When it comes to learning, interactivity really does matter. Not only did researchers find that students learned significantly more with the interactive game than with pencil and paper methods, they also found that they learned more than with a game which was less interactive.
From the abstract of the research;
“Knowledge associated with energy conservation is important but it may appear difficult and monotonous to students due to the presence of jargon and complex scientific concepts. This research created two digital question-and-answer games and compared them with a traditional paper-and-pencil learning method to explore how different learning approaches would affect college students’ learning for knowledge of energy conservation. This research conducted a between-subject experiment with random assignment to examine short-term effects of the three different learning methods on motivation, attention, and learning outcomes. The results revealed that participants who played the digital game equipped with more cartoon-style, animated, and interactive features scored significantly higher than the lower-complexity digital game group as well as the traditional paper-and-pencil group on the learning outcome tests. Moreover, in contrast to many previous studies, use of these digital games was not found to affect learning motivation and attention.”
Chen, S. W., Yang, C. H., Huang, K. S., & Fu, S. L. (2017). Digital games for learning energy conservation: A study of impacts on motivation, attention, and learning outcomes. Innovations in Education and Teaching International, 1-11.
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…:
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.
“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.”
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;
Matt Benoit of Washington State University, writes that Senate Bill 6104 would;
“…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.”
SENATE BILL REPORT
SB 6104As of January 22, 2014Title
: An act relating to the interactive gaming in schools public-private partnership.
: Establishing the interactive gaming in schools public-private partnership.
: Senators McAuliffe, Litzow, Hargrove, Hill, Billig, Fraser and Brown.
Committee Activity: Early Learning & K-12Education: 1/22/14.
SENATE COMMITTEE ON EARLY LEARNING & K-12 EDUCATION
: Eric Wolf (786-7405)
: 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
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.
Committee/Commission/Task Force Created
: 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.
: PRO: Senator McAuliffe, prime sponsor; Matthew Hooper, attorney.
Senate Bill Report
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New Research-Based White Paper Published on Serious Learning Games Game On! Learning, the thought leader in serious learning games for the corporate learning market, has just published a new white paper on serious learning games for the corporate training market called “What Makes Serious Games Effective? — 5 Questions to Ask When Evaluating Serious Games in the Workplace”. Share on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on LinkedInEmail a friend Serious Learning Games White Paper Research on serious games suggests improved job skills can be a result of integrating a serious game into your training program. But the same research shows that effective serious games are difficult to design, and they are rare. Gainesville, Florida (PRWEB) December 17, 2013 Game On! Learning, the thought leader in serious learning games for the corporate learning market, has just published a new white paper on serious learning games for the corporate training market called “What Makes Serious Games Effective? — 5 Questions to Ask When Evaluating Serious Games in the Workplace”. The white paper is authored by Dr. Rob Foshay, a principal of The Foshay Group, a consulting firm specializing in high-value strategies for e-learning product architectures, training, and certification. He is a practice leader for The Institute for Performance Improvement, and a Certified Performance Technologist. He is also a Fellow of the International Board of Standards for Training, Performance and Instruction. “Many organizations are currently investigating and implementing learning games”, said Bryan Austin, Game On! Learning’s chief game changer. “ Most are doing so to address the increasing lack of learner engagement of traditional elearning. What those implementing learning games are finding, though, is that they are not just engaging, but that well-designed learning games more effectively anchor knowledge and increase skill proficiency than their “traditional” classroom and elearning counterparts.” Many of corporate learners like games, and play them enthusiastically when at home. For corporate learning professionals, though, the interest is in serious games: those games that are designed to have learning outcomes relevant to the job. “What you really want to know is whether the game is effective in improving job skills, not game skills”, adds Austin. “Research on serious games suggests improved job skills can be a result of integrating a serious game into your training program. But the same research shows that effective serious games are difficult to design, and they are rare.” This research-based white paper provides key elements to look for in an effective serious game. This complementary white paper can be downloaded by clicking here. About Game On! Learning Game On! Learning provides inspired online game based learning solutions that create unmatched learner engagement and produce learners who will immediately and confidently apply their newly acquired skills on-the-job. Our revolutionary “serious games” feature a highly interactive, animated video game design, fun competition versus colleagues, learner-individualized feedback, and real world learning scenarios. An extraordinarily high degree of in-course skill practice helps ramp up employee performance, increase productivity, and move your organization more rapidly forward. We deliver lasting results in an unforgettable learning experience. It’s the most exciting thing happening in organizational learning today! We help you Get Your Game On!
