In April, a PLAYlive Nation lounge in Tracy, Calif., hosted its first Fortnite tournament and sold out. Hundreds of players bought tickets to play against one another and win prizes.
Joost van Dreunen, the CEO of Superdata Research, a video game analytics firm, says most shooter games are serious and simulate violence. Fortnite, he says, is more like a friendly game of tag.
His company estimates the game has made about $223 million across all platforms in March alone. In lifetime sales, it had made about $614 million. The game is free to play, but Epic Games, the company that owns Fortnite, makes money through microtransactions. Players can spend real money to make cosmetic changes to their characters in the game. They can buy things like skins, which are like costumes, for their characters or emotes, which are celebratory dance moves their characters can do after winning or killing another player in the game.
Ninja, the gamer name taken by 26-year-old Tyler Blevins, is now a legend in the Fortnite world. He is a master at the game and rocketed into popularity after playing in an online battle with rap artists Drake and Travis Scott on March 14. That battle has been watched more than 9 million times.
Educators Battle ‘Fortnite’ for Students’ Attention
Many educators want to ban the game from their classrooms, but some are taking the opposite approach, attempting to weave students’ interest in Fortnite into class discussions and assignments.
Nick Fisher, a science teacher at Fort Zumwalt North High School in O’Fallon, Mo., said his students like to take screenshots of gameplay and send them to friends over Snapchat. Teenagers want to broadcast their victories, and because the game is on their phones, it’s easy to post updates to social media, making Fortnite “the perfect concoction of addiction,” said Fisher.
North High blocks all social media and gaming sites on its WiFi, said Fisher, but students tell him how they circumvent the restriction: They use virtual private networks, or VPNs, to establish independent internet connections. (Dozens of YouTube videos provide step-by-step tutorials for students looking to get around school WiFi controls.)
“Kids can’t multitask,” she said. “Even having a digital device within sight can cognitively distract the student enough that they can’t focus on the academics.”
Schools and teachers should be guiding parents when it comes to appropriate limits around screen time, said Kolb. Most parents will appreciate research-based recommendations, such as turning off all screens a set amount of time before bed, she said.
Games like Fortnite can even have social benefits, said John Velez, an assistant professor of journalism and electronic media at Texas Tech University. Velez, who studies the positive effects of video games, has found that playing violent games cooperatively with helpful teammates promotes pro-social behavior.
Chris Aviles, the coordinator of innovation, technology, and 21st century skills for the Fair Haven Public Schools in New Jersey, wrote “A Teacher’s Guide to Surviving Fortnite,” an exploration of ways the game can be used for instructional purposes. The guide, posted to his blog Teched Up Teacher, suggests how to integrate the game into writing prompts, math lessons on probability, and physics.
Aviles doesn’t advocate playing the game at school. There isn’t any educational value in letting students engage in virtual combat during a lesson, he said. Instead, teachers can build a lesson around one aspect of the game, such as having students calculate the best angle of approach as they jump from the “Battle Bus,” the floating bus that drops players onto the map at the beginning of each match.
Instagram, Snapchat, Fortnite: The distractions are endless. Here’s how to help kids cope.
In January, two of Apple’s shareholder groups asked the company to look at the addictive effects of iPhones on children. Google’s recent developer conference highlighted tools to help users better control smartphone usage.
A 2015 survey of more than 1,800 teachers and 400 principals in Alberta, B.C., found that nearly three-fourths of teachers frequently or very frequently observed students multitasking with technology, and 67 percent of teachers believed that the number of students negatively distracted by digital technologies in the classroom was growing.
The best approach is to use empathy, compassion and collaboration to help the young people in your life find ways to manage their digital workflow.
Encourage visualization for inspiration and motivation. The first step is getting students to buy in and to want to make behavioral changes.
Focus on compartmentalization. A 2009 study from Stanford researchers found that people who juggled several streams of electronic information were not able to pay attention, remember key information or switch tasks as effectively as those who completed one task at a time.
Using the Pomodoro technique of spending 25 minutes focused on one task followed by a five-minute break can be an easy way to have students begin to shift from a multitasking to a monotasking mind-set.
Make focus fun. There are now numerous ways to use technology to help us be more productive with technology, and it doesn’t have to be arduous. Students in my office use apps such as Forest or Flipd to motivate them to stay off their phones during class or when doing homework. Forest has a simple interface that will build a digital tree for users who stay off their phones. Flipd allows users to hide certain apps, allot time off their phone based on their schedule and, for a premium, track their progress over time.
Provide structured support as needed. A middle school student with whom I worked recently was relieved when his mother used the Mac OS app SelfControl to block YouTube and ESPN while he was doing his homework (Cold Turkey is a similar PC-based app).
Allow opportunities for regrouping. Even the best plans can go awry (for adults and kids alike). It’s important to focus on progress rather than perfection. Create time daily or weekly for students to think about what went well in terms of managing distractions and improving productivity, and what they would like to do better. Ask open-ended questions without judgment or expectation
Here’s how to evaluate the potential for mobile solutions
Before they set foot in their first class, incoming college students face a maze of requirements and resources that will be critical to their success. So-called “student supports” abound. Yet forty percent of first-year studentsdon’t return the following year, and a growing number report information overload as they navigate campus life amid newfound independence.
The nine in 10 undergraduates who own smartphones are probably familiar with the xkcd about it. College-aged Americans check their devices more than 150 times per day. So it should be no surprise that a growing body of research suggests that mobile solutions can play a critical role in enhancing the student experience.
1. Is the mobile app native?
We’ve all had the frustrating experience of using a smartphone to navigate a page that was designed for a computer. But when designing native mobile apps, developers start with the small screen, which leads to simpler, cleaner platforms that get rid of the clutter of the desktop browsing experience.
As smartphones overtake laptops and desktops as the most popular way for young people to get online, native design is critical for universities to embrace.
2. Is there a simple content management system?
It’s also critical to explore whether mobile apps integrate with an institution’s existing LMS, CMS, and academic platforms. The most effective apps will allow you to draw upon and translate existing content and resources directly into the mobile experience. My note: this is why it is worth experimenting with alternatives to LMS, such as Facebook Groups: they allow ready-to-use SIMPLE mobile interface.
3. Does it allow you to take targeted action?
At-risk or disengaged students often require more targeted communication and engagement which, if used effectively, can prevent them falling into those categories in the first place.
Unlike web-based tools, mobile apps should not only communicate information, but also generate insights and reports, highlighting key information into how students use the platform.
4. Does it offer communication and social networking opportunities?
Teenagers who grew up with chatbots and Snapchat expect instant communication to be part of any online interaction. Instead of making students toggle between the student affairs office and conversations with advisors, mobile platforms that offer in-app messaging can streamline the experience and keep users engaged.
ECAR collaborated with 157 institutions to collect responses from 13,451 faculty respondents across 7 countries about their technology experiences. ECAR also collaborated with 124 institutions to collect responses from 43,559 undergraduate students across 10 countries about their technology experiences. Please see the 2017 student and faculty studies hub for more about this year’s research.
When it comes to meeting technological support needs, students’ default modality is DIY. Students are more than twice as likely to figure out solutions to technology problems on their own, to search online sources, or to ask a friend than they are to use their campus help desk. Contacting the vendor or company to fix a technology problem is the last resort.
Laptops are king, smartphones are queen, and tablets are on the way out.
Students’ experiences with their instructors’ use of and approach to technology in the classroom are a mixed bag. A majority of students said most of their instructors have adequate technology skills, use technology to enhance learning, and encourage the use of collaborative technology tools. However, students said fewer faculty use technology for sophisticated learning tasks (e.g., engagement, creative and critical thinking), and relatively few faculty ask students to use their own devices for in-class work.
Students are choosing sides in the online versus face-to-face debate. For the fourth year in a row, the number of students preferring a blended learning environment that includes some to mostly online components has increased. The number of students preferring completely face-to-face or completely online courses continues to dwindle. The number of students expressing no preference has been cut by more than half since 2014.
Students are satisfied with features of their LMS…except when they aren’t.Students have favorable opinions about the basic features and functionalities of their LMS. But, the more sophisticated the task and the more engagement required of students, the less happy they tend to be. This may be a function of the tools, the instructors who use them, or both.
Students would like their instructors to use more technology in their classes.Technologies that provide students with something (e.g., lecture capture, early-alert systems, LMS, search tools) are more desired than those that require students to give something (e.g., social media, use of their own devices, in-class polling tools). We speculate that sound pedagogy and technology use tied to specific learning outcomes and goals may improve the desirability of the latter.
Students reported that faculty are banning or discouraging the use of laptops, tablets, and (especially) smartphones more often than in previous years. Some students reported using their devices (especially their smartphones) for nonclass activities, which might explain the instructor policies they are experiencing. However, they also reported using their devices for productive classroom activities (e.g., taking notes, researching additional sources of information, and instructor-directed activities).
Canada will see the fastest growth, with a CAGR of 145.2 percent over the forecast period. Other leaders in terms of growth include Central and Eastern Europe at 133.5 percent, Western Europe at 121.2 percent and the U.S. at 120.5 percent.
Leslie Fisher Thinks Augmented Reality First, Then VR in the Classroom
An interview with the former Apple K–12 systems engineer, who will participate in multiple sessions during ISTE.
THE Journal: What do you think about virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) in the classroom? Is the cost point for VR prohibitive?
In virtual reality, one of my favorite apps is CoSpaces. It allows anyone to design a 3D space, and then interact with it in virtual reality.
Virtual reality can be quite affordable with Google Cardboard. We can get into basic interaction in VR with Cardboard. There are 40 or 50 VR apps where you can simply use Cardboard and explore. Google Street View allows you to do virtual viewing of many different locations. That technology augments what the teacher is doing.
Most kids can’t afford to buy their own Oculus headset. That price point is quite a bit higher. But we don’t need to have 30 kids using Oculus all of the time. Two or three might work
Digital Bodies cofounders Emory Craig and Maya Georgieva for an interactive session that will examine five developments in virtual, augmented, and mixed reality with the greatest potential to impact teaching and learning. Ask your questions live as they explore how groundbreaking developments in VR, AR, MR, and artificial intelligence will power immersive technologies and transform learning.
annual Speak Up survey of more than 510,000 K–12 students, parents and educators
Middle school students seem to be the most excited about AR and VR in the school setting. Among students in grades 6 through 8, 33 percent said they would like to see augmented reality apps in their ultimate school, and 47 percent of those kids said they would like to see virtual reality experiences and hardware in their ultimate school.
teachers, principals and parents were more skeptical. Only 12 percent of parents and principals said they want to see AR apps in their ultimate school, while 13 percent of teachers said the same.
The topic of the use of electronic devices, being that laptops, and more recently smartphones, tablets 2in1 laptops (or hybrid laptops) has been a disputable issue among instructors.
Under the tutelage of TPR, I am offering to facilitate a campus-wide discussion on the use of electronic devices in the classroom. The short-range goal of such discussion is to provide a platform for SCSU instructors to share their pedagogical experience in handling the use of electronic devices in the classroom.
The long-range goal of such discussion will be to start a conversation among SCSU faculty about the didactic of educational technology; going beyond just learning technology and start building practices for successful use of technology for teaching and learning.