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Traditional "chalk and talk" teaching in civil engineering is gradually being replaced with active learning that focuses on encouraging students to discover knowledge with innovative pedagogical methods and tools. One interesting such tool is the board game. This research examines the efficacy of adopting transportation board games as a tool in graduate-level transportation planning and transportation economics classes at the University of Minnesota from 2008 to 2011. The Department of Civil Engineering offered these courses with transportation board games on weekday nights. Students were asked to evaluate the effects of the games on their learning and to write self-reflective essays about their findings. The postgame survey revealed that the students' understanding of the planning process, network deployment, and practical issues, and their ability to form opinions about transportation planning had improved. Student essays on the game economy and its implications on planning further validated that the learning outcomes derived from this game process met the pedagogical goals. This analysis shows that students who are oriented toward learning more on the basis of the visual, sensing, active, or sequential learning styles, with all else being equal, tend to learn more effectively through this approach than those who do not share these learning styles. Overall, this research suggests that properly incorporating board games into the curriculum can enhance students' learning in transportation planning.

MARC

Xuan Di, Henry Liu, and David Levinson. (2012) Multi-agent Route Choice Game for Transportation Engineering. (Working paper)

In undergraduate transportation engineering courses, traffic assignment is a difficult concept for both instructors to teach and for students to learn, because it involves many mathematical derivations and computations. We have designed a multiplayer game to engage students in the process of learning route choice, so that students can visualize how the traffic gradually reach user equilibrium (UE). For one scenario, we employ a Braess' Paradox, and explore the phenomenon during the game-play. We have done the case-control and before-after comparisons. The statistical results show that, students who played the game improve their understanding of the Braess' Paradox more than those who did not play. Among game players, younger students benefit more in their learning; while those who are not comfortable with exploring a phenomenon on their own think this game not as effective as those who prefer hands-on learning experiences.

Linklist: April 26, 2012

Via AO: Rock, Paper, Shotgun: And Now The Game: A SimCity Preview :

"It extends to traffic as well, which also initially sounds more boring than a visit to the plywood factory with the lead singer of Keane, but has all manner of fascinating repercussions. When a new citizen moves into your city, they actually move in – removal van, arduous unloading of cardboard boxes, the lot. If your roads are narrow or busy, that big van parking up on the street might cause traffic to slow down or even gridlock in that area. Which isn’t necessarily a problem – this is modern living, right? But what if there’s a fire engine stuck in that traffic queue? And what if one of your buildings has just suffered an arson attack from one of the ‘personality’ NPCs who’s recently pitched up in town looking to cause trouble?"

Spatial Analysis: Sensing the City: Mapping London’s Population Flows [Lots of cool visualizations, some linked here before, some new].

Stephen Levy @ Wired: Can an Algorithm Write a Better News Story Than a Human Reporter? [Yes]

Linklist: March 7, 2012

YouTube has Videos mentioned by The Transportationist.org all conveniently in one place (of course, not all of them, just YouTube ones).

PCWorld says Robotic Cheetah Sets a New Robot Land Speed Record, Leaves Humans in its Dust:

"The new Cheetah Robot is the latest animatronic creation to come out of DARPA's Maximum Mobility and Manipulation program. It is the fastest four-legged robot in the world, and it can reach speeds of 18 miles-per-hour; the previous land-speed record for a four-legged robot was 13.1mph set by MIT in 1989."

Ars Technica: Maxis announces new SimCity for 2013:

"During a Game Developers Conference presentation to gathered press, Bradshaw noted its been roughly ten years since Maxis last released a core SimCity title, and that the phones in many people's pockets now have the same power as the machines that ran SimCity 4 back then. The new SimCity will take advantage of advances in computer power to be the first truly 3D entry in the series. "This is like an entirely new playground for us, and we're going to take advantage of it," she said."
[It would be nice if they opened up the algorithm.]

Jamais Cascio: Open the Future: Record Battery Energy Density in Context:

"A tech company called Envia Systems has announced that it is able to produce rechargeable lithium-ion batteries (Li-ion, i.e., the standard kind of rechargeable batteries that go in everything from phones to electric cars) with a world-record energy density of 400 Watt-hours per kilogram! (Gigaom has lots of info, and useful background material.) Cool, right?"

