Monthly Archives: February 2014

Gaming to Learn – from Civilization to Call of Duty

of Ars Technica writes;

“Is there a place for games at higher levels of education? Schwartz would definitely argue yes, but he suggested that the role of the games would be different. Rather than developing basic skills, the games help give people an intuitive grasp of a subject, after which explanations for their intuitions can be supplied in the classroom.

This was done explicitly in one case, with the researchers building a Space Invaders-style game where each successive wave had a different pattern of invaders. The frequency of different patterns, rather than being random, was governed by statistical distributions. On its own, the game didn’t help players do any better on testing, since the tests were couched in terms like “normal distributions” and the like. To have an impact, the game had to be coupled with a written description of the statistical patterns. “A short written description helps everyone,” Schwartz said, “but gamers get much more out of it.”

The big surprise is that this effect spills over to commercial games that aren’t designed for educational purposes at all. Schwartz’s team had junior college students play about 15 hours of two different games: Civilization IV and Call of Duty 2. Afterwards, they were given short descriptions of real events from World War II that either focused on international relations or on tactical situations. The students were asked to formulate a series of questions they’d ask to better understand the circumstances.

When it came to international relations, the Civ-playing students were able to formulate more sophisticated and probing questions. But, when handed a tactical situation to analyze, Schwartz suggested they were completely lost, and often failed to come up with any questions at all. For the Call of Duty players, the converse was true.”

To read the full article click here;

http://arstechnica.com/science/2014/02/how-to-effectively-use-civ-iv-in-higher-education/

James Gee Interviewed on Game-Based Learning

James Paul Gee

of Games and Learning interviewed James Gee on game-based learning.

Banville writes that; “For more than a decade, James Paul Gee has been writing about the potential power of games and game mechanics to change the way we learn, to create new “deep” learners.

But in this newsmaker interview Gee says most of the possibilities of games remain unfulfilled as the American education system continues to focus on tests and fact retention.

He worries that even as learning games become more prevalent, they are in danger of being changed by the schools they seek to sell to rather than changing the school itself.

“The textbook was the worst educational invention ever made because it was a one size fits all type thing and we don’t want to do the same things with games. We don’t want to bring games to school,” he said. “We want to bring a networked system of tools and deep learning and practices that have been tested and are focused on problem solving and not just fact retention — that’s what we want to bring to school. Games can be a very important part of that mix.”

To read more click here; http://www.gamesandlearning.org/2014/02/10/newsmaker-james-gee-on-why-the-power-of-games-to-teach-remains-unrealized/

To Listen to the full interview click here;

A Learning Game to Combat Drugs, Alcohol, and Obesity

Clare Weir writes;

“A digital entrepreneur is in talks with educational authorities in the USA to sell his computer game which educates children on the dangers of drugs, alcohol and obesity.

Newcastle man Aaron Gibson (21) set up his games design company ‘YumPod Technologies’ at 18 and invented ‘You vs The World’ for children and teenagers.

An accompanying website is designed to fit into the school curriculum, and has already been accepted into over 300 schools in England, Scotland and Wales, with plans afoot to roll the game out in Northern Ireland schools shortly.”

To read the full article click here;

http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/business/news/kids-drug-education-game-to-hit-us-market-30001176.html

EdGamer Discusses the New Learning Initiative Gamifi-ED.

From the show notes of EdGamer;

EdGamer 126: How Gamifi-ED Empowers Students

This week on EdGamer 126 we bring back one of our favorite features of the show: new guests! Vicki DavisLee Graham and Colin Osterhout of the thriving new gaming and learning initiative Gamifi-ED. (We will be bringing Verena Roberts of Gamifi-ED on EdGamer in the near future) Listen in as we pick their brains about their wiki, personal views on education and some of their favorite games. Tune-in and level-up!

Hangouts On Air with Niilo – Focus – as always – on educational use of information technology

Schedule for SXSWedu

Redo

Intel Galileo

Intel Galileo Spec Sheet

Users should have their hands on Intel’s Galileo computer within two weeks

https://www.facebook.com/IntelGalileo

Oculus CEO, Humble Bundle and Towerfall creators make Forbes 30 Under 30 for games

http://gamifi-ed.wikispaces.com/  by Verena Roberts and shared to me by Wes Fryer

http://gamifi-ed.wikispaces.com/Quest+1


Quest 1 Questions:


  1. What is a serious game? Is there such a thing as a non-serious game?

  2. What are examples of serious games?

  3. How can serious games be evaluated? (Done with higher ed research and input)

Our Quest


  1. Evaluate the serious games that have been discovered and create recommendations and opinions on the usefulness and value of the games for improving the world and the lives of those who play them.

