The Canadian Exergaming Research Centre (CERC) in Calgary, Alberta conducts ongoing research into the benefits of active games on learning and fitness.
Canada's first Exergaming Research Centre, opened at Calgary's Foundations for the Future Academy southwest campus in June 2009, is an innovative research facility that studies the possible benefits of interactive games on learning and physical fitness. The centre uses active games like Wii Fit, Lightspace technology, and Exerboards to conduct research and discover the positive effects of combining the element of exercise with traditional video games. The studies are designed to measure the effect of interactive games and technologies on skills like reaction time, agility, balance, and laterality.
Researchers at the centre aim to discover whether the new generation of interactive games can really have an effect on children and youth fitness levels and if the benefits provided by these games can help curb the growing incidence of obesity among children. The exergaming facility itself serves not as a replacement for sports and physical activity, but as a fun alternative to traditional sedentary video games.
The research facility is led by Dr. Larry Katz, Professor and Director of the Sport Technology Research Laboratory (STRL) at the Faculty of Kinesiology, whose experience with interactive games helps with the practical implementation of exergaming equipment in schools. Dr. Katz, an award-winning developer of interactive applications, is the principal researcher at the centre. With extensive experience in kinesiology, education, educational psychology, learning, and multimedia technologies, he is looking to discover new ways to improve human performance through the use of innovative technologies. The particular areas of interest Katz is looking to explore include learning integration, individualised learning, personalised assessment, and motivating students to rediscover their preschool enthusiasm for learning.
Dwayne Sheehan, Coordinator at Mount Royal University and another lead researcher at the centre, spent 19 years as a physical education teacher in the K-12 system before joining the Department of Physical Education and Recreation Studies at Mount Royal University in 2008. He is a recipient of the CAHPERD Young Professional Award and his previous jobs include serving as President of the Alberta Health and Physical Education Council (HPEC) and President of the Alberta Schools Athletic Association (AASA).
Located in southwest Calgary, the Canadian Exergaming Research Centre (CERC) is a collaboration between the Faculty of Kinesiology at the University of Calgary, Mount Royal College, and the Foundations for the Future school. The program is partly funded by the Alberta Government through the Alberta Lottery Fund's community initiatives program.
The children at the Canadian Exergaming Research Centre are having fun playing interactive games, but are also expected to acquire knowledge and develop skills related to the outcomes of the Alberta Physical Education Program of Studies. They are given workbooks for each piece of active gaming equipment they use, which allows them to report their own results, set goals, and analyse their performance and progress using personalised feedback provided by the active games. The researchers are looking to find out whether the kids can monitor their own performance reliably and use the data they are given in areas like science or math in order to learn these subjects in a meaningful context.
The Canadian Exergaming Research Centre has had ongoing support and advice from iTEch Fitness, a leading developer and manufacturer of equipment for the fitness, recreation, and entertainment industries and the company behind XRKade, a familiar global fitness gaming brand. iTech Fitness aims to make fitness fun by combining exercise with gaming technologies. The company's expertise helps ensure that the centre delivers developmentally appropriate active gaming solutions for all children.
For more information please visit www.ucalgary.ca/exergaming/