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.
“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.”
From a press release from Cancer Research UK;
February 4, 2014 Oliver Childs
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…:
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
Press Release: GlassLab Publishes Research on Game-based Assessment
For Immediate Release
February 6, 2014
Digital Games Can Improve Measurement of Student Learning With Continuous Assessment, According to New Research From GlassLab
New white paper offers framework for integrating game design and educational assessment
Redwood City, Calif. – February 6, 2013 — Researchers have figured out a new way to give teachers a dynamic portrait of a student’s learning in action, using video games. In a white paper released today by Institute of Play project GlassLab (the Games, Learning and Assessment Lab), a team of assessment data scientists, learning designers and game developers describe a multidisciplinary approach to designing a new type of classroom game — a game-based assessment. Game-based assessments can provide a rich understanding of the different factors that affect educational achievement and predict how a student’s performance might change over time.
The white paper, “Psychometric Considerations in Game-Based Assessment,” answers the provocative questions that stand in the way of realizing the full potential of games to transform learning and assessment: How can scientists make sense of the endless stream of data generated by a digital game — the entire spectrum from wayward mouse clicks to strategic choices in gameplay? How can psychometric data help game designers build better challenges to improve learning outcomes? And how can experts in diverse fields come together to build and test new game-based assessments?
“Game-based assessments may hold the promise of a richer, multi-dimensional portrait of student learning, but they also present a new frontier in assessment design, ripe with challenges and opportunities for psychometricians and game designers to explore collaboratively,” says co-author Robert Mislevy, a psychometrics consultant for GlassLab, pioneer of evidence-centered assessment design, and Frederic M. Lord Chair in Measurement and Statistics at ETS. “This paper provides a framework for the continued exploration of this new frontier and proposes a design approach for developing and testing new game-based assessments.”
“Psychometric Considerations in Game-Based Assessment” is the first publication from GlassLab, and contains findings from the development of the Lab’s first game-based assessment product, SimCityEDU: Pollution Challenge!, which launched in November 2013. GlassLab’s research and development efforts are made possible by the generous support of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
A project of the nonprofit Institute of Play, GlassLab is an interdisciplinary partnership between leaders in commercial games and experts in learning and assessment to develop next-generation educational games. Co-authors of “Psychometric Considerations in Game-Based Assessment” include researchers from Institute of Play, Educational Testing Service, Electronic Arts, and Pearson’s Center for Digital Data, Analytics and Adaptive Learning.
The 160-page white paper is available for free download today from Institute of Play. To download the full white paper and Executive Summary as a PDF e-book, or to explore print-on-demand options, please visit http://bit.ly/glasslab-research.
The next white paper from GlassLab, scheduled for publication in Fall/Winter 2014, will detail GlassLab’s Evidence-Centered Game Design process for developing game-based assessments.
Tony Wan, of EdSurge, writes;
“On February 10, the Joan Ganz Cooney Center held a launch party at Zynga’s headquarters in San Francisco for gamesandlearning.org, a website devoted to bringing together the latest in industry news, game-based learning (GBL) research, commentaries from developers, market trends and funding opportunities.
The website is overseen by the Games and Learning Publishing Council, chaired by Milton Chen, a senior fellow at Edutopia, and whose members include thought leaders across the academia, K-12, venture capital, industry and gaming industries. The multi-disciplinary composition, says the site’s editorial director (and former journalist), Lee Banville, helps ensure that the site can be an “honest broker of information” about the industry.
“Game-based learning is no longer on the fringe in conversations about education,” Banville tells EdSurge. “And having all of these different sectors represented will make it difficult for the industry to get too ‘pie in the sky’ about the market realities and how games will actually work in the classroom.”
To read the full article by Tony Wan click here;
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;
From the EdGamer show notes –
EdGamer 121: Playful Learning, SimCity, Mathbreakers, and Pension Theft!
The title says it all! This week on EdGamer 121 we discuss the Playful Learning Summit in Whitewater, SimCity is trying to get into the classroom, Mathbreakers looks like a promising math game, and a little side of pension theft just for holiday spirit! Its another can’t miss episode of EdGamer. Tune-in and level-up!
Show Host: Zack Gilbert
Show Contributor/Producer: Gerry James
To browse the EdGamer archives click here;
“GraphoGame™ is a child-friendly computer game that helps children to learn to read in their local language with the help of technology and know how of the most well informed experts of reading acquisition in the world.
With the game children learn the basic letters and their sounds. Through a series of levels, gradually, the child is able to construct these letters into words. Importantly, the game incorporates a dynamic element in that it also adapts to the childs own level of ability and sets further levels in accordance with this ability.’
GraphoGame was developed in Finland in the University of Jyväskylä in collaboration with the Niilo Mäki Institute.” – From the GraphoGame website, to read more click here; http://info.graphogame.com/.