  2. Prepare a presentation to share the findings and create a public wiki sharing the findings.

Quest 2 and 3 Link

 Show Host: Zack Gilbert

Show Contributor/Producer: Gerry James  

Show GuestLee Graham

Show GuestColin Osterhout

Show GuestVicki Davis


 To browse the EdGamer archives click here;

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

Game play and mental fitness

ListenSpeech Icon

, Ellen M. Martin, and Melinda Speckmann write that;

“Games have been part of human culture for millennia. It is no surprise that elements of play can be powerful digital tools to grab our attention and keep us on a path to taking care of ourselves and others.

Big data is already behind brain games. The use of big data is becoming increasingly mainstream in health play applications. Once we are drawn in, game play (with big data under the hood) can help us to:

  1. Stay sharp,
  2. Stay well, and
  3. Overcome illness.

Staying sharp

Digital tools aim to make brain fitness fun by playing with the mental states our brains experience and project. Brain fitness games exercise different functions: short and long-term memory as well as accuracy and efficiency for processing information and solving problems.

Lumosity entered the consumer market with engaging user interfaces and now offers more than 40 games that challenge and train memory, flexibility, processing, speed, and problem solving. Two examples include Speed Match, which tests speed of visual processing, and Memory Matrix, which challenges the brain’s ability to remember spatial locations. Preliminary studies suggest that these games have beneficial long-term effects.

Using machine-learning algorithms, the games keep you interested by using feedback to deliver personalized questions for your engagement and by finding your learning sweet spot; not too easy but not too hard.

With over 50 million users and 1 billion game plays, Lumosity’s Human Cognition Project has launched 43 ongoing studies, exploring topics such as age-related cognitive decline, interventions for PTSD, and the relationship between physical exercise and Lumosity brain training.

Brain Resource aims to improve brain health, particularly to better diagnose and treat diseases of the mind such as depression and ADHD. The company began by building integrated, standardized data sets from screening questionnaires, cognitive assessments, genetic profiles, and MRI or fMRI scans. By standardizing measurement and procedures, the company can compare neural activity within various regions of the brain to better understand brain circuitry and interconnectedness.

The BRAINnet Database, (a.k.a. the Brain Resource International Database or BRID), available to global academic and research partners, has grown to 50,000 datasets. It includes 5,000 healthy controls from ages 6 to 100, plus more than 1,000 subjects with diagnoses such as depression, schizophrenia, and mild cognitive Impairment. Its standardization feature, unique among such databases, allows the comparison of brain function across disease states.

The insights derived from the BRAINnet Database have been commercialized into a brain assessment and training platform known as MyBrainSolutions. The brain training program is used by corporate wellness programs to promote brain health and resilience among employees. The site features 24 brain training exercises or games to improve cognitive and emotional functioning. In addition, MyCalmBeat facilitates control of stress, anxiety, and panic by providing feedback on heart rate.

Outcomes associated MyBrainSolutions include improved thinking and memory processes as well as emotional balance.

They are also among the first to perform clinical trials in the arena of ADHD and depression. Two global studies under the rubric International Studies to Predict Optimized Treatment Response (iSPOT) aim to identify biomarkers and develop companion diagnostics for these two areas.

CogniFit provides scientific assessments and brain training programs directly to consumers as well as to professionals in the area of cognition.

Both markets are still in their infancy. CogniFit is available in more than 13 languages and offers more than 50 different assessments and training tasks to measure and train this large number of cognitive abilities.

CogniFit dynamically personalizes the training programs it offers to its users on more than 25 key cognitive skills, such as working memory, eye-hand coordination, concentration, and response time.

With more than 150 cognitive variables tracking each training session and millions of data points for variables such as demographics, countries, skills and training programs, CogniFit is building a reliable and exhaustive cognitive database that is being used to develop new training regimens to further study the impact of mental health diseases on cognition and improve the development of preventive solutions for brain health.

