies conducted at Microsoft over the last 3 years, intended to shed light on the impact that diverse approaches to UI/UX merging play, productivity, and learning can have on transforming user habits, behavior and culture. Examples of these experiments will be discussed and demoed where appropriate, as well as the lessons learned from them and their potential implications for Microsoft and our stakeholders.