Games and Learning report that;
“A national survey of nearly 700 U.S. K-8 teachers conducted by the Joan Ganz Cooney Center and the Games and Learning Publishing Council reveals that almost three-quarters of K-8 teachers are using digital games for instruction. Four out of five of those teachers report that their students play games at school at least once a month.
In his introduction to the critical survey of classrooms GLPC Chair Milton Chen observed:
Two fundamental findings should capture the attention of all educators, developers, funders, and policymakers: a majority of teachers are using digital games in their classrooms, and games are increasingly played on mobile devices that travel with their students.
Level Up Learning: A National Survey of Teaching with Digital Games by Lori M. Takeuchi and Sarah Vaala reports that teachers who use games more often found greater improvement in their students’ learning across subject
areas. However, the study also reveals that only 42% of teachers say that games have improved students’ science learning (compared to 71% in math), despite research suggesting that games are well suited for teaching complex scientific concepts.
- Download the full report from the Games and Learning Publishing Council
- To read the full article from Games and Learning click here;
areas.”However, the study also reveals that only 42% of teachers say that games have improved students’ science learning (compared to 71% in math), despite research suggesting that games are well suited for teaching complex scientific concepts.
Chris Shores writes;
“Brian Westbrook was trying his best to keep up with the two dozen Greenfield Middle School students competing for his attention. Calls of “Mr. Westbrook, Mr. Westbrook” rang through the air like a broken record, from students hoping to get tips and tricks on the afternoon’s assignment: building a house.
At one end of the horseshoe-shaped computer lab, 12-year-old Virnalis Mejia focused on his screen as he assembled wooden planks on top of each other across his virtual property. Still unsure of what his final house would look like, Mejia was concentrating for now on building a solid foundation. To gather more wood, he wandered next door to his friend’s yard and went inside a communal storage shed they had built.
This is Minecraft: a Swedish computer game of creativity and survival, where players gather natural resources to build items for their lives. It’s a new option this year at the school’s required Expanded Learning Time after-school program and about 50 students in fourth-grade through seventh-grade will take the class each trimester.
Video games in school? Westbrook, a 25-year-old Greenfield High School alumni, has heard the skepticism before. Although he believes it’s important for children to participate in a range of activities, he’s not buying the argument that video games are a waste of time.
“I’ve always felt that there’s a kind of deeper educational aspect to games that a lot of people don’t realize,” he said. In Minecraft, creativity and logical reasoning can seemingly produce anything; some hardcore gamers across the country have used the game’s virtual minerals to create an electrical wiring system that can play Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” with the click of a button or calculate math functions on a giant computer that’s built completely in the digital world.
Since Swedish computer programmer Markus Persson developed Minecraft in 2009, the game has exploded in popularity across the world. After years of unofficial release, it was fully published in November 2011. When a Microsoft XBox 360 edition came out six months later, game developers sold four million copies in five months, according to Minecraft.net.
It wasn’t until this year, though, that Westbrook pitched the idea of an after-school class to Middle School Principal Gary Tashjian. It didn’t take much to convince the principal, who called the game “a big hit” for many of his students.
“More than just a mindless computer video game, it challenges students to be creative and build extensive communities,” said Tashjian, adding that the school tries to find a mix of extended learning time offerings for students. Students attend the enrichment classes twice a week for 80 minutes each day. On other days, the extra block is dedicated toward things like standardized test preparation and academic tutoring.
In the class, Westbrook uses “Minecraft EDU,” a modified version of the game built by the United States and Finland, which allows him as a teacher to change or block off parts of the digital world his students all share. It also gives the class access to another world full of historical monuments and artifacts — a chance to embed video games with history and geography lessons.
Westbrook said some of his fourth- and fifth-grade students don’t have extensive computer experience. While they slowly master the game, they’re also learning how to use and manipulate computer applications — skills they’ll need to learn for real-world applications that extend beyond games.
Many of the older students though, the ones tasked with building a house, have been playing for years.
There were some traditional houses, but one built his completely underground and another incorporated an underwater room.
Dylan Carlo, 12, decided to have one entire wall of his house built of glass. In this class, since students are still getting the hang of the game, he was able to acquire free materials from a virtual store that Westbrook built.
Carlo explained the elaborate process he would normally have to go through to build this type of house: collect cobblestones, build a furnace, gather sand, melt it in the furnace and then take those glass pieces back to the construction site.
Mejia, the student accessing his supplies from an adjacent storage shed, said he learns new things about the game all the time.
“(In) Minecraft, you can do whatever you want to do. There’s no rules,” he said. “It’s fun because you can be creative.”
Its freedom can be puzzling for gamers who prefer structure, levels and final bosses. Even Westbrook, a lifelong gamer, took awhile to warm up to its loose style.
Still, developers have added goals and challenges for people.
Playing in survival mode, as opposed to creative mode, means that the individual needs to be smarter about what items they build and when. They need to use tools to find and eat food so that their hunger and health bar levels don’t drop too low. A shelter is crucial at night to protect against zombies who swarm in the darkness, ready to attack.