Researcher Paul Howard-Jones discussed GraphoGame in the context of Neuroscience;
“Such studies have helped raise awareness of the general importance of phonological decoding for reading acquisition and contributed to the prevalent adoption of “phonics” approaches to reading. They have also helped prompt the development of technology-based reading resources combining neuroscience and educational understanding. One example is Graphogame -a non-commercial system developed at the University of Jyväskylä (Finland) which introduces the association of graphemes and phonemes to young children according to the frequency and consistency of a grapheme in a given language. In Graphogame, online algorithms analyze a child’s performance and rewrite lesson plans ‘on the fly’ depending on the specific confusions shown by the learner. The difficulty of the content is adjusted so that the challenge matches the learner’s ability. Using fMRI and EEG together (allowing both good spatial and temporal resolution in measurements), it has been shown that practice with the game can initiate print-sensitive activation in regions that later become critical for mature reading – the so-called ‘visual word-form system’” (p. 17).
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,
Press Release from The Gates Foundation;
SEATTLE–The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation today announced a suite of investments, totaling more than $20 million, focused on identifying and expanding promising cutting-edge learning resources that support teachers and students and bring innovative new instructional approaches into America’s classrooms. These investments support the development of game-based learning applications; math, English language arts and science curricula built in to digital formats; learning through social networking platforms; and embedded assessments through a real-time and engaging environment of experiences and journeys. All these promising resources are aligned to the Common Core State Standards, which are college- and career-ready standards being implemented in more than 40 states.
The Pearson Foundation, one of the major partners in this work, today is also announcing the development of its complete digital curriculum to support the standards. The foundation is pleased to work with Pearson Foundation by providing research and $3 million in funding to help make these tools widely available. In addition to the Pearson Foundation, the foundation is also partnering with Educurious Partners, Florida Virtual School, Institute of Play, Reasoning Mind, Quest Atlantis, Digital Youth Network and EDUCAUSE to develop and promote new applications for learning and assessments aligned to the Common Core State Standards.
“Teachers are telling us what they want, and we are listening,” said Vicki L. Phillips, Director of Education, College Ready, at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “We believe these exciting world-class tools have the potential to fundamentally change the way students and teachers interact in the classroom, and ultimately, how education works in America.”
A significant part of these investments announced today include supporting work to build a complete system of digital courses aligned to the Common Core State Standards. The Pearson Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Pearson, the leading learning company, is developing 24 online math and English language arts courses to help teachers and principals implement the standards. These courses will be delivered through a combination of technologies, including video, interactive software, games, social media, and print. Funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will support the development of this robust system of courses, including four— two in math and two in English language arts—to be available at no cost on an open platform for schools.
In addition, a $2 million grant to Educurious Partners will help develop high school courses in biology, freshman literature and Algebra I using a project-based learning design and incorporating a social network Internet application. These include two literacy-based and two math-based courses that are contextualized within disciplines, such as engineering or writing in the natural sciences.
The foundation’s $742,996 investment in Reasoning Mind which offers teacher professional development and online elementary math curricula that build algebraic thinking, will pilot a program that makes a single effective math teacher available across multiple classrooms. If successful, one Reasoning Mind-trained teacher can affect the math scores and proficiency of 250 students using the program in different grades at several schools. A Reasoning Mind classroom is a hybrid of online and face-to-face instruction, where the teacher gives each child individual help and attention.
“Technology has advanced how we do so many things today,” added Phillips. “Yet, instead of transforming our schools, technology has generally been placed on top of antiquated models. These new cutting-edge applications have the potential to inspire students and engage them in the way they naturally learn, while giving teachers the flexibility to be creative in their craft and customize tools to their students’ needs.”
The foundation is also investing in several game-based learning tools:
- $2.6 million for iRemix, which is being developed by Digital Youth Network. It will be a set of 20 literacy-based trajectories that allow students to earn badges and move from novice to expert in areas like creative writing.
- $2.5 million to Institute of Play will build a set of game-based pedagogical tools and game-design curricula that can be used within both formal and informal learning contexts.
- $2.6 million to Quest Atlantis is creating video games that build proficiency in math, literacy and science.
All these applications will support the Common Core State Standards.
In addition, a $2 million grant to Educurious Partners will help develop high school courses in biology, freshman literature, and Algebra I through a social network Internet application. The application will allow students and teachers to collaborate with a variety of experts who are working in professional fields that are relevant to what the students are learning in the courses. These courses will also support the Common Core State Standards.
Finally, in June, Next Generation Learning Challenges will award up to $10 million in competitive grants to support promising technology-enabled programs built around embedded assessments that can help students master 7th, 8th, and 9th-grade content and competencies aligned with the Common Core State Standards. Embedded assessments are a way of testing a student’s knowledge in real-time through program such as online math courses that help students self-pace their learning, game-based learning environments, and literacy instruction delivered through mobile phones. While learning in a digital environment that uses embedded assessments, students demonstrate mastery of a subject in order to progress to the next level of a game, course, or application. Next Generation Learning Challenges is a grant competition and community aimed at identifying and expanding promising technologies that can help improve education across the K-12 and postsecondary spectrum. It is led by EDUCAUSE and community partners with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.
For more information about the foundation’s investments to advance promising technologies in education, please visit www.gatesfoundation.org\education.
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;