Akili Interactive is tackling both game play and big data to build the first therapeutic mobile video games, using technology licensed from neuroscientist Adam Gazzaley at UCSF. A Nature publication shows how gaming can improve cognitive skills.

In the latest version of NeuroRacer, a 3D video game, players choose avatars that travel down a waterway. The game’s back end uses an adaptive algorithm based upon real-time performance metrics to create a real-time learning experience optimized for each player. Engaging individual learning styles and using big data to customize the learning experience, could increase engagement and exercise personal multi-tasking skills.”

To read the full article click here;

http://strata.oreilly.com/2014/01/using-big-data-and-game-play-to-improve-mental-fitness.html

Video games help people with dyslexia

Video games with lots of action might be useful for helping people with dyslexia train the brain's attention system.

Linda Poon, of National Public Radio, writes that;

Video games with lots of action might be useful for helping people with dyslexia train the brain’s attention system.

Most parents prefer that their children pick up a book rather than a game controller. But for kids with dyslexia, action video games may be just what the doctor ordered.

Dyslexia is one of the most common learning disabilities, affecting an estimated 5 to 10 percent of the world’s population. Many approaches to help struggling readers focus on words and phonetics, but researchers at Oxford University say dyslexia is more of an attention issue.

So programs should emphasize training the brain’s attention system, they say, something that video games do. “These video games require you to respond very quickly, to shift attention to one part of the screen to another,” says Vanessa Harrar, an experimental psychologist and lead author of the study.

When people with dyslexia had to shift their attention between sight and sound, their reaction was delayed. And they had significantly more trouble shifting attention from visual to audio than the other way around.

“It’s not just shifting attention from one location to another, but we should also be training shifting attention from sound to visual stimuli and vice versa,” Harrar, who is dyslexic herself, tells Shots.

She adds that at least for some people, making the association between a word and how it sounds might be easier if they hear it first and then see the corresponding symbols.

Scientists today still don’t agree on what causes dyslexia, but one theory says it has something to do with a faulty nerve pathway from the eyes to the back of the brain that is responsible for guiding both visual and auditory attention. When this network malfunctions, people can’t properly combine what they hear and see for the brain to process the information.

To test this, researchers asked 17 people with dyslexia and 19 control participants to press a button as quickly as they could each time they heard a sound, saw a dim flash of patterns on the computer screen or experienced both together.

The results showed that the dyslexic group took longer than typical readers to respond when they had to alternate their attention between a sound and a flash. What really stunned researchers was that the group reacted much more slowly to a sound if it followed the flash.

“We were very surprised by this result, that there was sort of this asymmetry that only occurs in one direction,” Harrar says.

The study was published Feb. 13 in Current Biology,

One explanation for this may be what psychologists call visual capture, says Jeffrey Gilger, an expert in language and learning disabilities at the University of California, Merced.

“As human beings we prefer visual stimuli,” Gilger, who was not involved in the study, tells Shots. “When you’re trying to listen to someone on TV and the sound doesn’t match the mouth moving, it throws you off.

“You’re trying to get the sound to align with the vision, not the vision with the sound,” he adds.

Since this was an unexpected outcome, Harrar says more research is needed to see if the asymmetrical delay is true for all people with dyslexia, and if video games that require quick shifts of attention would be helpful in overcoming it.

While the study did not directly test the effect of video games, her suggestion echoes the results of a 2013 experiment done in Italy. That study found that dyslexic children showed improvements in reading speed and attention skills after having played video games with lots of action.

To read more of this article click here;

http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2014/02/13/276381632/heres-one-more-reason-to-play-video-games-beating-dyslexia

High school students learn programing and gaming

2-15 InnovationLab1.jpg    From left, Seth Baker and Alex Still play the “Parking” game using toy car parts on their controller Wednesday in the Innovation Lab at Madison Central High School.

Students from the Madison Central High School Innovation Lab write that;

“While gaming may not always be permitted at school, The Innovation Lab at Madison Central High School gives students the opportunity to learn computer programming, with gaming as the current focus.

During the first semester of the school year, students researched the different job opportunities the gaming industry has to offer and then took on various roles: game designer, game tester, programming and production.

Using a program called Scratch, developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, class members designed and created their own two-dimensional computer games.