Fighting zombies is generally an extracurricular activity. In Westbrook’s class, students are instead focused on the game’s creative mode and collaborating with their peers to build and explore a digital world.
Still, some things are likely to occur in a room of two dozen middle school students, no matter what they are doing.
Halfway through one afternoon class, Westbrook had to intervene briefly when one student stole another’s digital sword. As the teacher, he can freeze student play or turn off their ability to chat with others.
By the end of class, everyone was getting along. The only chaos was due to an onslaught of requests directed at Westbrook — typically to make a new item available in the store.”
To read the full article by Chris Shores click here;
This video, from Edutopia, is so timely and significant! Kurt Squires gives me hope for the future of the United States, hope for young players/citizens, and hope for games’ role in civic engagement. Television trained generations to be passive, compliant, and isolated. Networked Gaming has trained a generation to be active, dissident, and collaborative. Yes, there is hope!
Read more at Edutopia;
From the show notes of EdGamer;
EdGamer 126: How Gamifi-ED Empowers Students
This week on EdGamer 126 we bring back one of our favorite features of the show: new guests! Vicki Davis, Lee Graham and Colin Osterhout of the thriving new gaming and learning initiative Gamifi-ED. (We will be bringing Verena Roberts of Gamifi-ED on EdGamer in the near future) Listen in as we pick their brains about their wiki, personal views on education and some of their favorite games. Tune-in and level-up!
Hangouts On Air with Niilo – Focus – as always – on educational use of information technology
http://gamifi-ed.wikispaces.com/ by Verena Roberts and shared to me by Wes Fryer
What is a serious game? Is there such a thing as a non-serious game?
What are examples of serious games?
How can serious games be evaluated? (Done with higher ed research and input)
Evaluate the serious games that have been discovered and create recommendations and opinions on the usefulness and value of the games for improving the world and the lives of those who play them.
Prepare a presentation to share the findings and create a public wiki sharing the findings.
Show Contributor/Producer: Gerry James
Show Guest: Lee Graham
Show Guest: Colin Osterhout
Show Guest: Vicki Davis
To browse the EdGamer archives click here;
Judy Crawford writes;
“It might resemble the hokey pokey, but these students doing arm circles, jumping jacks and dance steps are actually learning about nutrition and physics using whole-body movements shown to help knowledge retention. Such “mixed-reality” games that merge the digital with the physical are being developed and tested by Mina Johnson-Glenberg in Arizona State University’s Embodied Games for Learning Lab.
“ASU is already at the forefront of games and learning,” said Johnson-Glenberg, associate research professor in ASU’s Learning Sciences Institute, T. Denny Sanford School of Social and Family Dynamics and Department of Psychology. “But our lab is really the only one in the country pushing hard on the principles
behind this kind of embodied learning and also creating games for K-12 classrooms.”
Johnson-Glenberg also is creating games for ASU faculty to use with their college-aged students, either in class or as homework modules. These new role-playing games focus on research methods and how to retain first-generation students. The games will be released to faculty online in spring 2014. For more about the lab, visit http://egl.lsi.asu.edu/.
Trained as a cognitive psychologist, Johnson-Glenberg began her career working in academia on one of the first computer tutoring programs to remediate students with dyslexia. She then turned entrepreneur by starting a small educational technology company funded by several small business grants from the National Institutes of Health and U.S. Department of Education. Six years ago, Johnson-Glenberg moved to ASU where she could focus on creating serious games for learning.
“We have found that students retain knowledge better when they learn it with their bodies,” she explained. “And these motion-capture gesture-rich games have the added benefit of getting students out of their seats and moving.”
Johnson-Glenberg noted that in 2010, more than one-third of U.S. adolescents were considered overweight or obese. She decided to create the “Alien Health Game” to address the wellness of middle school student players on two fronts. First, it is an “exergame” that requires active physical engagement in order to play, and second, the game’s content promotes healthful eating choices. ASU’s Obesity Solutions Initiative awarded the game a seed grant in spring 2013.
To play the Alien Health Game, students must work in pairs while the rest of the class is encouraged to throw out suggestions. “There’s a lot of discourse going on,” Johnson-Glenberg explained.
Before game play starts, the players are instructed, “You have just woken up to find an alien under your bed. It is hungry and it is your job to figure out what makes it healthy.” As students make rapid food choices, they deduce through trial and error which foods make the alien healthier and which foods make it more tired due to poor nutrition. Students not only discover how the five main nutrients interact to create a balanced meal, but they also gain experience with the new U.S. Department of Agriculture MyPlate nutrition guide that recently replaced the familiar Food Pyramid.
With each food choice, players are asked to perform brief cardiovascular activities – jogging, arm circles, dance moves and jumping jacks – that elevate their heart rate and help the alien metabolize food. The game gives them practice in selecting nutritional foods in real-world situations, such as going through a school cafeteria line or grabbing snacks at convenience stores.”
To read the full article by Judy Crawford click here;