Monthly Archives: January 2014

Play Historia with Rick Brennan and Jason Darnell on EdGamer

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From the Show notes from EDGAMER;

“EdGamer 120: Play Historia with Rick Brennan and Jason Darnell

This week on EdGamer 120 we have two fantastic guests from the new gaming initiative ‘Historia.’ New FOEs Jason Darnell and Rick Brennan to tell us how ‘Historia’ harnesses the power of history and games to prepare students for a rapidly changing world. You are going to want this in your classroom! But don’t take our word for it, tune-in and level-up!

Ender’s Game

Game Club and Links on Symbaloo

The Hour of Code

STEAM Machine

Historia

Historia at NCSS

Show Host: Zack Gilbert

Show Contributor/Producer: Gerry James  

Show Guest: Rick Brennan

Show Guest: Jason Darnell”

To browse the EdGamer archives click here;

http://edreach.us/channel/edgamer/#

Staffordshire University to Open Game Development Facilities

of Gamespot writes that;

“Epic Games collaborated with Staffordshire University in England to open the Epic Games Centre, a fully equipped space for use by students in the university’s games design courses.

“There’s a lot of talk about the need for the industry to get more involved with the academic process and have a greater input into how games design is taught,” European Territory Manager at Epic Games Mike Gamble said in press release. “This collaboration will enable Staffs students to have a direct link with Epic and a direct line to the heart of the industry. In turn, Epic and its developer partners will have access to these world-class facilities along with a new generation of game makers totally immersed within the world of Unreal Engine technology.”

To read the full article click here;

http://www.gamespot.com/articles/epic-games-invests-in-higher-education/1100-6417349/

Games Can Help Struggling Students Learn

More educators are using online games to supplement teaching, and are seeing positive results.

, of US News, writes that;

“It seems like kids do everything online these days – and school is no exception.  More and more, educators are taking advantage of digital advances to supplement their teaching in the classroom, and are seeing encouraging results. This is especially the case for certain subgroups of students that typically struggle academically, such as English language learners and special education students.

“The classroom you went to school in is almost the exact same classroom you’d walk into today, but the level of engagement our kids get outside of the classroom has changed dramatically,” says Jessica Lindl, general manager of the digital gaming company GlassLab and a spokesperson for the game SimCityEDU. “Teachers are almost the entertainers trying to find whatever tool they can to try to engage their kids.”

Lindl says the SimCityEDU game helps engage kids by helping them improve basic cognitive functions and critical thinking. In the game, students serve as the mayor of a city and are immediately faced with challenges – they must address environmental impacts on the city while maintaining employment needs and other relationships.

Although Lindl says it’s important to use games as a supplement to classroom-based learning, such digital outlets have added benefits.

“There is continuous positive feedback,” Lindl says. “Learners are way more likely to feel comfortable with a video game than taking a standardized test and that’s really powerful.”

Additionally, video games in the classroom provide teachers, administrators and parents with a plethora of data to give assessments on students’ performances that Lindl says is invaluable, not just because of the granularity of the data, but also because it shows student achievements in real time. Other times, parents and students may have to wait weeks or months, depending on the test, to see their results.

“When you think of learning games, engagement and game mechanics is exciting, but there’s a critical value proposition around game-based assessments that we’re seeing,” Lindl says. “Teachers, students and parents can have in the moment understanding of what the child is learning, how they arrived at that learning and accelerate what the learning is, as opposed to waiting weeks down the road.”

Another valuable aspect of using games in the classroom is the competition (and hence reward) mechanisms built into some games.

At Mario Umana Academy in Boston, students from kindergarten through eighth grade have been using a program called First in Math since 2010.”

To read the full article by, of US News, click here;

http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2013/11/26/how-virtual-games-can-help-struggling-students-learn

Students Who Move as They Play Video Games Retain What They Learn

 

Judy Crawford writes;

“It might resemble the hokey pokey, but these students doing arm circles, jumping jacks and dance steps are actually learning about nutrition and physics using whole-body movements shown to help knowledge retention. Such “mixed-reality” games that merge the digital with the physical are being developed and tested by Mina Johnson-Glenberg in Arizona State University’s Embodied Games for Learning Lab.

“ASU is already at the forefront of games and ,” said Johnson-Glenberg, associate research professor in ASU’s Learning Sciences Institute, T. Denny Sanford School of Social and Family Dynamics and Department of Psychology. “But our lab is really the only one in the country pushing hard on the principles

behind this kind of embodied learning and also creating games for K-12 classrooms.”

Johnson-Glenberg also is creating games for ASU faculty to use with their college-aged , either in class or as homework modules. These new role-playing games focus on research methods and how to retain first-generation students. The games will be released to faculty online in spring 2014. For more about the lab, visit http://egl.lsi.asu.edu/.

Trained as a cognitive psychologist, Johnson-Glenberg began her career working in academia on one of the first computer tutoring programs to remediate students with dyslexia. She then turned entrepreneur by starting a small educational technology company funded by several small business grants from the National Institutes of Health and U.S. Department of Education. Six years ago, Johnson-Glenberg moved to ASU where she could focus on creating serious games for learning.

Young students jog, jump and dance to retain what they learn

“We have found that students retain knowledge better when they learn it with their bodies,” she explained. “And these motion-capture gesture-rich games have the added benefit of getting students out of their seats and moving.”

Johnson-Glenberg noted that in 2010, more than one-third of U.S. adolescents were considered overweight or obese. She decided to create the “Alien Health Game” to address the wellness of middle school student players on two fronts. First, it is an “exergame” that requires active physical engagement in order to play, and second, the game’s content promotes healthful eating choices. ASU’s Obesity Solutions Initiative awarded the game a seed grant in spring 2013.

To play the Alien Health Game, students must work in pairs while the rest of the class is encouraged to throw out suggestions. “There’s a lot of discourse going on,” Johnson-Glenberg explained.

 

Before game play starts, the players are instructed, “You have just woken up to find an alien under your bed. It is hungry and it is your job to figure out what makes it healthy.” As students make rapid food choices, they deduce through trial and error which foods make the alien healthier and which foods make it more tired due to poor nutrition. Students not only discover how the five main nutrients interact to create a balanced meal, but they also gain experience with the new U.S. Department of Agriculture MyPlate nutrition guide that recently replaced the familiar Food Pyramid.

With each food choice, players are asked to perform brief cardiovascular activities – jogging, arm circles, dance moves and jumping jacks – that elevate their heart rate and help the alien metabolize food. The gives them practice in selecting nutritional foods in real-world situations, such as going through a school cafeteria line or grabbing snacks at convenience stores.”

To read the full article by Judy Crawford click here;

http://medicalxpress.com/news/2014-01-young-students-retain.html

Video Games Help Girls to Develop Math and Spatial Reasoning Skills

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of Mind/Shift writes that;

“Girls should play more video games. That’s one of the unexpected lessons I take away from a rash of recent studies on the importance of—and the malleability of—spatial skills.

First, why spatial skills matter: The ability to mentally manipulate shapes and otherwise understand how the three-dimensional world works turns out to be an important predictor of creative and scholarly achievements, according to research published this month in the journal Psychological Science. The long-term study found that 13-year-olds’ scores on traditional measures of mathematical and verbal reasoning predicted the number of scholarly papers and patents these individuals produced three decades later.

But high scores on tests of spatial ability taken at age 13 predicted something more surprising: the likelihood that the individual would develop new knowledge and produce innovation in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, the domains collectively known as STEM.

The good news is that spatial abilities can get better with practice. A meta-analysis of 217 research studies, published in the journal Psychological Science last year, concluded that “spatial skills are malleable, durable and transferable”: that is, spatial skills can be improved by training; these improvements persist over time; and they “transfer” to tasks that are different from the tasks used in the training.

This last point is supported by a study published just last month in the Journal of Cognition and Development, which reported that training children in spatial reasoning can improve their performance in math. A single twenty-minute training session in spatial skills enhanced participants’ ability to solve math problems, suggesting that the training “primes” the brain to tackle arithmetic, says study author and Michigan State University education professor Kelly Mix.

Playing an action video game “can virtually eliminate” the gender difference in a basic capacity they call spatial attention.

Findings like these have led some researchers to advocate for the addition of spatial-skills training to the school curriculum. That’s not a bad idea, but here’s another way to think about it: the informal education children receive can be just as important as what they learn in the classroom. We need to think more carefully about how kids’ formal and informal educational experiences fit together, and how one can fill gaps left by the other.

If traditional math and reading skills are emphasized at school, for example, parents can make sure that spatial skills are accentuated at home—starting early on, with activities as simple as talking about the spatial properties of the world around us. A 2011 study from researchers at the University of Chicago reported that the number of spatial terms (like “circle,” “curvy,” and “edge”) parents used while interacting with their toddlers predicted how many of these kinds of words children themselves produced, and how well they performed on spatial problem-solving tasks at a later age.”

