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.
Students Who Move as They Play Video Games Retain What They Learn
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;
Video Games and Spatial Creativity
Jonathan Wai wrote a very compelling article on “Why We Need To Value Students’ Spatial Creativity”. He reminds us of the spatially creative inventors and geniuses who have contributed so much to to science and industry. Then he reveals how schools neglects the development of spacial creativity. He makes clear connections between the video games, the development of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) skills and spacial creativity;
“The research is clear that spatial skill is important for STEM careers, and perhaps we can even enhance spatial skill to help more people join the STEM fields. What we need is research directed at understanding the best ways to develop the talent of students who are high spatial, but relatively lower math/verbal. Perhaps spatial video games and online learning coupled with hands on interventions might help these students.”
Wai also writes that;
“Spatial thinking “finds meaning in the shape, size, orientation, location, direction or trajectory, of objects,” and their relative positions, and “uses the properties of space as a vehicle for structuring problems, for finding answers, and for expressing solutions.” Spatial skill can be measured through reliable and valid paper-and-pencil tests—primarily ones that assess three dimensional mental visualization and rotation. Read more about examples of items that measure spatial skill here.
But despite the value of these kinds of skills, spatially talented students are, by and large, neglected. Nearly a century ago, a talent search conducted by Lewis Terman used the highly verbal Stanford-Binet in an attempt to discover the brightest kids in California. This test identified a boy named Richard Nixon who would eventually become the U.S. president, but two others would miss the cut likely because the Stanford-Binet did not include a spatial test: William Shockley and Luis Alvarez, who would go on to become famous physicists and win the Nobel Prize.
Today talent searches often use the SAT and ACT which include math, verbal, and writing sections, but do not include a spatial measure. All of the physicists described above (and Tesla who could do integral calculus in his head) would likely qualify today at least on the math section, and Edison would likely have qualified on the verbal section due to his early love of reading. However, there are many students who have high spatial talent but relatively lower math and verbal talent who are likely missed by modern talent searches and therefore fail to have their talent developed to the extent it could. Also, because colleges use the SAT and ACT for selecting students, many high spatial students likely do not make it onto college campuses.
Nearly every standardized test given to students today is heavily verbal and mathematical. Students who have the high spatial and lower math/verbal profile are therefore missed in nearly every school test and their talent likely goes missed, and thus under-developed. What’s more, spatially talented people are often less verbally fluent, and unlikely to be very vocal. Finally, teachers are unlikely to have a high spatial profile themselves (and typically have the inverted profile of high verbal and lower math/spatial), and although they probably do not intend to, they’re more likely to miss seeing talent in students who are not very much like themselves.”
One topic that Wai did not address is the effect of the gender imbalance, in teaching, on the neglect of spacial creativity in US. Schools. When one gender so dominates the teaching profession, we should expect that certain aspects of creativity will necessarily be neglected. Gender diversity is better for all professions. Gender diversity in the teaching profession would go a long way toward fostering the development of spacial creativity in students.
To read the full article by Jonathan Wai on Mind/Shift click here;
$10,000 Video Game Scholarship
Alicia Cano, University of Central Florida
2013 Winner of the $10,000 Penny Arcade Scholarship
Penny Arcade announces;
“Orlando, FL– Alicia Cano, a recent graduate of UCF’s graduate game-development program, the Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy (FIEA), is the national recipient of the 2013 Penny Arcade Scholarship. The scholarship is worth $10,000.
The Penny Arcade Scholarship was established in 2007 to recognize students who have the most potential to positively impact the video game industry.
Cano, who was in the programming track at FIEA, was one of 57 student producers, programmers and artists that graduated FIEA on Dec. 13, 2013. She got her undergraduate degree from the University of Florida in computer engineering in 2007 and is currently a programmer at local game developer Iron Galaxy Orlando.
“I’m thrilled to receive this scholarship and happy that Penny Arcade recognized my desire to make a difference in video games,” Cano said.
Winners must be a full-time student at an accredited university at the time of application and maintain a minimum of a 3.3 GPA. Previous winners include FIEA alumnus Hunter Hart, who was the 2011 recipient.
