Four Inventive Games That Show Us the Future of Learning

Earth Primer

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.


Patrick Smith, the designer behind “Metamorphabet,” is like the games equivalent of a toymaker.


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.

You don’t need to write any code to create a simple story with Twine, but you can extend your stories with variables, conditional logic, images, CSS, and JavaScript when you’re ready.

Twine publishes directly to HTML, so you can post your work nearly anywhere. Anything you create with it is completely free to use any way you like, including for commercial purposes.

Twine was originally created by Chris Klimas in 2009 and is now maintained by a whole bunch of people at several differentrepositories. – reviews and ratings for educational materials

The Visualization Gap

The bigger problem, however, is our mental limitations in both teaching and thinking visually. Most classes that “teach” PowerPoint gloss over the narrative changes that it imposes on us through its transition from a linear textual narrative to a nonlinear visual one. They also fail to examine the information transfer capacities of various media. PowerPoint is software that complements a performance and often fails as a container for information. It needs to be augmented by more persistent visual and textual media. I’ve worked around this by creating websites as a mechanism to gloss my presentation; provide background linkages; and to create a persistent, living complement to what happens live. Slideshare fails to do this because it only gives you half of the presentation, the visual part, which may or may not stand on its own. Part of visual literacy is understanding how visual media complements other media, such as audio and text.

Finally, we need to start embedding design thinking into our processes. Design thinking is, by its very nature, closely tied to the visual.

More on presentation design and tools in this blog:

future trends in education

The NMC Horizon Report > 2016 Higher Education Edition Wiki


educational technology and faculty development

Educational Technology and Faculty Development in Higher Education

 The Potential of Mobile Devices for Teaching and Learning

Despite the near ubiquity of student laptops and smartphones, in-class BYOD is still an emerging practice.

civil disobedience

Encrypted chat app Telegram reverses stance, bans 78 ISIS accounts

Telegram is an encrypted chat service that lets users create anonymous channels that can be followed by hundreds of users.

In addition to Telegram, Twitter and YouTube have also removed ISIS-affiliated content, with hacker organization Anonymous having taken down more than 6,000 Twitter accounts following the Paris attacks.

Meanwhile, Telegram said it only takes steps against confirmed ISIS channels. “For example, if criticizing the government is illegal in a country, Telegram won’t be a part of such politically motivated censorship,” the company said. “While we do block terrorist (e.g. ISIS-related) bots and channels, we will not block anybody who peacefully expresses alternative opinions.”

More on this topic in this IMS blog:

presentation design and tools for PSY 101

Plan for PSY 101 work with students on alternatives for presentation and design

epidermal wearables

Electronic Sensors Printed Directly on the Skin

New electronic tattoos could help monitor health during normal daily activities.

Wearable Electronic Health Patches May Now Be Cheaper and Easier to Make

K-12 Technology

A Digital Future: K-12 Technology by 2018

The recently-released New Media Consortium Horizon Report details six up-and-coming technologies in the next five years for K-12 classrooms.

Horizon #1: In the next year, or less.

Mobile learning. Cloud computing.

Horizon #2: Within two to three years.

Learning analytics. Open content.

Horizon #3: Within four to five years.

3D printing. Virtual laboratories.

Presented on the NMC K-12 Horizon Report over the weekend at the Alliance for International Education Conference held at Yew Chung International School of Shanghai: