Blog Archives

My Presentation at The California Educational Research Association

cera-badge            I presented my research on Higher Order Thinking Skills in 3 iPad Games, at the California Educational Research Association in Sacramento California.  My room was full of people who asked many thoughtful questions about games and learning.

FastForward Radio Explores Games and Learning

This is one of my favorite podcast related to the future and technology.  I was so happy to hear them talk about games and learning.

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/worldtransformed/2013/09/05/games-conquer-the-universe

From the FastForward Radio show notes;

What’s more fun than playing games?

One possible answer: systems that let you build your own games! Especially if you have to become something of a hacker to get the games going.

How about building your own computer for playing games?

There’s an interesting connection between gaming, education, and learning to build one’s own technology. What does this connection have to say about the future of work (and play)?

Tune in to explore.

A Learning Game to Combat Drugs, Alcohol, and Obesity

Clare Weir writes;

“A digital entrepreneur is in talks with educational authorities in the USA to sell his computer game which educates children on the dangers of drugs, alcohol and obesity.

Newcastle man Aaron Gibson (21) set up his games design company ‘YumPod Technologies’ at 18 and invented ‘You vs The World’ for children and teenagers.

An accompanying website is designed to fit into the school curriculum, and has already been accepted into over 300 schools in England, Scotland and Wales, with plans afoot to roll the game out in Northern Ireland schools shortly.”

To read the full article click here;

http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/business/news/kids-drug-education-game-to-hit-us-market-30001176.html

Video games help people with dyslexia

Video games with lots of action might be useful for helping people with dyslexia train the brain's attention system.

Linda Poon, of National Public Radio, writes that;

Video games with lots of action might be useful for helping people with dyslexia train the brain’s attention system.

Most parents prefer that their children pick up a book rather than a game controller. But for kids with dyslexia, action video games may be just what the doctor ordered.

Dyslexia is one of the most common learning disabilities, affecting an estimated 5 to 10 percent of the world’s population. Many approaches to help struggling readers focus on words and phonetics, but researchers at Oxford University say dyslexia is more of an attention issue.

So programs should emphasize training the brain’s attention system, they say, something that video games do. “These video games require you to respond very quickly, to shift attention to one part of the screen to another,” says Vanessa Harrar, an experimental psychologist and lead author of the study.

When people with dyslexia had to shift their attention between sight and sound, their reaction was delayed. And they had significantly more trouble shifting attention from visual to audio than the other way around.

“It’s not just shifting attention from one location to another, but we should also be training shifting attention from sound to visual stimuli and vice versa,” Harrar, who is dyslexic herself, tells Shots.

She adds that at least for some people, making the association between a word and how it sounds might be easier if they hear it first and then see the corresponding symbols.

Scientists today still don’t agree on what causes dyslexia, but one theory says it has something to do with a faulty nerve pathway from the eyes to the back of the brain that is responsible for guiding both visual and auditory attention. When this network malfunctions, people can’t properly combine what they hear and see for the brain to process the information.

To test this, researchers asked 17 people with dyslexia and 19 control participants to press a button as quickly as they could each time they heard a sound, saw a dim flash of patterns on the computer screen or experienced both together.

The results showed that the dyslexic group took longer than typical readers to respond when they had to alternate their attention between a sound and a flash. What really stunned researchers was that the group reacted much more slowly to a sound if it followed the flash.

“We were very surprised by this result, that there was sort of this asymmetry that only occurs in one direction,” Harrar says.

The study was published Feb. 13 in Current Biology,

One explanation for this may be what psychologists call visual capture, says Jeffrey Gilger, an expert in language and learning disabilities at the University of California, Merced.

“As human beings we prefer visual stimuli,” Gilger, who was not involved in the study, tells Shots. “When you’re trying to listen to someone on TV and the sound doesn’t match the mouth moving, it throws you off.

“You’re trying to get the sound to align with the vision, not the vision with the sound,” he adds.

Since this was an unexpected outcome, Harrar says more research is needed to see if the asymmetrical delay is true for all people with dyslexia, and if video games that require quick shifts of attention would be helpful in overcoming it.

While the study did not directly test the effect of video games, her suggestion echoes the results of a 2013 experiment done in Italy. That study found that dyslexic children showed improvements in reading speed and attention skills after having played video games with lots of action.