The Penny Arcade was founded in 1998 as a web comic created by Jerry Holkins and Mike Krahulik. Since their debut they have expanded Penny Arcade to include Child’s Play, a children’s charity, and Penny Arcade eXpo (or PAX) an annual gaming convention.”
– from http://www.penny-arcade.com/scholarship
Details on the Scholarship;
Am I eligible for the scholarship?
As long as you meet the following criteria, yes!
- Must be a full-time student attending an accredited college or university in the United States during the 2013-2014 academic school year (you must be currently enrolled in a program to be eligible; high school seniors are not eligible).
- Must have the intention to enter the game industry in some capacity.
- Major: Any field.
- GPA: 3.3 minimum on a 4.0 scale.
Can I apply for someone else or on behalf of someone else?
No. The application and letter must be completed by the intended recipient of the scholarship.
When will the winner be notified?
A congratulatory letter will be sent in July of that year. The award is contingent upon your written acceptance, to be returned within three weeks of the date of the letter.
What if I have a question that isn’t on this FAQ?
Feel free to send an email to email@example.com
Video Game Grant
“The difference of research focus for this grant, as opposed to the one before it, switches from what students are learning to how they’re learning, said Rajiv Ramnath, an associate professor of practice in computer science and engineering and researcher on the project.”
To read the full article click here; http://thelantern.com/2013/11/video-game-learning-research-program-granted-nearly-250k/
‘Serious gaming’ and dementia friendly design innovation and new research on how video games improve aging brains
Older people who play videogames enjoy sharper brain function, says a new study.
Josh Dzieza writes that;
“Someday doctors may tell you to beat two levels and call them in the morning. Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, have found that a driving videogame can improve memory and attention among older players, lending new scientific support to the burgeoning field of therapeutic software.
In the game, called NeuroRacer, players drive a car along a winding road while keeping an eye out for road signs that occasionally pop into view. They’re supposed to click on certain signs and ignore others while maintaining control of the car. It’s not exactly Grand Theft Auto, but it requires players to multitask, something that becomes increasingly difficult as we get older. A preliminary study of the game showed just how badly age wears down our ability to switch attention: people in their 20s were 26 percent worse at choosing the right signs when they had to drive at the same time, while people in their 60s and 80s were 64 percent worse.
But the exciting thing about the study is that it found elderly players got better—a lot better—with practice, and that this improvement carried over to other mental activities. After playing the game for 12 hours over the course of a month, players in their 60s and 80s outdid 20-somethings playing for the first time. More importantly, separate tests found that this improvement carried over into other cognitive functions. Elderly players’ memory and attention improved, mental powers not directly targeted by the game—suggesting that the brain can continue to change late into life, and that properly designed games might be able to direct this change, counteracting some of the mental decline that comes with age.
“Previous work has shown that the brain is plastic,” says Dr. Joaquin Anguera, the lead author of the study, using the neuroscience term for the brain’s mutability. “Other studies have shown that games can improve cognitive function. But the most important thing we found is that videogames can have beneficial effects on other tasks if they’re properly designed.” Not only did elderly players perform better on tests of working memory and attention, but EEG imaging found that brain activity in the prefrontal cortex, an area involved with attention, began to resemble that of younger adults.”
To read the full article by Josh Dzieza click here;
Media release from FightDemenitia.org on October 23, 2013;
“Internationally recognised dementia friendly design principles and practices will be showcased at a ground-breaking, dementia learning facility in Parkville to be opened later today by Ita Buttrose AO, OBE, Alzheimer’s Australia National President and Australian of the Year.
The first of its kind in Australia, the new facility showcases dementia friendly design features with the intention of educating and calling for all workplaces, homes and public spaces to commit to becoming dementia friendly.
Maree McCabe, Alzheimer’s Australia Vic’s CEO said through this undertaking, Alzheimer’s Australia Vic is taking the lead in tackling dementia and ensuring people living with dementia receive the best care and support possible to enable and empower them to have the quality of life they deserve.
“With the prevalence of dementia in Victoria projected to increase to 141,000 by 2030, we are responding to the need we have for new and more sophisticated approaches to learning.
“We are committed to creating the better-skilled, quality aged and healthcare workforce we need for the future.
