Blog Archives

DiscoPets: a new learning game on Kickstarter

 

  • From the Kickstarter page for this new educational game

Diskopets is a cartoon based, educational, online game world for kids. They see a comical, animated and fully interactive multiplayer game, while behind the scenes they are actually learning from customizable educational materials.

Cartoon Based Interactive Learning Game World

  • Diskopets is a funny, animated, educational multiplayer online game. Like TV cartoons, it has comical and whimsical characters as well as a vast, ever changing world to explore.
  • The characters are small, cute, funny pets living high above us in the sky, on a floating island world. Kids take care of and raise these pets, as they play and learn with each other in the multiplayer world
  • There are many different areas to explore , within the Diskopets world for children, Most containing educational activities disguised as fun games and puzzles.
  • Parents can actually customize and add new learning material to the world. It’s the perfect educational game world for any child in your life.
  • The game is completely multiplayer, so kids get the benefit of social interactions and working together with as well.
  • Each pet’s personality changes over time and adapts to the player. The pet’s behaviour and emotions will change based on how the player interacts with them.

We started with a desire to create something that would teach science and math to kids. We soon realized that kids learn best through fun, discovery and play.

Learn by Playing:

  • Kids learn by playing games.
  • They gain physical skills by playing physical activities. They gain social skills by interacting with one another.
  • They learn learn best when they are having fun.

Fun with cartoons:

Growing up as kids, we loved cartoons and games. We learned our ABCs from watching our favourite characters on cartoons and television shows.

Sadly, today’s cartoons and games have moved away from the simple, fun and loveable characters we knew on Saturday morning cartoons. Today kids are bombarded with fast, more action based games and shows.

We want to create an interactive game that teaches and encourages learning through funny, cartoon based, character and simple play.

We don’t want the kids in our families to play non-educational, non-constructive games. We want there to be a choice for parents, brothers & sisters or uncles & aunts when it comes to what games to give the kids in their family.

Experimenting = Learning:

Kids learn best when they learn on their own through play and interaction. Kids listen more to subtle suggestions rather than forced rules.

We are creating a world that nudges them in the right direction and uses real educational techniques disguised as funny characters and games.

While television is passive and most educational games are played individually, Diskopets offers a unique opportunity to involve parents in multiple ways, with cooperative and multiplayer gameplay, in-game chats, and customization of educational material

We wanted to make a game that helps build a digital bond between kids and parents, one they can play together. Parents and siblings can even interact within the game, playing and chatting with each other and visiting the homes of their pets, all while learning useful educational material.

Customizable By Parents:

Parents can customize and even add to many areas of the game.

  • They can change fruits and vegetables in the garden.
  • The art room has drawings that can be uploaded to colour or chose drawings based on learning.
  • There is even a quiz show area where questions can be added and customized. It gives parents complete control over what their child will see and learn.
  • Many more customizations …

Kids today play many games which are purely for entertainment and don’t have any educational value at all. With Diskopets parents can rest assured that their kids are engaged in something they’ll find fun and entertaining, but they’re also learning as they play and experiment.

Track And View Progress:

Parents might not be aware of what benefit or value their child is getting from a game, if any.

To keep track of and reward achievements, the Diskopets world would include a trophy room.

For kids, it’s a showcase where they can see everything they’ve accomplished and gain status within the world.

For parents, it’s a way to keep track of what games your kids are playing, how much time they’ve spent playing in different activities, and how much progress they’ve made.

Everyone can benefit from Diskopets:

  • Kids are entertained, interacting and learning
  • Children learn together in a social environment as they play
  • Parents know their children are in a educational online game environment
  • Parents can customize content and take part in their child’s education
  • Teachers can suggest customizations to help with current school needs
  • Friends and family members can take part in the multiplayer game fun

 To learn more about Discopets click here for the Kickstarter page https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/diskopets/397258373?token=93b92d35

or click her for the website

http://www.diskopets.com/

 

Game play and mental fitness

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, Ellen M. Martin, and Melinda Speckmann write that;

“Games have been part of human culture for millennia. It is no surprise that elements of play can be powerful digital tools to grab our attention and keep us on a path to taking care of ourselves and others.

Big data is already behind brain games. The use of big data is becoming increasingly mainstream in health play applications. Once we are drawn in, game play (with big data under the hood) can help us to:

  1. Stay sharp,
  2. Stay well, and
  3. Overcome illness.

Staying sharp

Digital tools aim to make brain fitness fun by playing with the mental states our brains experience and project. Brain fitness games exercise different functions: short and long-term memory as well as accuracy and efficiency for processing information and solving problems.

Lumosity entered the consumer market with engaging user interfaces and now offers more than 40 games that challenge and train memory, flexibility, processing, speed, and problem solving. Two examples include Speed Match, which tests speed of visual processing, and Memory Matrix, which challenges the brain’s ability to remember spatial locations. Preliminary studies suggest that these games have beneficial long-term effects.

Using machine-learning algorithms, the games keep you interested by using feedback to deliver personalized questions for your engagement and by finding your learning sweet spot; not too easy but not too hard.