Reihan Salam on Ed Glaeser on Infrastructure Spending:

"To that end, Glaeser calls for more user fees, congestion pricing, the decentralization of transportation spending, and, perhaps most interestingly, devoting the Highway Trust Fund to maintenance, leaving state governments to fund new projects themselves. (Here Glaeser is drawing on the excellent work of Matthew Kahn and David Levinson.) It’s a very sensible agenda, and it avoids the twin pitfalls of infrastructure alarmism and misplaced China envy. "

Linklist: December 9, 2011

AB tells me that The Gaming Gang reviewsUrban Sprawl : "Having lived most of my life in Chicago, I understand the concept that urban development can be a cut-throat proposition – never for a moment think any great metropolis was built with a lot of hand holding and singing of Kumbayah… Nope, it was a dog fight all the way and Urban Sprawl brings that dog fight to your gaming table."

PZ tells me "Tolling started on the ICC, and as might be expected, traffic volumes went down, though my wife used it yesterday to get from Leisure World (where a co-worker of hers lives) to I-95. She loved the ICC (first time she'd driven on it). The MDOT/SHA/MdTA CHART site has a slew of cameras online, including several along the ICC."


Brian Pearce writes to the Economist: Letters: On airlines, space telescopes, American politics, Mexico's army, the Mekong delta, the Sex Pistols, goatee beards: "SIR – You questioned the level of competition in the airline industry (“Open the skies”, November 12th). Yet airlines struggle to survive in one of the most competitive business environments. Since deregulation began in America 30 years ago the real price of air travel worldwide has halved. During that period the average airline post-tax profit margin has been a paltry 0.03%." [There used to be a chart on the IATA site which had cumulative profits from the airline sector since the 1920s, but it is no longer there, does anyone have a copy. It basically showed that airlines have been net negative profitable over their cumulative existence]


GamesEva

Recent working paper:

  • Huang, Arthur and Levinson, David (2011) To game or not to game: teaching transportation planning with board games. (working paper)
Traditional "chalk and talk" teaching in civil engineering has gradually been replaced with the idea of active learning focusing on encouraging students' knowledge discovery with innovative pedagogical methods and tools. One interesting tool is the board game. This research examines the efficacy of adopting transportation board games as a tool in graduate-level transportation planning and transportation economics classes at the Department of Civil Engineering of the University of Minnesota from 2008 to 2010. In these classes, a weekday night was scheduled for playing transportation board games. Students were asked to evaluate the effectiveness of the games on their learning and to write a self-reflective paper about their findings. The majority of the students reveal that their understanding of the planning process, network deployment, and practical issues, and and their ability to form opinion about transportation planning has been improved. Their summaries on the game economy and its implications on planning validate that their understanding obtained from this game process has met the pedagogical goals. Our analysis further shows that students who are moderately/highly visual, sensing, active, or sequential, all else equal, tend to learn more effectively through this approach than those who are not. Overall, this research suggests that properly incorporating board games into the curriculum can enhance students' learning process in transportation planning.

Mac|Life says: Cities in Motion Arriving for Mac Today

Paradox Interactive announced today that its mass transportation simulator, Cities in Motion, will be released for Mac today. If you've got a burning desire to design mass transit systems to get millions of people to work (or if you're just frustrated with your own city's transit system and want to show them how it's done) this ultra-nerdy simulation may be for you.

Developed by a new Finnish (as in: from Finland) development studio (Colossal Order,) Cities in Motion could probably just as easily been called Traffic Tycoon as its gameplay resembles that of other crowd simulations like Rollercoaster Tycoon. Though Cities in Motion is doubtlessly a cooler name.

The game has been available on PC since late February and has garnered a mixed bag of review scores averaging out to a Metacritic rating of 70 (relatively average for the video game section of Metacritic.) Though a mixed reception is all that can reasonably be expected for a modern day train set.

Anyone with experience on the game? Should I get?


Why we still love board games

From FT (h/t Marginal Revolution), an interesting article, Why we still love board games

In Germany, serious board gaming is cool. Many of these games have a transportation or spatial economic theme (e.g. Ticket to Ride or Settlers of Catan).

David Levinson

Network Reliability in Practice

Evolving Transportation Networks

Place and Plexus

The Transportation Experience

Access to Destinations

Assessing the Benefits and Costs of Intelligent Transportation Systems

Financing Transportation Networks

View David Levinson's profile on LinkedIn

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