Street Performer: Grafton Street, Dublin

Our Story

BrainShift is a Massachusetts-based 501c(3) educational non-profit. BrainShift combines education, entertainment, and technology to create highly visual, interactive, and engaging learning experiences. Below are two examples of BrainShift projects.

Energy Smackdown

Innovative social marketing strategy to increase residential energy efficiency program participation and savings. Three urban communities formed teams and competed over a 12-month 4-season cycle to reduce energy use and CO2 emissions. Average heating fuel reduction for all households was 17%; electricity reduction was 14%. Funded by the Kendall Foundation, Barr Foundation, National Grid, EVERSOURCE, GenOn Energy. Recognized by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory study “Driving Demand for Home Energy Improvements.” Seven-part video docuseries distributed via Internet and community-access television. See energysmackdown.com

Energy Smackdown

Payment Systems College

Equip new service station managers with relevant, immediately applicable knowledge that they can use to improve the performance of their convenience stores. A game challenge with 4 levels of increasingly difficulty and 9 learning modules, each module composed of a 30-second introduction, 6 animated practice scenarios, 6 animated test questions, and a report of user progress. Based on actual store profiles and customer traffic patterns. Features include a convenience store landscape with animated employees, customers, vehicles, gas pumps, checkout registers, and product shelves. A virtual host who guides the user and provides intelligent feedback. Pre- and post-test questions that check for understanding of relevant concepts, procedures, strategies, and principles. User results tracking by module, storing user performance to a delimited file for import into the client LMS. An update feature allows clients to change discrete text elements by editing an external SQL table or XML file. Branded with the client look and feel. Developed in Flash 2D playable on Internet broadband, DVD, PC or Mac environments.

We at the BrainShift Foundation don’t apologize for being a little different. We think that ‘different’ gives color to life and color is celebration, spirit. We try to make our solutions exuberant and hard-hitting. Why not when today is what we have right here, right now? Exactly.
Technically, the BrainShift Foundation is an Arlington, Massachusetts 501c(3) educational non-profit dedicated to engage and empower communities to accelerate the adoption of energy efficiency technologies.

At the BrainShift Foundation, we see the potential to achieve large-scale energy savings through inspiration and education. Moreover, we believe that our generation of future leaders needs to become informed about energy if they are going to lead the energy debate towards secure and safe practices.
Their first project was a community-based “alternate-reality game” to increase community engagement and motivation in the area of energy efficiency.
The Vision

It should be possible to…

  • Engage large numbers of people emotionally on the topic of energy conservation. Emotional engagement is critical to behavior change.
  • Create a energy conservation program that is truly recreational. In simple terms, a brain enjoying itself is functioning more efficiently.
From Three Words

An exciting new model for energy conservation…the Energy Smackdown!

BrainShift introduces Dilemma-Based LearningTM, a radically- new approach to e-learning that helps users understand and navigate real-life dilemmas. Brainshift combines traditional e-learning methods such as the case study method with smart games, moderated chat rooms, and Think Tanks-a powerful combination that brings entertainment to the learning process. Like a go-cart track for the Web-savvy learner, BrainShift puts users in the driver’s seat, their hands on the wheel and smack into situations that force them to negotiate a complicated terrain made up of gray areas, ethical choices, delayed feedback, and unintended consequences. When life gets complex and standard formulas fail, it helps to know how the system works.

di·lem·ma A situation involving two or more equally conclusive alternatives.

“If life on earth is governed by the natural laws of living systems, then a successful participant should learn the rules.”␣ Stephen Haines, Centre for Strategic Management

How can Dilemma-Based LearningTM help?
Dilemma-Based Learning gives users the tools to “see” the results of today’s decisions so they can “feel” the impact, and try out a variety of scenarios. By allowing people to project themselves into the future and understand how the system works, BrainShift helps them to work through their own dilemmas. They get a clearer picture of what the future might hold, and as a result are more inclined to take purposeful and appropriate action.

The Example of Stan
Stan is a Project Manager in a software development organization. He knows that he can motivate his team if he goes to bat for them and wins the best projects. But to get the good projects, Stan has to over-promise on delivery dates and deliverables.
Naturally, the other project managers do the same. The result is a bidding war. If Stan wins the war, he has a dilemma since he cannot possibly deliver on what he promised. Missed targets make Sales unhappy and they add to Development’s reputation for being unreliable.
A traditional approach to dealing with Stan’s dilemma is to present information extolling the dangers of over- promising. In principle, Stan reads, reflects on the material, and changes his behavior. But the traditional model has serious flaws. For one, unless Stan’s reading is reinforced in meaningful ways, he will quickly forget what he has learned. More importantly, Stan already knows about the dangers of over-promising. In his mind, if the other managers hadn’t over-promised, he would be all set! Dilemma-Based Learning helps people like Stan visualize the mental models at play by giving them a sense how variables in the system are related, their relative importance, and the impact of time delays on decisions.