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High school students learn programing and gaming

2-15 InnovationLab1.jpg    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.

Students from the Madison Central High School Innovation Lab write that;

“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.”

– See more at: http://www.richmondregister.com/education/x2039927148/Centrals-Innovation-Lab-teaches-programming-gaming#sthash.XlKeCHTo.dpuf

Making Meaningfull Learning Games

John Flinchbaugh/Flickr

writes that:

“Proving the effectiveness of a game is no simple proposition. Games are all different. When students play a game that focuses on a particular skill, often called “drill-and-kill” games, they often see improved test scores. But those games don’t necessarily get at the higher order thinking skills that games have the potential to help develop. But more complex games often don’t offer clearly correlated outcomes that a teacher can use to prove effectiveness.

The debate has led some game developers and their funders to focus on how the game itself can be used to assess learning — how the game can become a test. But White says that also changes the nature of the game. When a child sits down to play a game, he assumes it’s “failure agnostic” and that allows him to experiment and meander his way through the game freely. When assessment is involved, it changes his relationship to the game. White isn’t against using games for assessment, but he doesn’t think anyone has really figured out how to accurately use the data that games provide to assess in a meaningful way.

Glasslab’s SimCityEDU, funded by the Gates and MacArthur Foundations, is the highest profile example of gaming for assessment. White says if they can crack the code he’ll license it from them, but it’s a lot easier to pull analytics and metrics for a single game than it is to generalize those principles into something that could be applied to all educational games. And, when assessment is involved, the price of developing a game skyrockets.” To read the full article on Mindshift, click here;

http://blogs.kqed.org/mindshift/2014/01/how-can-developers-make-meaningful-learning-games-for-classrooms/

It is good to read a discussion of Higher Order Thinking Skills in games and gaming for assessment.  These are two important issues that need more attention and development.   Unfortunately these games have too often targeted the lower order thinking skills of Blooms’ taxonomy.  In 2007, John Rice conducted a study which assessed higher order thinking skills in video games with the aim of developing a tool for parents and educators to rate the level of higher order thinking skills in video games.  He found that the educational efficacy of these games varies greatly with respect to higher order thinking skill. (Rice, 2007, p. 88).
Rice began his study by examining;  “lower level learning in so-called edutainment products and concludes with an example of an advanced social studies simulation that fosters higher order thinking. [Rice] identifies characteristics of highly cognitive virtual interactive environments and offers a detailed index and scoring rubric as a tool for teachers and preservice teachers to use when evaluating the tendencies a video game demonstrates toward encouraging higher order thinking in its participants  (Rice, 2007, p. 87).”
When educators are looking for a game that does more than drill facts in to the brains of students, Rice’s rubric can serve as a helpful tool in selecting a game that lifts students to the top of Blooms’ taxonomy (1956).

References:

Bloom, B. S. (1956). Taxonomy of educational objectives, handbook 1: Cognitive domain. New York: Longmans Green.

Rice, J. W. (2007). Assessing Higher Order Thinking in Video Games. Journal of Technology and Teacher Education, 15(1), 87-100.

What Makes Serious Games Effective?

From Press Release:

New Research-Based White Paper Published on Serious Learning Games Game On! Learning, the thought leader in serious learning games for the corporate learning market, has just published a new white paper on serious learning games for the corporate training market called “What Makes Serious Games Effective? — 5 Questions to Ask When Evaluating Serious Games in the Workplace”. Share on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on LinkedInEmail a friend Serious Learning Games White Paper Research on serious games suggests improved job skills can be a result of integrating a serious game into your training program. But the same research shows that effective serious games are difficult to design, and they are rare. Gainesville, Florida (PRWEB) December 17, 2013 Game On! Learning, the thought leader in serious learning games for the corporate learning market, has just published a new white paper on serious learning games for the corporate training market called “What Makes Serious Games Effective? — 5 Questions to Ask When Evaluating Serious Games in the Workplace”. The white paper is authored by Dr. Rob Foshay, a principal of The Foshay Group, a consulting firm specializing in high-value strategies for e-learning product architectures, training, and certification. He is a practice leader for The Institute for Performance Improvement, and a Certified Performance Technologist. He is also a Fellow of the International Board of Standards for Training, Performance and Instruction. “Many organizations are currently investigating and implementing learning games”, said Bryan Austin, Game On! Learning’s chief game changer. “ Most are doing so to address the increasing lack of learner engagement of traditional elearning. What those implementing learning games are finding, though, is that they are not just engaging, but that well-designed learning games more effectively anchor knowledge and increase skill proficiency than their “traditional” classroom and elearning counterparts.” Many of corporate learners like games, and play them enthusiastically when at home. For corporate learning professionals, though, the interest is in serious games: those games that are designed to have learning outcomes relevant to the job. “What you really want to know is whether the game is effective in improving job skills, not game skills”, adds Austin. “Research on serious games suggests improved job skills can be a result of integrating a serious game into your training program. But the same research shows that effective serious games are difficult to design, and they are rare.” This research-based white paper provides key elements to look for in an effective serious game. This complementary white paper can be downloaded by clicking here. About Game On! Learning Game On! Learning provides inspired online game based learning solutions that create unmatched learner engagement and produce learners who will immediately and confidently apply their newly acquired skills on-the-job. Our revolutionary “serious games” feature a highly interactive, animated video game design, fun competition versus colleagues, learner-individualized feedback, and real world learning scenarios. An extraordinarily high degree of in-course skill practice helps ramp up employee performance, increase productivity, and move your organization more rapidly forward. We deliver lasting results in an unforgettable learning experience. It’s the most exciting thing happening in organizational learning today! We help you Get Your Game On!