With over 50 million users and 1 billion game plays, Lumosity’s Human Cognition Project has launched 43 ongoing studies, exploring topics such as age-related cognitive decline, interventions for PTSD, and the relationship between physical exercise and Lumosity brain training.

Brain Resource aims to improve brain health, particularly to better diagnose and treat diseases of the mind such as depression and ADHD. The company began by building integrated, standardized data sets from screening questionnaires, cognitive assessments, genetic profiles, and MRI or fMRI scans. By standardizing measurement and procedures, the company can compare neural activity within various regions of the brain to better understand brain circuitry and interconnectedness.

The BRAINnet Database, (a.k.a. the Brain Resource International Database or BRID), available to global academic and research partners, has grown to 50,000 datasets. It includes 5,000 healthy controls from ages 6 to 100, plus more than 1,000 subjects with diagnoses such as depression, schizophrenia, and mild cognitive Impairment. Its standardization feature, unique among such databases, allows the comparison of brain function across disease states.

The insights derived from the BRAINnet Database have been commercialized into a brain assessment and training platform known as MyBrainSolutions. The brain training program is used by corporate wellness programs to promote brain health and resilience among employees. The site features 24 brain training exercises or games to improve cognitive and emotional functioning. In addition, MyCalmBeat facilitates control of stress, anxiety, and panic by providing feedback on heart rate.

Outcomes associated MyBrainSolutions include improved thinking and memory processes as well as emotional balance.

They are also among the first to perform clinical trials in the arena of ADHD and depression. Two global studies under the rubric International Studies to Predict Optimized Treatment Response (iSPOT) aim to identify biomarkers and develop companion diagnostics for these two areas.

CogniFit provides scientific assessments and brain training programs directly to consumers as well as to professionals in the area of cognition.

Both markets are still in their infancy. CogniFit is available in more than 13 languages and offers more than 50 different assessments and training tasks to measure and train this large number of cognitive abilities.

CogniFit dynamically personalizes the training programs it offers to its users on more than 25 key cognitive skills, such as working memory, eye-hand coordination, concentration, and response time.

With more than 150 cognitive variables tracking each training session and millions of data points for variables such as demographics, countries, skills and training programs, CogniFit is building a reliable and exhaustive cognitive database that is being used to develop new training regimens to further study the impact of mental health diseases on cognition and improve the development of preventive solutions for brain health.

Akili Interactive is tackling both game play and big data to build the first therapeutic mobile video games, using technology licensed from neuroscientist Adam Gazzaley at UCSF. A Nature publication shows how gaming can improve cognitive skills.

In the latest version of NeuroRacer, a 3D video game, players choose avatars that travel down a waterway. The game’s back end uses an adaptive algorithm based upon real-time performance metrics to create a real-time learning experience optimized for each player. Engaging individual learning styles and using big data to customize the learning experience, could increase engagement and exercise personal multi-tasking skills.”

To read the full article click here;

http://strata.oreilly.com/2014/01/using-big-data-and-game-play-to-improve-mental-fitness.html

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/#

GraphoGame Helps Children Learn to Read

Graphogame logo

“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).

Reference:
Howard-Jones, p. (2014). Neuroscience and Education: A Review of Educational Interventions and Approaches Informed by Neuroscience
To read the full review click here;

“The Gender Gap in Gaming is Closed”

Speak Up

Chris Riedel of THE Journal writes;

“According to the latest data, video for homework is on the rise; mobile computing is “beyond the tipping point”; and most kids don’t use traditional computers to connect to the Internet at home. Those are just three of the major trends revealed in the 2013 Speak Up Survey from Project Tomorrow, which CEO Julie Evans revealed at the FETC 2014 conference last week.

The 2013 results represent more than 400,000 surveys from 9,000 schools and 2,700 districts across the country. Respondents included 325,279 students, 32,151 teachers and librarians, 39,986 parents, 4,530 district administrators and, new to this year’s survey, 1,346 community members.”

Riedel continues;

“8. Gaming is Growing, and the Gender Gap is Closed

Another interesting area for Evans was student gaming. This year’s results showed 60 percent of students using laptops as a gaming device. Cell phones and game consoles tied with 54 percent use, while tablets clocked in at 44 percent.

Of particular note is students’ interest in taking gaming technology and applying it to learning difficult concepts, as well as their interest in using games as a way to explore career opportunities. Evans also noted no gender difference in students’ interest in games, with younger girls actually showing more gaming activity than their male counterparts.”

Read more at http://thejournal.com/articles/2014/02/03/10-major-technology-trends-in-education.aspx#QO1SgEJ0lFwEpiMJ.99

Games Can Help Struggling Students Learn

More educators are using online games to supplement teaching, and are seeing positive results.

, 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, of US News, click here;

http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2013/11/26/how-virtual-games-can-help-struggling-students-learn

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

Video Games as Tools for Learning and Recovery

video games

Sheldon Armstrong writes that;

“Many parents see video games as time-wasting distractions and encourage their children to stop playing and to focus on their studies. A growing number of teachers and scientists, however, are beginning to see these games as valuable tools in education and therapy. Video games have the ability to teach children not only basic skills, including math, physics and language arts, but broader concepts like collaboration, spatial reasoning, and critical thinking. Innovative therapists also use existing gaming systems to develop new programs to help patients recover from a variety of accidents and illnesses.