To read more of this article click here;

http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2014/02/13/276381632/heres-one-more-reason-to-play-video-games-beating-dyslexia

EdGamer Discuss the Playful Learning Summit

Edgamer-280

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!

Playful Learning in Whitewater

SimCity in the Classroom

Mathbreakers

Show Host: Zack Gilbert

Show Contributor/Producer: Gerry James

To browse the EdGamer archives click here;

http://edreach.us/channel/edgamer/#

Gates Foundation Gives Millions for Game Based Learning

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.

Millions of students learn to program in Java while playing a game

Kids playing Hour of Code

“In one week last week, Code.org’s Hour of Code reached more than 15 million students in 170 countries. Every major tech company promoted it, celebrities talked about it, and even the US President helped get the word out in their kickoff video. And shooting past Code.org’s crazy target of ten million players, kids are still continuing to play this week, with 600 million lines of code written and one in five US schoolchildren participating (with six times as many girls playing last week than have ever taken a computer science class in the US). It spread to more students in seven days than the first seven months of Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, Instagram combined.

As one of Code.org’s partners, we at CodeCombat were both excited and hilariously unprepared to help teach such a sizable swarm of students to defeat the 44 ogres in our beginner campaign. Read on for what we learned from the onslaught of child programmers, including how obsessed kids are with games, how American students are the best trolls and the worst programmers, just how badly a user experience test can go, and the unfortunate difference between reddit traffic and school traffic.”

To read the full article click here;

http://sett.com/codecombat/180000-child-programmers-versus-44-ogres

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

Girls, Games, and STEM Education – Yes they all go together!

600girlsgames

For years researchers have noticed that few women are choosing careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math).  To address this problem, “A group of industry and aca­d­emic leaders gath­ered at Northeastern’s Seattle campus with what just might be a solu­tion to that problem: video games.”

The group is called; “Girls GAMES, short for Girls Advancing in Math, Engi­neering, and Sci­ence, is a new col­lab­o­ra­tion between uni­ver­sity part­ners and gaming com­pa­nies in Seattle aimed at pro­moting STEM careers for women through the devel­op­ment of edu­ca­tional games. Though the main event is being held in Seattle … We know games can engage kids to learn, so let’s use games for real learning, and let’s use games to advance girls’ learning, interest, and aspi­ra­tions in STEM,” said Tayloe Wash­burn, dean and CEO of Northeastern’s grad­uate campus in Seattle.”

New research on game-based learning shows that games can impact positively on problem solving skills, motivation and engagement.

In a new study, conducted by The National Foundation for Educational Research in England and Wales (NFER) found that game-based learning shows that “games can impact positively on problem solving skills, motivation and engagement.” The researchers from (NFER) write that;

“The role of video games in teaching and learning is a source of debate among many educators, researchers and in the popular press. Detractors and advocates have been discussing the influences and the potentials of video games for quite some time, and we feel that sound evidence and informed advice on these topics is still very much needed. Against this background, Futurelab at NFER felt that it was timely to provide practitioners, industry and researchers with an up-to-date account of what the evidence tells us about game-based learning and its potential impact on learning and teaching. The review aims to bridge academic and non academic domains, to provide insights that will be of interest to educators, educational researchers, industry and others seeking to engage in a more thoughtful debate about the types of educational values that can be attached to gaming. In particular, we provide accessible advice for practitioners, in the belief that innovation in education is always underpinned by informed and critical teaching.

We carried out a rapid review of key literature to identify relevant theoretical contributions and evidence. This involved systematic searching and a consistent, best evidence, approach to the selection of the literature. We focused on a range of sources, including empirical, practice-based evidence and more speculative literature, published from 2006 onward.

The main findings are as follows:

  • The literature was split on the extent to which video games can impact upon overall academic performance.
  • The studies consistently found that video games can impact positively on problem solving skills, motivation and engagement. However, it was unclear whether this impact could be sustained over time.
  • Despite some promising results, the current literature does not evidence adequately the presumed link between motivation, attitude to learning and learning outcomes. Overall, the strength of the evidence was often affected by the research design or lack of information about the research design.”

Perrotta, C., Featherstone, G., Aston, H. and Houghton, E. (2013). Game-based Learning: Latest Evidence and Future Directions. Slough: NFER.

To a download a free copy of this research click here;

http://www.nfer.ac.uk/publications/GAME01