Category Archives: games and assessment

“Stealthy Assessment” of Learning through Games

Sixth grader Jackie Blumhoefer, middle, reacts as she takes over first place during a game of SimCityEDU: Pollution Challenge at Valleyview Middle School in Denville, N.J.
—Emile Wamsteker for Education Week

“SimCityEDU: Pollution Challenge, an educational version of the popular city-building video game, is a known quantity in a fresh wave of serious learning games that bridge the gap between instruction and assessment.

Released last November, the game—in which students acting as mayors must balance the growth of their cities with environmental impacts—tracks, analyzes, and feeds back to teachers through dashboards more than 3,000 different data points showing how well each student understands systems thinking.

“If a student builds one bus stop, then waits before strategically building other bus stops, he has an eye for problem-solving that I would not have gotten with a multiple-choice or written test,” said Matt Farber, a social studies teacher who beta-tested SimCityEDU with 6th graders at the 650-student Valleyview Middle School in Denville, N.J. “We used to try formal assessments every day, and then do a summative assessment at the end of a unit every two weeks and pretty much move on, but you don’t get a lot of reflection with that. Now, there’s iteration, which I hadn’t planned on. Students get competitive for their personal best.”That is the double benefit of games with embedded assessments, say those who develop and use them. They not only provide a deeper insight into understanding, allowing educators to more quickly identify students’ strengths and weaknesses, but they also thwart a growing disengagement from traditional forms of evaluation. Teachers commonly report that games with embedded assessments encourage students to look at failure as opportunity—a way of thinking that will serve them well as they grow up.

Expect to see more assessment-embedded video games in classrooms soon, experts predict.

GlassLab, a digital learning game-development studio based in Redwood City, Calif., and the creator of SimCityEDU, plans to develop five more serious learning games with embedded assessments over the next three years with grant money from the Bill & Melinda Gates and John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur foundations. “We’re on track, but frankly, we don’t think that’s enough,” said Jessica Lindl, the general manager of GlassLab, a project of the New York City-based nonprofit Institute of Play. “We want to empower and accelerate the entire market. At the end of our grant, we don’t want just six games. We want thousands of other games to be created.”

To read the full article by  Robin L. Flanigan, click here;

http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2014/03/13/25games.h33.html

Panel Discusses Games and Assessment at SXSWedu

 Lee Banville writes;
SXSWEdu panel

Chris Curran to developers seeking funding: “Even if it is small-scale and anecdotal, you should have evidence of efficacy.”

On Tuesday, March 4, Lee Banville moderated “Lost in Translation: Applying the Latest Research” at SXSWEdu with Bjorn Jeffery (Toca Boca), Chris Curran (Education Growth Partners), and Sujata Bhatt (The Incubator School). This post originally appeared in gamesandlearning.org. There are research reports that highlight the efficacy of games as assessment tools, studies that show certain games can help students suffering from dyslexia and market analyses of the projected overseas learning games market. But how much of this research actually makes it into games you find in the App Store remains a mystery.

Representatives of three different sectors – game developers, investors and teachers – weighed in on the matter at a session Tuesday at SXSWedu and their answers raised as many questions as they likely answered.

The designer dilemma
Björn Jeffrey, the CEO of youth app powerhouse Toca Boca, stressed that one of the major problems is that “the bar is extremely low” to be considered an educational app in the App Store and so discerning between claims and actual educational value is impossible.

“There is no way to gauge if it is really educational,” he said, adding that many apps promote what he called “faux assessment.”

But the solution, Jeffrey said, is not as easy to identify.

He said he hoped a third party rating firm could offer parents, teachers and others a better sense to what products actually have some research and evidence behind them.

The danger, he said, is without more efforts to create a qualitative measure the battle for the trust of parents may be lost.

bjeffery_quote

The investor’s questions
For those deciding whether to sink their money into a given educational technology, the question of research is often answered by the simple question: how much money is at risk?

Chris Curran, managing partner at Education Growth Advisors, stressed that private equity firms that are considering a major investment will scour thousands of pages of reports or conduct their own research, “to identify every possible risk or opportunity before they make the investment” of what could be tens of millions of dollars.”

To read the full article by Lee Banville click here;

http://www.joanganzcooneycenter.org/2014/03/05/panel-highlights-uneasy-relationship-between-learning-games-research/