To read the full article by click here;

http://blogs.kqed.org/mindshift/2013/07/can-playing-video-games-give-girls-an-edge-in-math/

Video Games and Spatial Creativity

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Jonathan Wai wrote a very compelling article on “Why We Need To Value Students’ Spatial Creativity”.  He reminds us of the spatially creative inventors and geniuses who have contributed so much to to science and industry.  Then he reveals how schools  neglects the development of spacial creativity.  He makes clear connections between the video games, the development of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) skills and spacial creativity;

“The research is clear that spatial skill is important for STEM careers, and perhaps we can even enhance spatial skill to help more people join the STEM fields. What we need is research directed at understanding the best ways to develop the talent of students who are high spatial, but relatively lower math/verbal. Perhaps spatial video games and online learning coupled with hands on interventions might help these students.”

Wai also writes that;

Spatial thinking “finds meaning in the shape, size, orientation, location, direction or trajectory, of objects,” and their relative positions, and “uses the properties of space as a vehicle for structuring problems, for finding answers, and for expressing solutions.” Spatial skill can be measured through reliable and valid paper-and-pencil tests—primarily ones that assess three dimensional mental visualization and rotation. Read more about examples of items that measure spatial skill here.

But despite the value of these kinds of skills, spatially talented students are, by and large, neglected. Nearly a century ago, a talent search conducted by Lewis Terman used the highly verbal Stanford-Binet in an attempt to discover the brightest kids in California. This test identified a boy named Richard Nixon who would eventually become the U.S. president, but two others would miss the cut likely because the Stanford-Binet did not include a spatial test: William Shockley and Luis Alvarez, who would go on to become famous physicists and win the Nobel Prize.

Today talent searches often use the SAT and ACT which include math, verbal, and writing sections, but do not include a spatial measure. All of the physicists described above (and Tesla who could do integral calculus in his head) would likely qualify today at least on the math section, and Edison would likely have qualified on the verbal section due to his early love of reading.  However, there are many students who have high spatial talent but relatively lower math and verbal talent who are likely missed by modern talent searches and therefore fail to have their talent developed to the extent it could.  Also, because colleges use the SAT and ACT for selecting students, many high spatial students likely do not make it onto college campuses.

Nearly every standardized test given to students today is heavily verbal and mathematical.  Students who have the high spatial and lower math/verbal profile are therefore missed in nearly every school test and their talent likely goes missed, and thus under-developed. What’s more, spatially talented people are often less verbally fluent, and unlikely to be very vocal. Finally, teachers are unlikely to have a high spatial profile themselves (and typically have the inverted profile of high verbal and lower math/spatial), and although they probably do not intend to, they’re more likely to miss seeing talent in students who are not very much like themselves.”

One topic that Wai did not address is the effect of the gender imbalance, in teaching, on the neglect of spacial creativity in US. Schools.  When one gender so dominates the teaching profession, we should expect that certain aspects of creativity will necessarily be neglected.  Gender diversity is better for all professions.  Gender diversity in the teaching profession would go a long way toward fostering the development of spacial creativity in students.

To read the full article by Jonathan Wai on Mind/Shift click here;

http://blogs.kqed.org/mindshift/2013/07/why-we-need-to-value-spatial-creativity/

Senate bill encourages learning via video games

“…create a committee to examine how interactive gaming can boost student involvement and achievement, and create a pilot program for integrating games into K-12 curriculum.

The bill was heard Wednesday in Olympia by the Senate Committee on Early Learning & K-12 Education.

Sen. Sharon Brown, R-Kennewick, one of the bill’s co-sponsors, said interactive video games could add to the diverse learning styles of today’s classrooms.

“We have all different types of learners,” Brown said. “We need to address that, and this is one of those ways.”

Sen. Rosemary McAuliffe, D-Bothell, thinks interactive gaming will give students the opportunity to learn while enjoying a game, something she experienced while visiting students of Washington Virtual Academies (WAVA), an online K-12 curriculum program used by the Monroe and Omak public school districts.

Studies from the University of Washington’s Center for Game Science show interactive games can promote creativity and enhance knowledge of science and technology-based fields among students.

“I think we have to bring that technology into the classroom (and) into our schools,” McAuliffe said, “because kids are way ahead of us in that right now.”

