Blog Archives

California School Integrates Games and Learning

 

From PBS – News Hour

“At first glance, it might seem like the students who attend the private K-12 New Roads School in Santa Monica, California, are simply playing video and computer games all day. But these students are actually taking part in a new experiment in educational innovation. The NewsHour’s April Brown reports on one school’s approach to keep students engaged all day.”
PBS – News Hour
playmaker school
GameDesk

New Study Finds Clues on How to Keep Kids Engaged with Educational Games

“If you want teams of students to stay engaged while playing educational games, you might want them to switch seats pretty often. That’s one finding from a pilot study that evaluated how well middle school students were able to pay attention to game-based learning tasks.

Screenshot of the Engage game. Image credit: Kristy Boyer (Click to enlarge)

Screenshot of the Engage game. Image credit: Kristy Boyer (Click to enlarge)

Students at a Raleigh, N.C., middle school were divided into two-person teams for the pilot study. Researchers from North Carolina State University then had each team test gaming concepts for an educational game called “Engage,” which allows only one student at a time to control gameplay. The researchers were trying to determine how effective educational gaming tasks were at teaching computer science concepts, but were also monitoring how engaged each student was.

The researchers found that, for each team, the student actively performing the game tasks was much more likely to stay engaged – but that the second student would often lose focus.

“This is a very useful finding, because we can use it to improve game design to better keep the attention of the ‘navigator,’ or second student,” says Dr. Kristy Boyer, an assistant professor of computer science at NC State and co-author of a paper on the work. “For example, we could assign tasks to the navigator that are critical to team success and make sure that each student has an opportunity to take the controls during each gameplay session.”

The pilot study is part of a larger effort by the researchers to develop a game-based curriculum that teaches middle school students about computer science principles ranging from programming and big data to encryption and security.

“We are doing this work to help ensure that Engage is a fun, effective learning environment, and to ensure that we can keep kids focused on the game itself,” says Fernando Rodríguez, a Ph.D. student at NC State who is lead author of the paper. “Keeping kids’ attention is essential if we want them to learn.”

The paper, “Informing the Design of a Game-Based Learning Environment for Computer Science: A Pilot Study on Engagement and Collaborative Dialogue,” will be presented July 13 at the International Conference on Artificial  Intelligence in Education in Memphis, Tenn. The paper was co-authored by Natalie Kerby, an undergraduate at NC State. The research was supported by the National Science Foundation. The Engage development team also includes Dr. James Lester, professor of computer science at NC State; Dr. Eric Wiebe, a professor of science, technology, engineering and math education at NC State; and Dr. Bradford Mott, a research scientist at NC State.”

Story Source:

The above story is reprinted from materials provided by North Carolina State University.

Matt Shipman News Services | 919.515.6386

| Dr. Kristy Boyer | 919.513.0876

Fernando Rodríguez | 787.447.4976

The study abstract –

“Informing the Design of a Game-Based Learning Environment for Computer Science: A Pilot Study on Engagement and Collaborative Dialogue”

Authors: Fernando J. Rodríguez, Natalie D. Kerby and Kristy Elizabeth Boyer, North Carolina State University

Presented: July 13, International Conference on Artificial Intelligence in Education, Memphis, Tenn.

Abstract: Game-based learning environments hold great promise for supporting computer science learning. The ENGAGE project is building a game-based learning environment for middle school computational thinking and computer science principles, situated within mathematics and science curricula. This paper reports on a pilot study of the ENGAGE curriculum and gameplay elements, in which pairs of middle school students collaborated to solve game-based computer science problems. Their collaborative behaviors and dialogue were recorded with video cameras. The analysis reported here focuses on nonverbal indicators of disengagement during the collaborative problem solving, and explores the dialogue moves used by a more engaged learner to repair a partner’s disengagement. Finally, we discuss the implications of these findings for designing a game-based learning environment that supports collaboration for computer science.

Students Learn Coding Through Digital-Game Creation

Michelle R. Davis writes;

“South Hills High School teacher Saleta Thomas bills her class as a digital game-design program for students. But once students opt to take the class, they start learning computer coding through basic programs like Alice, then move on to Flash, JavaScript, ActionScript, and other coding languages.

Since the students in the Fort Worth, Texas, school are focused on digital-game creation, often they don’t even realize they’re learning computer coding, Thomas says. The “marketing” ploy of labeling the course digital-game design has had an impact, she says. Computer science wasn’t a popular course at the low-income school, which has struggled over the past few years to bring test scores up, but the digital-gaming elective has gone from 22 students its first year to 45 this school year, and 81 are projected for the next school year.

“If we get the hook into them through gaming, then when they go to college they can see there’s a whole lot more offered in computer science,” Thomas says. “If you major in computer science, your world is really open.”

To read more about coding, Code.org, Codecademy, MIT Media Lab, Scratch, CoderDojo, and Kodu 

click here;

http://www.edweek.org/dd/articles/2013/06/12/03game-coding.h06.html

“Start With Engagement”: Games Do This!

When I started watching this video, I did not totally support her premise, by the end, I did.  I encourage you to watch with an open mind and think about it.  Educators tend to start with what “WE” want learners to know.  Too often, “WE” are not as concerned with how they experience the process.  Games can not get away with such an oversight.  If they tried to ignore the player experience, in the same way that we educators – too often  – ignore the learner experience they would FAIL!  Perhaps this is part of the reason why so many teachers and schools fail their students.

Not only a day for mourning – Today is a day for action

                                                                               
On this site, I have never posted on a topic other than gaming and education, but today I need to make an exception to my rule.  Today at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown Connecticut, 27 people were massacred.  As a parent and former teacher in the United States, I mourn with the people of Newtown Connecticut and the rest of my fellow Americans.  But today is not just a day of mourning, today must be a day of action.  Today, I called my congressman to demand that he support legislation for gun control in the U.S. House of Representatives.  I encourage you to do the same.  It is time that we stand up to the National Rifle Association (NRA) and also encourage our representatives to stand up to the NRA and pass gun control before the next massacre.
The full title of this site is Gaming and education: engagement in learning.  How engaged in learning can students and teachers be while they live under the threat of another school massacre in the United States?  How many more massacres can parents endure before we pull our children from schools? 3,  2, 1, or is this the last U.S. massacre before mass action?
I encourage you to call and let your voice be heard, (it takes less than a minute).  Now is the appropriate time!
(202) 224-3121.
The United States Capitol switchboard