The class is tackling the game-controller aspect of gaming using the MaKey MaKey “easy-to-use invention kit.” The kit includes seven alligator clips, six connector wires and one USB cable.

Teacher Alison Fox was awarded a $500 Bechtel-Parsons Grant, given to teachers at any grade level who plan on using new or interesting strategies with science, math, or technology in their classrooms.

The MaKey MaKey system allows the students to make most anything into a game controller. Students researched items that are conductive (aluminum foil, Play-Doh, people) and would complete the circuit and run the game.

Split into groups of two or three, students where given the task of making a new controller for the game assigned.

The “Piggy Push” online game was chosen for students Sarah Dalton, Dylan Ingram and Timothy Sharp. With the title “Piggy Push,” students used a controller made of a crate lined with aluminum foil and used a pig fashioned from Play-Doh as a handheld controller to move the pig in the game.

To make the controller function, students used a MaKey MaKey system inside of the crate and used alligator clips to connect the system to foil on the outside, with the foil serving as arrow keys. Both aluminum foil and Play-Doh are conductive materials.

A group consisting of Stuart Thorburn, Nick Warren and Ricky Campbell made a controller for the game “Flappy Bird,” where players try to keep the bird from touching the ground or the pipes.”

– See more at: http://www.richmondregister.com/education/x2039927148/Centrals-Innovation-Lab-teaches-programming-gaming#sthash.XlKeCHTo.dpuf

EdGamer discuss the Big History Project

From the Edgamer shownotes;

EdGamer 123: Thank You Mr. Peterson

This week on EdGamer 123 its holiday madness! We started with a schedule for the show but had a tough time keeping ourselves on task…you can tell break has started. Join us for some game club chat as well as news from Amazon and BigHistoryProject.com. Ho, ho, hold up, you don’t want to miss this episode. Tune-in and level-up!

Mr. Peterson at Game Club- Dixit and Wits and Wagers

The Big History Project

Small World 2

Amazon Digital Game Downloads

St. Jude

The 2013 Stitcher Awards

Show Host: Zack Gilbert

Show Contributor/Producer: Gerry James  

 To browse the EdGamer archives click here;

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

Play to Cure – Croud Crunching Data to Advance Cancer Research

From a press release from Cancer Research UK;

February 4, 2014

It’s been an ambitious and challenging project but the day to unveil it to the world has arrived.

We’re delighted today to launch Genes in Space – a unique and enjoyable game that you can download and play for free on your smart phone:

It’s a game, so first and foremost it’s fun to play – boring train journeys, queues for that gig or waiting for that friend who’s always late could be transformed into exhilarating space adventures.

But that’s not the exciting bit.

Well it is. But there’s more. Much more.

By downloading and playing this pioneering game, you will be taking part in research to help beat cancer. It might sound far-fetched, but it’s true.

We’ve been working with our scientists and gaming experts for months to build the game, which on the surface is a simple and entertaining caper through space. But underneath it’s a data crunching powerhouse that’s helping our scientists identify the DNA faults that could lead to cancer.

Here’s a little teaser of the game:

Element Alpha: real data

In the game, you take the helm of a spaceship to collect valuable and powerful ‘Element Alpha’. The stroke of genius is that in doing so you are actually helping our scientists to analyse piles of real life data.

That’s because the game is actually a fun interface to allow the public to assist our scientists in the serious business of spotting patterns in gigabytes of genetic information from thousands of tumours.

There’s lots more information about the fascinating science behind the game in this post. But in a nutshell, by finding the best route to pick up the most Element Alpha, you’re actually plotting a course through genuine ‘DNA microarray’ data.

Behind the scenes, the code of the game translates real microarray data like this…:

Microarray data

Microarray data

…into this:

Mapping a journey through space

Mapping a journey through space

No expertise required

The game’s ingenuity lies in its simplicity. Racking up the combined data crunching power of what we hope will be thousands of casual gamers will help our scientists spot the subtle patterns and peaks and troughs in the data, which correspond to DNA faults.

The power of Element Alpha is of course completely fictional, but the power of the data it represents could be exceptional. Our scientists will be trawling through the results as they come in and looking for crucial clues in the quest for new cancer treatments.

So what are you waiting for? Start collecting mysterious Element Alpha to help us solve the mystery of cancer sooner.

Download the game