Seattle attorney Matthew Hooper testified about academic-based gaming in schools. A report from the Entertainment Software Association indicates 95 percent of American children — and 97 percent of teenagers — play video games, he said.

By the time an average person reaches age 21, he of she has spent more than 10,000 hours playing video games, according to the Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project.

“Their brains are learning, from a very early age, differently than we did,” Hooper told the committee. “It’s no longer absorbing passive information; it’s now absorbing interactive information.”

Hooper also cited a brain-based research study by Stanford University professor and neuroscientist Brian Knutson that analyzed the effects of educational video games on youths.

The study used MRIs to monitor student brains in two groups: those engaged in playing interactive games, and those passively watching the games.”

To read the full article click here;

http://www.tri-cityherald.com/2014/01/23/2789806/state-senate-bill-encourages-learning.html

SENATE BILL REPORT
SB 6104As of January 22, 2014Title
: An act relating to the interactive gaming in schools public-private partnership.
Brief Description
: Establishing the interactive gaming in schools public-private partnership.

Sponsors
: Senators McAuliffe, Litzow, Hargrove, Hill, Billig, Fraser and Brown.

Brief History:
Committee Activity: Early Learning & K-12Education: 1/22/14.
SENATE COMMITTEE ON EARLY LEARNING & K-12 EDUCATION

Staff
: Eric Wolf (786-7405)

Background
: Advances in interactive gaming technology have spurred a recent scholarly focus on how interactive games may be used to engage students and improve academic achievement. For instance, the Center for Game Science at the University of Washington has published several studies on the application of interactive games in education, specifically how interactive games can promote creativity among students; enhance student knowledge of science, technology, engineering, and technology (STEM) fields; and improve critical thinking skills through cognitive skill training games.

Summary of Bill: Interactive Gaming in Schools Public-Private Partnership (PPP). PPP is established, composed of the following members to be appointed by August 1, 2014: four legislators, one member from each caucus of the House and Senate, appointed by the presiding officers of each chamber; four experts in the integration of interactive technology or gaming into education, one expert to be appointed by each caucus of the House and Senate, and appointed by the presiding officers of each chamber; a representative of the Department of Early Learning (DEL), appointed by the director; and a representative of the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI), appointed by the Superintendent of Public Instruction.

The chair of PPP must be selected from among the legislative members. To the extent funds are appropriated, PPP may hire a staff person who must reside at OSPI for administrative purposes. Additional technical and logistical support is to be provided by OSPI, DEL, and
–––––––––––––––––––––

This analysis was prepared by non-partisan legislative staff for the use of legislative members in their deliberations. This analysis is not a part of the legislation nor does it constitute a statement of legislative intent.

Senate Bill Report
SB 6104

the organizations participating in PPP. Legislative members of the partners hip must receive per diem and travel expenses, and nonlegislative members may be reimbursed for travel expenses.

Purpose of PPP.
PPP is tasked with examining how interactive games may be integrated into primary and secondary education to increase student involvement and achievement. PPP must consider how interactive games and advances in technology may be integrated into curricula from early learning through grade 12, and develop a proposal for a pilot program to integrate interactive gaming in schools to be submitted to the Legislature by December 1,2015. The statute authorizing PPP expires on January 1, 2016.

Appropriation
: None.

Fiscal Note
: Available.

Committee/Commission/Task Force Created
: Yes.

Effective Date
: Ninety days after adjournment of session in which bill is passed.

Staff Summary of Public Testimony

: PRO: Games are al ready being integrated into curricula in order to engage students. Students love the games and are excited to even use the games at home each night. Ninety-five percent of children play video games, and the average time of play is over two hours each day. A scientific study from Stanford showed that educational, interactive video games engaged regions of the brain associated with motivation, learning, and memory. In 2012 the Clark County, Nevada school district tested a program in which interactive video games were integrated into low-performing schools. The schools using the games more than doubled their improvement on assessments compared to schools that did not use the assessment. In San Jose, there is a school that integrated interactive media and video games and has particularly notable success with English language learners. Most of the interactive game systems are set up in computer labs in schools, so students do not always require a computer or iPad of their own to participate.

Persons Testifying
: PRO: Senator McAuliffe, prime sponsor; Matthew Hooper, attorney.
Senate Bill Report
SB 6104
– 2 –

Coding is the new literacy – games can help

Ira Flatow of Science Friday (one of the best shows on National Public Radio), Interviewed Hadi Partovi of Code.org on the importance of teaching young people to code.  Code.org encouraged the development of CodeCombat – a game that teaches players to program in Java Script.  Learning to code helps students to develop Higher Order Thinking Skills and other crucial  21st Century Skills.

From Science Friday (NPR);

“With smartphones, tablets, and apps, coding is becoming the language of the digital age, but is the U.S. lagging behind? A panel of experts discusses how we can improve our coding literacy and close the programming gap among women and minorities.”

Produced by Alexa Lim, Associate Producer
Produced by Annie Minoff, SciArts Producer
Guests
  • Hadi Partovi
    CEO and Co-founder, Code.org
    Seattle, Washington
  • Jane Margolis
    Senior Researcher
    Graduate School of Education and Information Studies
    University of California, Los Angeles
    Los Angeles, California
  • Vanessa Hurst
    Founder, CodeMontage
    Co-founder, Girl Develop It
    New York, New York
Related Links

Code.org

To listen to the program on Science Friday click here;

http://www.sciencefriday.com/segment/01/24/2014/is-coding-the-language-of-the-digital-age.html

$10,000 Video Game Scholarship

2013 Winner - Alicia Cano

Alicia Cano, University of Central Florida

2013 Winner of the $10,000 Penny Arcade Scholarship

Penny Arcade announces;

“Orlando, FL– Alicia Cano, a recent graduate of UCF’s graduate game-development program, the Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy (FIEA), is the national recipient of the 2013 Penny Arcade Scholarship. The scholarship is worth $10,000.

The Penny Arcade Scholarship was established in 2007 to recognize students who have the most potential to positively impact the video game industry.

Cano, who was in the programming track at FIEA, was one of 57 student producers, programmers and artists that graduated FIEA on Dec. 13, 2013. She got her undergraduate degree from the University of Florida in computer engineering in 2007 and is currently a programmer at local game developer Iron Galaxy Orlando.

“I’m thrilled to receive this scholarship and happy that Penny Arcade recognized my desire to make a difference in video games,” Cano said.

Winners must be a full-time student at an accredited university at the time of application and maintain a minimum of a 3.3 GPA. Previous winners include FIEA alumnus Hunter Hart, who was the 2011 recipient.

The Penny Arcade was founded in 1998 as a web comic created by Jerry Holkins and Mike Krahulik. Since their debut they have expanded Penny Arcade to include Child’s Play, a children’s charity, and Penny Arcade eXpo (or PAX) an annual gaming convention.”

– from http://www.penny-arcade.com/scholarship

Details on the Scholarship;

Am I eligible for the scholarship?

As long as you meet the following criteria, yes!

  1. Must be a full-time student attending an accredited college or university in the United States during the 2013-2014 academic school year (you must be currently enrolled in a program to be eligible; high school seniors are not eligible).
  2. Must have the intention to enter the game industry in some capacity.
  3. Major: Any field.
  4. GPA: 3.3 minimum on a 4.0 scale.

Can I apply for someone else or on behalf of someone else?

No. The application and letter must be completed by the intended recipient of the scholarship.

When will the winner be notified?

A congratulatory letter will be sent in July of that year. The award is contingent upon your written acceptance, to be returned within three weeks of the date of the letter.

What if I have a question that isn’t on this FAQ?

Feel free to send an email to scholarship@penny-arcade.com

Millions of students learn to program in Java while playing a game

Kids playing Hour of Code

“In one week last week, Code.org’s Hour of Code reached more than 15 million students in 170 countries. Every major tech company promoted it, celebrities talked about it, and even the US President helped get the word out in their kickoff video. And shooting past Code.org’s crazy target of ten million players, kids are still continuing to play this week, with 600 million lines of code written and one in five US schoolchildren participating (with six times as many girls playing last week than have ever taken a computer science class in the US). It spread to more students in seven days than the first seven months of Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, Instagram combined.

As one of Code.org’s partners, we at CodeCombat were both excited and hilariously unprepared to help teach such a sizable swarm of students to defeat the 44 ogres in our beginner campaign. Read on for what we learned from the onslaught of child programmers, including how obsessed kids are with games, how American students are the best trolls and the worst programmers, just how badly a user experience test can go, and the unfortunate difference between reddit traffic and school traffic.”

To read the full article click here;

http://sett.com/codecombat/180000-child-programmers-versus-44-ogres