The U.S. Education Department launched the EdSim Challenge on Wednesday for simulation-based learning solutions.

The cash prize pool includes $680,000 with additional winnings from IBM, Microsoft, Oculus, and Samsung. The challenge asks virtual reality specialists, video game developers, and education professionals to create ideas for educational simulations that would prepare students for future careers.

In a video on the EdSim website, a student came home from school to tell her father that she’d removed a patient’s inflamed appendix that day. The students had reached level 5 of anatomy and level 3 of medical instruments in the video game that her class was using to learn about becoming a doctor. The EdSim challenge is looking for solutions like that for students to immerse themselves in specific careers to prepare for the future.

“This initiative is an exciting example of how virtual reality and game technologies can be applied to give students everywhere the tools to prepare for future success,” said Johan Uvin, acting assistant secretary for career, technical, and adult education at the Department of Education. “We encourage developers from all disciplines to answer our call and help define the future of applied learning.”

The EdSim challenge said that virtual learning gives students experiences in information retention, engagement, skills acquisition, and learning outcomes.

The submissions will be judged based on learning outcomes including whether the challenge has clearly defined goals, a description of the student skills that the challenge intends to improve, and a mechanism to provide feedback. The challenge will also need to include student engagement and commitment.

The submissions should have an implementation strategy that considers cost constraints and technology integration, and the potential to connect with other simulations.

The participants must submit their projects by Jan. 17, 2017. The five finalists that will be selected to advance in the competition will each win $50,000 and a chance to work with an expert mentor to improve their proposal and make a prototype.

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Morgan Lynch
Morgan Lynch
Morgan Lynch is a Staff Reporter for MeriTalk covering Federal IT and K-12 Education.