“Being dementia friendly is about developing ways to promote social inclusion as well as awareness about dementia. It is about the ways in which society as a whole, not just the aged and health care sectors, embraces people with dementia to ensure their needs are addressed in both the physical and social environment,” Ms McCabe said.
A major feature of the project is the Perc Walkley Dementia Learning Centre that will create a multi-sensory simulation using light, sound, colour and visual content while incorporating ‘serious gaming’ technology to create a virtual reality experience – Aged and healthcare workers will be taken in to the world of dementia.
The Centre includes doughnut shaped mood lighting, a massive ten metre by two metre wall that can have a seamless image projected across its width and breadth, an interactive touch screen and gesture- sensor technology.
“The intention is to lead our course participants into thinking differently in their approach to caring.
“After 30 years of caring for people with dementia, their carers and families, this facility empowers our organisation to deliver on our purpose and showcase our important dementia friendly design messages throughout Victoria and indeed the world,” Ms McCabe said.
Features such as carpets, wall colour, signage and clear fronted cupboards can greatly impact on a person living with dementia and their ability to successfully negotiate their environment.
The use of the same colour paint on walls, door frames and doors, for example, can make it difficult for some people living with dementia to identify and find their way into a room. The move to Parkville also opens the doors to the development of stronger relationships and collaboration with research neighbours, The Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health, Melbourne Brain Centre, National Ageing Research Institute and the University of Melbourne. Alzheimer’s
Australia Vic will retain its Hawthorn offices at 98-104 Riversdale Rd from which we continue to provide our Victoria-wide Family Services. The 155 Oak St, Parkville site will be dedicated to Learning Services.
This initiative was funded by the Lorenzo and Pamela Galli Charitable Trust, jointly funded by the Commonwealth and State governments through funding from the Home and Community Care Program, and other private donors. Alzheimer’s Australia Vic would like to acknowledge their generosity.
In Victoria almost 74,600 people are living with dementia. Alzheimer’s Australia Vic is the charity representing people with dementia in Victoria. As the peak body, we provide specialised dementia information, education and support services. Call our National Dementia Helpline on 1800 100 500 or visit www.fightdementia.org.au/vic”
Sam Watson 9816 5745 / 0437 453 113 / firstname.lastname@example.org or
Christine Bolt 9816 5772 / 0400 004 553 / email@example.com
New opportunities to learn through gaming
Julian Hooks 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 Julian Hooks click here;
Video game playing improves visual sensitivity for learning
From the Abstract;
“Action video game playing has been experimentally linked to a number of perceptual and cognitive improvements. These benefits are captured through a wide range of psychometric tasks and have led to the proposition that action video game experience may promote the ability to extract statistical evidence from sensory stimuli. Such an advantage could arise from a number of possible mechanisms: improvements in visual sensitivity, enhancements in the capacity or duration for which information is retained in visual memory, or higher-level strategic use of information for decision making. The present study measured the capacity and time course of visual sensory memory using a partial report performance task as a means to distinguish between these three possible mechanisms. Sensitivity measures and parameter estimates that describe sensory memory capacity and the rate of memory decay were compared between individuals who reported high levels and low levels of action video game experience. Our results revealed a uniform increase in partial report accuracy at all stimulus-to-cue delays for action video game players but no difference in the rate or time course of the memory decay. The present findings suggest that action video game playing may be related to enhancements in the initial sensitivity to visual stimuli, but not to a greater retention of information in iconic memory buffers.”
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;
- Game Based Learning Introductory Reading List (gamedlearning.com)
- Games Based Learning through Text Adventures (gamingandeducationengagementinlearning.com)
Mindcraft declared “Ultimate Multi-Tool” for teachers and learners.
PBS Idea Channel’s Mike Rugnetta, declares Mine Craft to be an “Ultimate Multi-Tool.” For the past few months me and my 4 year old son have been building amazing worlds in Minecraft. We both love this game! It offers so many opportunities for creativity and learning. Minecraft is “constructivist” in more ways than one. To learn more about the power of Minecraft for engagement in learning watch the video below. Thanks to Dr. Christopher Quinn for sending me the link to this video. Enjoy!