“The re-purposing of video games as learning tools continues to gather pace with the recent release of high-profile educational incarnations of games like SimCity and Minecraft.
Different educational games have their own different origins, and not all of them are created equal. Educational or not, schools and other institutions are being asked to place their trust in something they have historically banned or ignored.
So which games should educators invest their time and trust in?
Just games or real learning?
In the past, educational games have always differentiated themselves from commercial games – branding themselves as serious – and avoiding double-positioning of educational and commercial entertainment.
But now commercial game developers have have begun “edu-versioning” their best-selling entertainment titles, and extending sales through educational editions.
Video games are big business. It’s difficult to know exactly how big the industry is, but the Interactive Games and Entertainment Association reported retail sales for 2012 were A$1.161 billion, not including downloaded games and other downloadable content.
Interest in the potential of video games accelerated in 2008, after the Pew Research Centre reported “97% of US teens play video games.” Talk of the educational potential of games also became a popular topic for TED Talks. Jane McGonigals “Gaming can make the world better” or Gabe Zimmerman’s “How games make kids smarter” claimed games are not only educational but transformative ways to learn.
Educational video games are still mainly produced by academic institutions or by commercial developers.
Institutions have begun working with independent developers – for example, Filament Games and E-Line Media – to translate academic theories and research into games. These are usually designed for student use at school.
Online community projects – like Minecraft in Schools – editable by academics and others are in a similar category. These involve using an existing framework and adapting them to include lesson ideas and assessment tools.
Often these types of games include “teacher only” powers to enforce particular learning styles or behaviours on students. And they sit outside of institutional or commercial control, normally used independently by teachers.
Games described as educational are also sold through online stores like Apples iTunes or Google Play. Though prolific in number, they appear devoid of alignment with educational institutions and are generally cheap or free forms of entertainment.
The newest form of edu-game are well-funded commercial games retooled for education markets. There are several examples such as Electronic Arts’ (EA) The Sims, Mojang’s Minecraft and Valve’s Portal.
Portal, rebranded TeachWithPortals, attempts to combine Valve’s seminal game with school science problems. Here, non-gaming teachers can find resources for easier classroom implementation than in non-commercial open software games, which require some assumed knowledge.
But this approach is frequently criticised for fundamentally changing the nature of the game. While keeping familiar aesthetics, these adaptations shift the gaming environment to one teachers feel more comfortable with.
What is a good educational game?
Educational games are often sold as a “better than nothing” proposition, which demotivates some students, and does little to build a new understanding with educators about the extent new media like video games can play in education.
They also allow the companies developing these games to find a new educational distribution channel. For schools, this new era of educational games is a confusing mix of popular culture, social media’s ascendancy, new channels of communication, and a growing research base.
Numerous studies have shown teachers must feel the digital technologies are competent and reliable – in essence, trust these technologies – in order to use them with students.
To establish which game-titles are better than others requires teachers to work out how learning occurs in games – empowering students to exchange ideas rather than continue to see the games as a new way of delivering the same teacher-dominated pedagogy.
Good educational games will provide an enriched, personalised learning experience, the ability for the teacher to alter the goals, support for both formal and informal learning opportunities and the potential for social networking.
“Educational games may be able to help circumvent major problems plaguing classrooms by placing students in a frame of mind that is conducive to learning rather than worrying about how smart they look,” added co-lead author Paul O’Keefe, an NYU postdoctoral fellow at the time of the study.
The researchers focused on how students’ motivation to learn, as well as their interest and performance in math, was affected by playing a math video game either individually, competitively, or collaboratively.
Researchers had middle-school students play the video game FactorReactor, which is designed to build math skills through problem solving and therefore serves as diagnostic for learning.”