Designed by Chaim Gingold, a Ph.D. student at UC Santa Cruz, indie developer and designer of Spore’s creature creator, “Earth Primer” is a reinvention of the textbook. Unlike the all-too-familiar “interactive textbooks” that are little more than pictures and animations tacked on to traditional text, “Earth Primer” starts from the ground up. It’s elegantly presented and paced.
Money and time are the two most common barriers to using games in the classroom. “Extrasolar” solves both while also striking pedagogical gold: authentic, self-motivated learning. It’s a free alternate reality game (ARG) that mimics the day-to-day life of a rover driver exploring an alien planet for a mysterious space agency. Rather than placing players in some fantastical world, they interact with what looks like a typical desktop interface, giving their rover commands, and waiting to receive photographs and data from the alien world as well as messages from their employer. Each bit of play requires only a few minutes of activity. The wait builds tension, and when matched with the relatively mundane interface and tasks, it doesn’t feel like a game — which is kind of the point. Best of all: It’s all based in real science and, like with any good ARG, has a healthy dose of mystery to give players a reason to return.
Twine is an open-source tool for telling interactive, nonlinear stories.
Project Syria, a virtual reality experience built by a team of students at USC.
“I sometimes call virtual reality an empathy generator,” she says. “It’s astonishing to me. People all of a sudden connect to the characters in a way that they don’t when they’ve read about it in the newspaper or watched it on TV.”
What Peña’s doing — using virtual reality in combination with reporting — is part of a wider landscape of video games being created to explore the news. And they’re called, appropriately enough, “newsgames.”
“There’s an argument to be made that games are perfect at getting at the systemic problems and challenges in the world,” says Ian Bogost, a professor at Georgia Tech.
Take a game that he helped make called Oil God. In the game, the player controls an oil-rich region, waging wars and inciting coupes. The player learns that oil prices are contingent on all sorts of factors rarely mentioned in a story about the price of a gallon of gas.
creating games to bring awareness to social issues for over a decade. The game to create the biggest waves was arguably MTV’s “Darfur is Dying” released online in 2006, in which players took up the role of a family displaced by conflict in Darfur.
Games and gaming as a type of collection and library service is growing in libraries around the world. This growth has led to many questions about library practices related to this type of collection. You are invited to help clarify library practices related to tabletop game collections by taking this 15 minute survey.
The purpose of this survey is to gather information from all types of libraries on how they are cataloging, processing, and circulating their tabletop game collections. Your information is valuable no matter the size or scope of your local collection. This information will be included anonymously in an article on library tabletop game collections and made available in a digital repository. Our goal is to use this information to guide best practices for tabletop game collection development and circulation in libraries.
applying the mechanics of games to the science of psychometrics — the measurement of the mind.
Scholars like James Paul Gee believe video games actually come much closer to capturing the learning process in action than traditional fill-in-the-bubble tests. My note: Duh...
Schwartz’s theory of assessment focuses on choice. He argues that the ultimate goal of education is to create independent thinkers who make good decisions. And so we need assessments that test how students think, not what they happen to know at a given moment.
Recently, ED/IES SBIR announced its 2015 awards. There are 21 awards in all, covering a range of topics and forms of technology. For example, Zaption is designing a mobile app to help teachers integrate video into science instruction; Speak Agent is building an app to help students with speech disabilities to communicate; and Lingo Jingo is developing a platform to help teachers guide English learners. (To view short video demos of the eight new Phase II projects, see this playlist.)
The 2015 awards highlight two trends that have emerged in the ED/IES SBIR portfolio in recent years –games for learning and bridging the research-to-practice gap in education.
Trend #1: Games for Learning
Strange Loop Games to build a virtual world to engage students in learning about ecosystems,
Kiko Labs to develop mini games to strengthen young children’s thinking and memory skills, and
Schell Games to create a futuristic “ball and stick” molecular modeling kit and app to augment chemistry learning.
For a playlist including videos of these games and 19 others out of the ED/IES SBIR program, see here.
The games for learning trend echoes the movement surrounding games in the field, and is highlighted by recent ED sponsored events including ED Games Week in Washington, DC, last September and the Games for Learning Summit in New York City, in April. Both events convened stakeholders to showcase games and discuss the potential barriers and opportunities for collaboration necessary to accelerate the creation of highly effective games for learning. Stay tuned for more information and initiatives on games for learning out of ED’s Office of Technology.
Trend #2: Bridging the Research-to-Practice Gap
Mindset Works, which built on results from prior research including a 2002 IES research grant, to successfully propose a 2010 ED/IES SBIR project to develop SchoolKit. This multimedia platform enables broad distribution of the growth mindset intervention which teaches students to understand that intelligence can be developed through effort and learning. SchoolKit is now in use in more than 500 schools across the country, including half the middle schools in Washington, DC.
Learning Ovationsis building on two prior IES research grants in their 2014 ED/IES SBIR project. The prior IES funding supported the research team as they developed and evaluated an intervention to improve children’s reading outcomes,. This award is supporting the development of an implementation platform to enable large-scale use of this evidence-based intervention across settings. The project is scheduled to end in 2016, after which the platform will be launched.
The new ED/IES SBIR 2015 awards continue the research-to-practice trend. An award to Foundations in Learning furthers basic research from a 2013 National Science Foundation grant (NSF); an award to SimInsights builds on 2005 and 2008IES research projects and a 2011 Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA) research project; and an award to Apprendris advances a prior 2012 IES research project and prior 2010 and 2013 NSF research projects.
game-based learning seems to be a misnomer, as the learning is not based on games, but enhanced by them. Commercial games are repurposed and modified to support curricular goals, as opposed to driving them. Of course, learning can and should also be based on games, as they are valid texts that can be studied in and of themselves, but it is important to see video games as elastic tools whose potential uses exceed their intended purpose.
My note: game-enhanced learning can be safely classified under “gamification”:
Gamification is defined as the process of applying game mechanics and game thinking to the real world to solve problems and engage users (Phetteplace & Felker, 2014, p. 19; Becker, 2013, p. 199; Kapp, 2012).
More on the issue of gaming and gamification (including coding) in Scandinavian countries: