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iPads in the Digital Classrooms

Tom Sullivan writes that;

“Two-year-old Mia traces out a letter on the screen with her forefinger, then claps with joy when the computer chants “wonderful!” and emits a slightly metallic round of applause.

The preschool group at Tanto International School in central Stockholm is just getting used to a new batch of iPads — one for every two children — and it’s a noisy, chatty affair.

“They really enjoy playing this app. It’s really good for learning pronunciation,” said their teacher Helena Bergstrand.

Bergstrand, along with nearly 90 percent of teachers polled by the city council, believes that iPads and tablets help motivate children to learn.

– ‘More interactive’ –

“There’s an instant appeal with an iPad … they love it!” she says, raising her voice over the din as she moves around the table to help the children.

“It’s more interactive (than pen and paper).”

Petra Petersen at Uppsala University has researched the rapidly growing use of tablets in preschools — recording children when they interact with the technology and each other.

“In the schools I’ve looked at, they usually sit together in a group and its very collaborative, there’s a lot of body contact and verbal communication,” she said.

“These tablets are very multi-modal — they have colours, sounds, spoken words, and things that interest the children — that’s part of what makes them so popular. A large part of learning is about having fun, and the children have a lot of fun with them.”

In Sweden, like in many countries, small children often play games on tablets and laptops long before they encounter them at school.

According to the national media council, close to 70 percent of Swedish two- to four-year-olds play video games.

Nearly a half (45 percent) of children aged two have used the Internet — perhaps unsurprising in a country with one of the world’s highest mobile broadband penetrations.

“It’s more or less prioritised in schools now, to bridge the gap between schools and the environment children are living in,” said Peter Karlberg, an IT expert at the National Education Agency, referring to the thousands of tablet computers bought by public and private sector schools in the last few years.

And that has put increasing pressure on teachers to get up to speed — one in every two surveyed have said they need special training.

– ‘Still a taboo’ –

Felix Gyllenstig Serrao, a teacher in the western city of Gothenburg, has taken computer-aided teaching further than most, using the popular Swedish game Minecraft to teach children with behavioural and concentration problems, including Attention Deficit Disorder and Asperger’s Syndrome.

“I bring something to the classroom that they like — that they do in their spare time — to make them want to be in school,” he said.

“Minecraft is very good because it’s so open and creative … I usually use it to make a topic more alive.”

Serrao — a games enthusiast himself — teaches 12- to 15-year-olds subjects like mathematics and history, using the game’s building blocks, often called “digital lego”, to make maths problems tangible or to illustrate scenes from history books, building them in the game after the formal part of the lesson has ended.

“It reinforces what they learn — when they return to the game later and see there’s a pyramid there or a town we built they remember the lesson.”

He said Sweden has a long way to go before schools can exploit the full potential of digital classrooms.

“There’s still a taboo around games. When I talk to older teachers about this they usually frown — thinking that video games have nothing to do with learning,” he said.”

To read the full article click here;

http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5gVyfCvjc0cDbrWrVeOdymBqmwK7A?docId=49c2368b-2691-4a06-abf4-380f80c822b3

Video games help people with dyslexia

Video games with lots of action might be useful for helping people with dyslexia train the brain's attention system.

Linda Poon, of National Public Radio, writes that;

Video games with lots of action might be useful for helping people with dyslexia train the brain’s attention system.

Most parents prefer that their children pick up a book rather than a game controller. But for kids with dyslexia, action video games may be just what the doctor ordered.

Dyslexia is one of the most common learning disabilities, affecting an estimated 5 to 10 percent of the world’s population. Many approaches to help struggling readers focus on words and phonetics, but researchers at Oxford University say dyslexia is more of an attention issue.

So programs should emphasize training the brain’s attention system, they say, something that video games do. “These video games require you to respond very quickly, to shift attention to one part of the screen to another,” says Vanessa Harrar, an experimental psychologist and lead author of the study.

When people with dyslexia had to shift their attention between sight and sound, their reaction was delayed. And they had significantly more trouble shifting attention from visual to audio than the other way around.

“It’s not just shifting attention from one location to another, but we should also be training shifting attention from sound to visual stimuli and vice versa,” Harrar, who is dyslexic herself, tells Shots.

She adds that at least for some people, making the association between a word and how it sounds might be easier if they hear it first and then see the corresponding symbols.

Scientists today still don’t agree on what causes dyslexia, but one theory says it has something to do with a faulty nerve pathway from the eyes to the back of the brain that is responsible for guiding both visual and auditory attention. When this network malfunctions, people can’t properly combine what they hear and see for the brain to process the information.

To test this, researchers asked 17 people with dyslexia and 19 control participants to press a button as quickly as they could each time they heard a sound, saw a dim flash of patterns on the computer screen or experienced both together.

The results showed that the dyslexic group took longer than typical readers to respond when they had to alternate their attention between a sound and a flash. What really stunned researchers was that the group reacted much more slowly to a sound if it followed the flash.

“We were very surprised by this result, that there was sort of this asymmetry that only occurs in one direction,” Harrar says.

The study was published Feb. 13 in Current Biology,

One explanation for this may be what psychologists call visual capture, says Jeffrey Gilger, an expert in language and learning disabilities at the University of California, Merced.

“As human beings we prefer visual stimuli,” Gilger, who was not involved in the study, tells Shots. “When you’re trying to listen to someone on TV and the sound doesn’t match the mouth moving, it throws you off.

“You’re trying to get the sound to align with the vision, not the vision with the sound,” he adds.

Since this was an unexpected outcome, Harrar says more research is needed to see if the asymmetrical delay is true for all people with dyslexia, and if video games that require quick shifts of attention would be helpful in overcoming it.

While the study did not directly test the effect of video games, her suggestion echoes the results of a 2013 experiment done in Italy. That study found that dyslexic children showed improvements in reading speed and attention skills after having played video games with lots of action.

To read more of this article click here;

http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2014/02/13/276381632/heres-one-more-reason-to-play-video-games-beating-dyslexia

Senate bill encourages learning via video games

“…create a committee to examine how interactive gaming can boost student involvement and achievement, and create a pilot program for integrating games into K-12 curriculum.

The bill was heard Wednesday in Olympia by the Senate Committee on Early Learning & K-12 Education.

Sen. Sharon Brown, R-Kennewick, one of the bill’s co-sponsors, said interactive video games could add to the diverse learning styles of today’s classrooms.

“We have all different types of learners,” Brown said. “We need to address that, and this is one of those ways.”

Sen. Rosemary McAuliffe, D-Bothell, thinks interactive gaming will give students the opportunity to learn while enjoying a game, something she experienced while visiting students of Washington Virtual Academies (WAVA), an online K-12 curriculum program used by the Monroe and Omak public school districts.

Studies from the University of Washington’s Center for Game Science show interactive games can promote creativity and enhance knowledge of science and technology-based fields among students.

“I think we have to bring that technology into the classroom (and) into our schools,” McAuliffe said, “because kids are way ahead of us in that right now.”

Seattle attorney Matthew Hooper testified about academic-based gaming in schools. A report from the Entertainment Software Association indicates 95 percent of American children — and 97 percent of teenagers — play video games, he said.

By the time an average person reaches age 21, he of she has spent more than 10,000 hours playing video games, according to the Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project.

“Their brains are learning, from a very early age, differently than we did,” Hooper told the committee. “It’s no longer absorbing passive information; it’s now absorbing interactive information.”

Hooper also cited a brain-based research study by Stanford University professor and neuroscientist Brian Knutson that analyzed the effects of educational video games on youths.

The study used MRIs to monitor student brains in two groups: those engaged in playing interactive games, and those passively watching the games.”

To read the full article click here;

http://www.tri-cityherald.com/2014/01/23/2789806/state-senate-bill-encourages-learning.html

SENATE BILL REPORT
SB 6104As of January 22, 2014Title
: An act relating to the interactive gaming in schools public-private partnership.
Brief Description
: Establishing the interactive gaming in schools public-private partnership.

Sponsors
: Senators McAuliffe, Litzow, Hargrove, Hill, Billig, Fraser and Brown.

Brief History:
Committee Activity: Early Learning & K-12Education: 1/22/14.
SENATE COMMITTEE ON EARLY LEARNING & K-12 EDUCATION

Staff
: Eric Wolf (786-7405)

Background
: Advances in interactive gaming technology have spurred a recent scholarly focus on how interactive games may be used to engage students and improve academic achievement. For instance, the Center for Game Science at the University of Washington has published several studies on the application of interactive games in education, specifically how interactive games can promote creativity among students; enhance student knowledge of science, technology, engineering, and technology (STEM) fields; and improve critical thinking skills through cognitive skill training games.

Summary of Bill: Interactive Gaming in Schools Public-Private Partnership (PPP). PPP is established, composed of the following members to be appointed by August 1, 2014: four legislators, one member from each caucus of the House and Senate, appointed by the presiding officers of each chamber; four experts in the integration of interactive technology or gaming into education, one expert to be appointed by each caucus of the House and Senate, and appointed by the presiding officers of each chamber; a representative of the Department of Early Learning (DEL), appointed by the director; and a representative of the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI), appointed by the Superintendent of Public Instruction.

The chair of PPP must be selected from among the legislative members. To the extent funds are appropriated, PPP may hire a staff person who must reside at OSPI for administrative purposes. Additional technical and logistical support is to be provided by OSPI, DEL, and
–––––––––––––––––––––

This analysis was prepared by non-partisan legislative staff for the use of legislative members in their deliberations. This analysis is not a part of the legislation nor does it constitute a statement of legislative intent.

Senate Bill Report
SB 6104

the organizations participating in PPP. Legislative members of the partners hip must receive per diem and travel expenses, and nonlegislative members may be reimbursed for travel expenses.

Purpose of PPP.
PPP is tasked with examining how interactive games may be integrated into primary and secondary education to increase student involvement and achievement. PPP must consider how interactive games and advances in technology may be integrated into curricula from early learning through grade 12, and develop a proposal for a pilot program to integrate interactive gaming in schools to be submitted to the Legislature by December 1,2015. The statute authorizing PPP expires on January 1, 2016.

Appropriation
: None.

Fiscal Note
: Available.

Committee/Commission/Task Force Created
: Yes.

Effective Date
: Ninety days after adjournment of session in which bill is passed.

Staff Summary of Public Testimony

: PRO: Games are al ready being integrated into curricula in order to engage students. Students love the games and are excited to even use the games at home each night. Ninety-five percent of children play video games, and the average time of play is over two hours each day. A scientific study from Stanford showed that educational, interactive video games engaged regions of the brain associated with motivation, learning, and memory. In 2012 the Clark County, Nevada school district tested a program in which interactive video games were integrated into low-performing schools. The schools using the games more than doubled their improvement on assessments compared to schools that did not use the assessment. In San Jose, there is a school that integrated interactive media and video games and has particularly notable success with English language learners. Most of the interactive game systems are set up in computer labs in schools, so students do not always require a computer or iPad of their own to participate.

Persons Testifying
: PRO: Senator McAuliffe, prime sponsor; Matthew Hooper, attorney.
Senate Bill Report
SB 6104
– 2 –

Coding is the new literacy – games can help

Ira Flatow of Science Friday (one of the best shows on National Public Radio), Interviewed Hadi Partovi of Code.org on the importance of teaching young people to code.  Code.org encouraged the development of CodeCombat – a game that teaches players to program in Java Script.  Learning to code helps students to develop Higher Order Thinking Skills and other crucial  21st Century Skills.

From Science Friday (NPR);

“With smartphones, tablets, and apps, coding is becoming the language of the digital age, but is the U.S. lagging behind? A panel of experts discusses how we can improve our coding literacy and close the programming gap among women and minorities.”

Produced by Alexa Lim, Associate Producer
Produced by Annie Minoff, SciArts Producer
Guests
  • Hadi Partovi
    CEO and Co-founder, Code.org
    Seattle, Washington
  • Jane Margolis
    Senior Researcher
    Graduate School of Education and Information Studies
    University of California, Los Angeles
    Los Angeles, California
  • Vanessa Hurst
    Founder, CodeMontage
    Co-founder, Girl Develop It
    New York, New York
Related Links

Code.org

To listen to the program on Science Friday click here;

http://www.sciencefriday.com/segment/01/24/2014/is-coding-the-language-of-the-digital-age.html

Hollywood Art Director Makes Educational Games

Fun Town - play and learn

Hollywood art director James Lewis is making educational apps.  He was recently interviewed by Ben Abbott on his game Fun Town.  Abbott writes that;
“His wife’s position as a school special needs co-ordinator is similarly invaluable, giving Touch and Learn an edge over the competition thanks to her hands-on expertise. Said Lewis, “being a primary school teacher my wife is brimming with new ideas for educational games, in particular those she can try on our own and the children at school.” This practical knowledge could prove even more valuable in the future; Touch and Learn are looking into products for kids with learning difficulties, and it’s an area the team would consider stepping into.”

It is good to read that they are considering kids with special needs and are looking into games that can help them as well.  I hope more developers follow their lead.

To read the full article click here;

http://metro.co.uk/2014/01/17/interview-what-can-gaming-do-for-education-4265295/

Scotsman Games: Education and Games – Minecraft

Edinburgh Castle, as recreated in Minecraft. Picture: Contributed

Edinburgh Castle, as recreated in Minecraft. Picture: Contributed

MARTYN McLAUGHLIN writes that;

“IN the second of a three-part series looking at how Scotland’s gaming sector intersects with education, Martyn McLaughlin speaks to the team behind the Xbox 360 version of Minecraft to discover how the hit sandbox construction title is helping children learn complex skills.

NEARLY four and a half years have passed since Minecraft was unleashed on an unsuspected games industry. In that time, it has come to occupy an influential plinth in our cultural landscape. Devised by Sweden’s Mojang studio, it deposits players at the centre of a randomly generated cuboid domain abundant with raw materials. Creativity is essential to progress; the fundamentals of existence such as shelter are the first priorities, but in time, the game allows those who master its techniques and tools to raise wonderfully intricate structures and entire cities from the ground.

Part 1 of our Education and Games series

Since its official release in November 2011, the title has shifted upwards of 33 million copies, a sales figure in excess of seminal albums such as Sergeant Peppers’ Lonely Hearts Club Band, Hotel California and Born in the USA. In an industry too often obsessed with graphical prowess and the awkward aping of cinematic techniques, its constantly evolving universe has captured the imagination of not only gamers, but an increasing number of educationalists who see the merits of applying its mesmerising form of digital Lego to learning environments.

Around the world, Minecraft is slowly becoming accepted as a legitimate classroom tool waiting to be exploited in the same way as established media like films, books and television. In Stockholm, the home of Mojang, the Victor Rydberg school has declared it compulsory for 13-year-olds, with pupils using it to learn about city planning and environmental issues. In New York, Joel Levin, a computer teacher at a private school, helps run MinecraftEdu, an international resource geared towards promoting the game’s use in classrooms.

‘Exciting and engaging’

One of the earliest advocates for the game’s educational values, he first realised its potential after introducing it in favour of a Google Earth geography project in January 2011. “In my eight years of teaching I have never seen students so excited and engaged,” he recalled. “They run up to me in the halls to tell me what they plan to do [in the] next class. They draw pictures about the game in art. They sit at the lunch tables and strategize their next building projects. And not only the boys, but girls too.”

To read the full article by MARTYN McLAUGHLIN click here;

http://www.scotsman.com/lifestyle/scotsman-games-education-and-games-minecraft-1-3149663

New Media Consortium Predicts – Game Based Learning will be Mainstream in 2 to 3 Years

Image

The New Media Consortium included game based learning as one of the “six emerging technologies or practices that are likely to enter mainstream use” within 2 to 3 years.  This was included in the NMC Horizon Report: 2012 Higher Education Edition.  Developers and researchers are working in every area of game-based learning, including games that are goal-oriented; social game, environments; non-digital games that are easy to construct and play; games developed expressly for education; and commercial games that lend themselves to refining team and group skills. Role-playing, collaborative problem solving, and other forms of simulated experiences are recognized for having broad applicability across a wide range of disciplines.

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