EdGamer 122: TeacherCraft with Seann Dikkers
This week on EdGamer 122, we meet up with Dr. Seann Dikkers is an assistant professor in the Educational Technology division of the Patton College of Education at Ohio University. Formerly Dr. Dikkers served fourteen years as a middle school teacher, high school principal, and education consultant. Now he researches, writes, and shares the usefulness of digital media for teaching and learning as the founder and director of Gaming Matter. His books, Real-Time Research,Mobile Media Learning, and the forthcoming TeacherCraft: Using Minecraft in the Classroom are helping teachers integrate innovative technology into classroom learning. This is another can’t miss episode of EdGamer. Tune-in and level-up!
Show Host: Zack Gilbert
Show Guest: Seann Dikkers
To find the archive of EdGammer click here;
Paul Howard-Jones, of Bristol University, addresses the topic of Learning Games and “…using uncertain reward within computer games to make learning engaging. There is a clear theoretical basis and laboratory-based evidence for a classroom-based approach and so me exploratory research in classrooms that may be helpful in informing pedagogy, but evidence of impact on improved engagement and enhanced academic achievement is limited to young adults” (p.5).
He goes on to write that;
“Mental rotation skills are strong predictors of achievement in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects and results from a single study show that improving mental rotation does lead to improvement in attainment. However, this has only been tested with undergraduate students. Another way of improving these skills might be through video games” (p.6).
Howard-Jones adds that;
“Popular games provide rapid schedules of uncertain reward that stimulate the brain’s reward system. The brain’s reward response can positively influence the rate at which we learn. Beyond just the magnitude of the reward, a range of contextual factors influence this reward response” (p.11).
To read the full report by Paul Howard-Jones,
Neuroscience and Education: A Review of Educational Interventions and Approaches Informed by Neuroscience Full Report and Executive Summary,
Allie Bidwell, 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 Allie Bidwell, of US News, click here;
Annie Murphy Paul 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.
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 Annie Murphy Paul click here;
Here is a great video/lesson on the educational power of digital games and how using the principles of good game design teachers can improve their instruction.
The introduction is kind of slow – she starts with a survey – but, be patient (or skip ahead 1 to 2 minutes) and your will learn about the power of games for learning.
- From Angry Birds to Minecraft – What games teach us about learning – an #iste13 session (murcha.wordpress.com)
- Five Reasons Why You Should Play Minecraft with Your Child (closefamilies.wordpress.com)
Doug Adams provides good observations and great quotes on video games and Higher Order Thinking Skills.
To watch the slide presentation click here;
Leila Meyer writes that;
“The United States Department of Education (ED) has overwhelmingly favored educational gaming in its annual Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) contract awards. This year, 12 of the 20 awards went to educational game and game-related projects.
According to an ED blog post, the fact that so many of this year’s SBIR award recipients are in the field of educational gaming reflects the increasing use of games to motivate and engage students in the classroom and the growth in popularity of mobile devices, which provide an expanded market for educational games. The ED also references “a growing base of evidence indicating that games can be an important and effective component of our strategy to prepare a highly skilled 21st century American workforce.”
Many of this year’s SBIR games winners feature adaptive technology that automatically adjusts difficulty based on the player’s ability, story-based narratives, rewards and competition, an instructional component, and a teacher dashboard that provides teachers with formative assessment results.
The SBIR contract awards provide up to $1.05 million of funding to small businesses that are conducting research and development on commercially viable educational or assistive technology, science, or engineering projects. The SBIR program is managed by the Institute of Education Sciences (IES), the research division of the ED.”
To read more click here;
NEWCASTLE, England, July 16, 2012 /PRNewswire/ —
An NHS mechanical hoist is one of the first pieces of medical machinery to have its traditional training manual converted into an immersive 3D smartphone training App. The change is part of an effort to improve the performance levels of staff by creating more engaging, mobile training games instead of textbooks.
A mechanical hoist widely used throughout the NHS to help lift disabled children onto their beds is the latest piece of medical machinery to undergo a major training operation. Great Ormond Street Hospital Online Learning & Development (GOLD) commissioned award-winning serious game developer, Caspian Learning, to help with the innovative project.
GOLD’s aim was to create a more engaging type of hoist operation training that could potentially replace existing textbook training. The new project has seen Caspian Learning successfully convert the contents of a Mechanical Hoist Operation Manual into an interactive 3D computer simulation.
The simulation in its new form can be played anywhere in the world via the internet or downloaded as an app for smartphones. A free demo of the mechanical hoist safety simulation is available to download from the Google Play Marketplace.
Major benefits of the conversion include cost-saving without reduction in output, wider distribution possibilities and improved learner engagement.
Lee Rushworth, a Caspian Learning spokesperson said that “converting a textbook into an interactive, immersive 3D simulation that could be an app for an iPhone or Android device like GOLD have done here opens up so many new possibilities for us. For example, with this app, GOLD could potentially train an entire course remotely, saving an enormous amount of money on logistics in the process.”
“If this could be achieved with a mechanical safety hoist, imagine what else could benefit from this kind of ‘immersion conversion?'”
Caspian Learning developed the entire simulation in their Thinking Worlds software, which is available to download for free here.
About Caspian Learning
Caspian Learning are a multi award-winning serious games technology and design company. Formed in 2002, they are the developer of the acclaimed Thinking Worlds, whose globally unique technology allows instructional designers to create fully immersive 3D sims & games at costs previously restricted to 2D development. They are the global leader in the use of 3D games and simulations technology for performance improvement, having developed over 100 sims or games for clients all over the world including IBM, BBC, QinetiQ, Accenture, Volvo, the Ministry of Defence and the European Union among others.
SOURCE Caspian Learning