The CEL (Community of Evolving Learners) project is an Internet-based system where students engage in two-player, competitive, educational games. These games are straightforward and provide practice at basic skills (e.g. spelling, typing, arithmetic, geography).
The CEL project has many goals. First and foremost, we hope to demonstrate that the Internet can be used to enable a virtual learning community, where learners in disparate locations can come together and help each other advance. Second, the computer allows us to monitor students' activities and build a comprehensive model of a student's abilities. We can use student models to select individualized problems for users, based on their past interactions with the system. Third, student models can be used computationally to determine appropriate pairings of players, allowing us to control participants' win rates.
It is recognized that the use of competition in education is controversial. However, if
participants are anonymous and success rates are controlled, many of the more contentious issues
may be superseded in favor of the more powerful motivational aspects that competition can provide.