Education
Gaming offers children an alternative to the boredom they often feel when faced with traditional methods of education. Computers and tablets are such a ubiquitous part of contemporary life that it makes sense for teachers to use them in educational curriculums.

Video games are adaptable for all levels of learning. Instead of boring rote memorization that can be off putting to kids, video games offer an exciting medium to help students conceptualize theories in subjects such as math, algebra, geometry, and physics. Games can teach problem solving, provide challenges, and encourage risk-taking, all within an educational context. These games can motivate kids in their schooling.

Spatial Reasoning
Spatial reasoning is the ability to visualize and manipulate two- and three-dimensional objects. It is a vital component in the teaching of mathematics, science, engineering, and technology. Studies have linked strong spatial reasoning skills with advanced levels of creativity and innovation. Games that encourage children to solve puzzles, build structures, and craft virtual worlds also teach children spatial reasoning. Developing spatial reasoning skills through video games not only helps kids improve basic math scores, but can also prepare them for future professional work.

Critical Thinking
Critical thinking involves understanding concepts rather than memorizing facts. In video games, players are confronted with complex problems for which they must formulate solutions and take appropriate action. Often, a number of different alternatives are presented to players, forcing them to make quick choices. This process sharpens vital critical thinking skills.

Collaboration
Though gamers are often stereotyped as people sitting alone in front of a screen, in reality, most game play is a collaborative process. Many games have multi-player options in which two players, each with a controller, work together to solve a problem or reach a goal. In a larger context, massively multi-player online role-playing games in which players from all over the Internet join forces in virtual worlds to combat foes and achieve objectives require sophisticated teamwork skills. Video games enable students to interact socially while they simultaneously develop problem-solving skills.”

To read the full article by Sheldon Armstrong click here;

http://thetechscoop.net/2013/11/27/breaking-barriers-video-games-tools-learning-recovery/

Research shows that collaborative gaming increases learning.

NDTV notes that;

Playing educational video games either competitively or collaboratively with another player can enhance students‘ motivation to learn, a new study has found.

While playing a math video game collaboratively – as compared to playing alone – students adopted a mastery mindset that is highly conducive to learning, researchers said.

Moreover, students’ interest and enjoyment in playing the math video game increased when they played with another student.

The findings point to new ways in which computer, console, or mobile educational games may yield learning benefits.

“We found support for claims that well-designed games can motivate students to learn less popular subjects, such as math, and that game-based learning can actually get students interested in the subject matter?and can broaden their focus beyond just collecting stars or points,” said Jan Plass, a professor in New York University’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development and one of the study’s lead authors.

“Educational games may be able to help circumvent major problems plaguing classrooms by placing students in a frame of mind that is conducive to learning rather than worrying about how smart they look,” added co-lead author Paul O’Keefe, an NYU postdoctoral fellow at the time of the study.

The researchers focused on how students’ motivation to learn, as well as their interest and performance in math, was affected by playing a math video game either individually, competitively, or collaboratively.

Researchers had middle-school students play the video game FactorReactor, which is designed to build math skills through problem solving and therefore serves as diagnostic for learning.”

To read the full article click here,

http://gadgets.ndtv.com/games/news/playing-video-games-collaboratively-competitively-can-boost-learning-study-443517

Games Train Doctors

PMLiVE declares that;

“Interactive games are set to be the new frontier in education for healthcare professionals (HCPs) according to a leading expert in e-learning.

Speaking at the European CME Forum in London last week, Prof Peter Henning of Karlsruhe University in Germany explained that making learning “fun” could reverse a declining trend for the use of e-learning as part of continuing medical education (CME).

“Current mainstream CME e-learning courses are nice, but the number of participants is going down,” said Prof Henning, references such examples as an online eye surgery video/text course at the Virtual University of Bavaria that has just 56 participants.

He added: “Do we stick to such types of courses that have to be paid for, updated regularly and you have to be registered to participate? The answer is, of course, no.”

Instead, the use of ‘serious games’ with learning aspects should be considered as an alternative, said Prof Henning, noting that gaming has long been used as a form of education.

“Playing a game was one of the earliest strategies for learning complex patterns,” he said. “Whenever we play we are learning. So the question has to be: Why did we ever take out the fun out of learning?”

To support his point, Prof Henning provided example projects submitted to the European E-Learning Award eureleA, for which Prof Henning is head of the jury

These included the INMEDEA Simulator, which allows HCPs to example virtual patients in an online clinic, and a programme designed by Line Communications that educates doctors on the classification of bone fractures via a goal-based approach that incorporates time challenges and other gaming elements.

The hardware for gaming could also be beneficial in healthcare education, according to Prof Henning, who noted the potential of the Microsoft Kinect – a piece of kit for the Xbox console that recognises body movements.

This technology is already finding uses in healthcare, with Microsoft teaming up with Tokyo Women’s Medical University to devise a non-touch system to control a video camera during surgery.”

To read the full article from PMLiVE click here; http://www.pmlive.com/pharma_news/gaming_to_educate_doctors_520689