Not all “edu-games” are created equal.

 

Dean Groom, the Manager of Educational Development at University of New South Wales, writes that;

“The re-purposing of video games as learning tools continues to gather pace with the recent release of high-profile educational incarnations of games like SimCity and Minecraft.

Different educational games have their own different origins, and not all of them are created equal. Educational or not, schools and other institutions are being asked to place their trust in something they have historically banned or ignored.

So which games should educators invest their time and trust in?

Just games or real learning?

In the past, educational games have always differentiated themselves from commercial games – branding themselves as serious – and avoiding double-positioning of educational and commercial entertainment.

But now commercial game developers have have begun “edu-versioning” their best-selling entertainment titles, and extending sales through educational editions.

Video games are big business. It’s difficult to know exactly how big the industry is, but the Interactive Games and Entertainment Association reported retail sales for 2012 were A$1.161 billion, not including downloaded games and other downloadable content.

Interest in the potential of video games accelerated in 2008, after the Pew Research Centre reported “97% of US teens play video games.” Talk of the educational potential of games also became a popular topic for TED Talks. Jane McGonigals “Gaming can make the world better” or Gabe Zimmerman’s “How games make kids smarter” claimed games are not only educational but transformative ways to learn.

Learning re-branded

Educational video games are still mainly produced by academic institutions or by commercial developers.

Institutions have begun working with independent developers – for example, Filament Games and E-Line Media – to translate academic theories and research into games. These are usually designed for student use at school.

Online community projects – like Minecraft in Schools – editable by academics and others are in a similar category. These involve using an existing framework and adapting them to include lesson ideas and assessment tools.

Often these types of games include “teacher only” powers to enforce particular learning styles or behaviours on students. And they sit outside of institutional or commercial control, normally used independently by teachers.

Australian school teachers have taken to using educational version of Minecraft to teach spacial and numeracy skills.

Games described as educational are also sold through online stores like Apples iTunes or Google Play. Though prolific in number, they appear devoid of alignment with educational institutions and are generally cheap or free forms of entertainment.

The newest form of edu-game are well-funded commercial games retooled for education markets. There are several examples such as Electronic Arts’ (EA) The Sims, Mojang’s Minecraft and Valve’s Portal.

Portal, rebranded TeachWithPortals, attempts to combine Valve’s seminal game with school science problems. Here, non-gaming teachers can find resources for easier classroom implementation than in non-commercial open software games, which require some assumed knowledge.

But this approach is frequently criticised for fundamentally changing the nature of the game. While keeping familiar aesthetics, these adaptations shift the gaming environment to one teachers feel more comfortable with.

What is a good educational game?

Educational games are often sold as a “better than nothing” proposition, which demotivates some students, and does little to build a new understanding with educators about the extent new media like video games can play in education.

They also allow the companies developing these games to find a new educational distribution channel. For schools, this new era of educational games is a confusing mix of popular culture, social media’s ascendancy, new channels of communication, and a growing research base.

Valve has tried to leverage an existing game into an educational product, but not everyone is convinced it will helped students learn.

Numerous studies have shown teachers must feel the digital technologies are competent and reliable – in essence, trust these technologies – in order to use them with students.

To establish which game-titles are better than others requires teachers to work out how learning occurs in games – empowering students to exchange ideas rather than continue to see the games as a new way of delivering the same teacher-dominated pedagogy.

Good educational games will provide an enriched, personalised learning experience, the ability for the teacher to alter the goals, support for both formal and informal learning opportunities and the potential for social networking.

Games like Minecraft, Terraria, King Arthurs Gold offer these kinds of shared spaces, co-creation, adventure, immediacy, interactivity, persistence and community.

Teachers have become more comfortable with some long-established games – most notably Quest Atlantis – being in classrooms as part of a broader push to bring new technology to learning.

