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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.

SimCityEDU Develops Higher Order Thinking Skills.

of Fast Company writes that;

SimCityEDU: A Video Game That Tests Kids While Killing The Bubble Test

A $10.3 million collaboration between Electronic Arts, Pearson, and a nonprofit yields a simulation game that tests thinking and emotion, not just knowledge. . .

“We have all these high-stakes assessments focusing the majority of their testing on rote learning and not application of skill,” says Seth Corrigan, the Director of Education & Evaluation for Glasslab. “We’re never going to transform education and prepare kids for success if we don’t transform assessment to look at higher-order skills. Everything pointed to games as the way to do that.”. . .

SimCityEDU: Pollution Challenge!, the game I’m playing, debuted last week. For those who played SimCity in the 1990s or 2000s, this PC-based game feels familiar; it’s built on the same bits but radically simplified into chunks that take no more than 10 minutes to play, with specific tasks for the player to complete. But what makes SimCityEDU different from other video games, even other video games that have been modded for educational use, is that while middle school players are figuring out how to play this game, the game will be figuring them out right back. As they are zoning neighborhoods or planning school bus routes, the software is gathering detailed evidence about their thinking processes and skills, and whether they’re engaged or bored.

The creators, a multidisciplinary team known as Glasslab, have a wild ambition. They want to use game-based assessments like these to wean our education system off fill-in-the-bubble tests, which are optimized for gauging memorized content knowledge, and instead start measuring what really matters in the 21st century: how well people can think.

“We have all these high-stakes assessments focusing the majority of their testing on rote learning and not application of skill,” says Seth Corrigan, the Director of Education & Evaluation for Glasslab. “We’re never going to transform education and prepare kids for success if we don’t transform assessment to look at higher-order skills. Everything pointed to games as the way to do that.”

Avoiding Chocolate-Covered Broccoli

With its realistic simulations of energy use, pollution, and zoning, SimCityEDU conforms to Next Generation Science Standards recently created by the National Research Council, and includes reading tasks that match the Common Core. Both are voluntary, state-led attempts to create nationwide benchmarks for learning in K-12 schools. But SimCityEDU is not just about teaching content. It’s designed to gather evidence about students’ “systems thinking.”

To See a great video clip about SimCityEDU click here;

To read the full article by click here; http://www.fastcompany.com/3021180/innovation-agents/simcityedu-a-video-game-that-tests-kids-while-killing-the-bubble-test

Game-Based Learning: a research driven trend in education

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writes about “Five Research-Driven Education Trends At Work in Classrooms” one of the five is game-based learning;

Games have long been used to engage students. But as game-based learning becomes more prevalent in schools, researchers are interested in how game structure mirrors the learning process. In many games, students explore ideas and try out solutions. When they learn the skills required at one level, they move up. Failure to complete tasks is reframed as part of the path towards learning how to conquer a level.

Universities like Harvard, MIT and the University of Wisconsin’s Game and Learning Society are studying how game-playing helps student engagement and achievement, and well-known researchers in the field like James Paul Gee and University of Wisconsin professor Kurt Squire show are using their own studies to show that games help students learn.

Once the terrain of experimental classrooms, digital games are now becoming more common in classrooms. In a recent survey by the Joan Ganz Cooney Center, half of 505 K-8 teachers said they use digital games with their students two or more days a week, and 18 percent use them daily. Educators are using commercial games like Minecraft, World of Warcraft and SimCity for education. The Institute of Play continues to study game-based learning and helps support two Quest to Learn schools, which are based around the idea of games and learning.”

To read the full article click here;

http://blogs.kqed.org/mindshift/2013/10/five-research-driven-education-trends-at-work-in-classrooms/

$10.3 Million for new Games, Learning, and Assessment Lab

New institute gets $10M to gamify education for kids

“The game industry and nonprofits are teaming up to create a video   game design lab that will do research on engaging students and measuring learning … The new Games, Learning and Assessment (GLASS) Lab will be managed by the Institute of Play, a nonprofit video game institute with support from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Electronic Arts, and the Entertainment Software Association (ESA). It will be supported by $10.3 million in grants.”-  Dean Takahashi

http://venturebeat.com/2012/06/28/gamifying-education-new-institute-will-creating-learning-games-for-children/