A newer example is the ABC Splash project, which combines film, book, game and live events that school-systems have struggled to sustain or maintain interest in.”

To read the full article click here;

http://theconversation.com/edu-games-hit-the-market-but-not-all-are-are-created-equal-20148

New opportunities to learn through gaming

https://i1.wp.com/www.businessadministrationinformation.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/gaming-classroom-e1382449922604.jpeg

writes that;

“By engaging students and pushing them to succeed, games may offers a new way to teach students, according to an expert on performance and gaming.

In a presentation at least week’s “Educause” conference in California, Jane McGonigal – a game designer, author and researcher – predicted that “extreme learning environments” will offer students a chance to play and create while they learn.

“We normally think of games as being fun, kind of trivial, maybe something to pass the time, but what if we thought about them as a platform for inventing the future of higher education?” McGonigal said in her presentation, according to Ed Tech magazine.”

To read the full article by  click here;

http://www.businessadministrationinformation.com/news/gaming-offers-new-opportunities-in-education

EdGamer Reviews the Illinois Computing Educators Conference

Edgamer-280

EdGamer 90: Illinois Computing Educators (ICE) Conference Review

On episode 90 of EdGamer we review two of the best conferences of the year for technology and education. In the last two weeks EdGamer has attended the ICE and SIT conferences and we have a plethora of new things to share with you! Plus, you get to hear all of the wonderful antics as a result of Zack spending a few days at Gerry’s house. This you can’t miss! Tune-in and level-up!

Alternate Title- The Best Seat on the ICE

 

Show Host: Zack Gilbert

Show Contributor: Gerry James  

To listen to the Podcast click here;

http://edreach.us/2013/03/02/edgamer-90-ice-conference-review/

 

Learning STEM Skills by Designing Video Games

Here is a great video from Edutopia about Rhys, a 10 year old boy from Texas, who likes to;

“play baseball and play Gamestar Mechanic.  I really like making games because you get to be really creative with it.  Okay. So right now I’m logging into Gamestar Mechanic. It’s pretty much the only platform I make games on. You can have it be a story game. You can have it be a blasting game. You can have it be an easy game, a hard game. I mean, really, you can do almost anything.”  In this video, Rhys shows some of the games that he has made and what he has learned.

Kurt Squire says that;

“One real key attribute of Gamestar Mechanic is that you have an authentic audience, right? So in most classrooms you’re building stuff for your teacher who may or may not have time to read your essay that you wrote just because it’s an essay. But Gamestar Mechanic has a vibrant community where people are making games for real people, real audiences that have real demands and expectations. So you have to think about “How is my audience gonna perceive this? How are they gonna perceive my message? What are they gonna take away from it?” And Gamestar Mechanic has that really built in and so that’s really key for learning. It’s something we’re not doing in our schools.”

To learn more follow this link to Edutopia;

http://www.edutopia.org/is-school-enough-game-based-learning-stem-video

Games and Higher Order thinking skills

Doug Adams provides good observations and great quotes on video games and Higher Order Thinking Skills.

To watch the slide presentation click here;

Cuts to Education and Learning Games

JJ Worrall writes that “Games-based learning must tailor cost to austere times, education experts warned”.   Austerity is now influencing the purchase of educational games;

“While calling herself a “massive advocate” for using computer games in the classroom, Dr Whitton, from Manchester Metropolitan University, says: “There’s a lot of rhetoric in games-based learning where games have to be these high-end, commercial quality games. We don’t need to spend lots of money to have an effective platform for learning.”

To read more click here

http://www.irishtimes.com/business/sectors/technology/games-based-learning-must-tailor-cost-to-austere-times-education-experts-warned-1.1417898

A Game to Teach Entreprenuership

Startup Heroes sounds like a game that can give more people the opportunity to explore the world of entrepreneurship in a risk free way. I hope many people will play this game and that many entrepreneurs will be born!

Classroom Aid

Dear Readers,

I am the co-founder and CEO of the Startup Heroes, an online entrepreneurship educational game simulating the process of the startup creation in an engaging, interactive and risk-free real-life 3D environment. We are living an amazing journey!

Most of the students today perceive entrepreneurship as too risky, too costly, too scary and… simply unknown! It is a real black box, and Startup Heroes is a great tool leveraging modern education methods to uncover it and even inspire to become entrepreneurs! According to our recent surveys, more than 70% of our players get a significant increase in their interest and likelihood of creating their own businesses after playing the game!

Did you know you remember up to 9 times better what you experience in a simulation compared to a classic lecture at school? In Startup Heroes, you embark in the journey of a young student passionate for building electronic gadgets. Along your way to develop your entrepreneurial…

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