Using games to measure student skills

Game-based learning has broad implications for assessing student skills, researchers say

game-gamificationGame-based learning is one of the most popular trends in education today, and for good reason–a well-designed game engages students, boosts their interest in the topic it addresses, and immerses students in an educational and challenge-driven environment in an almost seamless manner.

But this is just scratching the surface. Many researchers and educators say games have a positive impact on student learning and that they help students develop skills such as problem solving, critical thinking, and collaboration.

What if game-based learning could help educators measure skills such as these–skills that aren’t always measured by traditional assessments?

(Next page: How games can help educators measure important skills)


Five ways Instagram can improve learning

Educators, librarians, and administrators can capitalize on Instagram’s popularity by incorporating the social media service in the classroom

instagram-learningInstagram is not just for teens and celebrities posting pictures of their favorite food, pets, and vacation spots.

Like Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube, educators can use Instagram to boost student interaction and engagement with interesting pictures and multimedia.

Watch this clip for more on how you can implement Instagram in the classroom.

(Next page: 5 ways to use Instagram for learning)


How video conferencing can expand student growth

Connecting to museums, mentors and students in far-away locations via video can improve the educational experience

video-conferencing-growthCharles Hay World School is a public school in Englewood, Colo., serving 400 students from kindergarten to 6th grade, with an overall student-to-teacher ratio of 15:1.

In addition to standard statewide class curriculum, Charles Hay World School offers gifted and talented and International Baccalaureate classes, as well as special education programs.

Like many educators, the school’s faculty faced a challenge: how to create an exciting, real-world curriculum within the confining four walls of a classroom. And as many other educators have discovered, connecting to museums, mentors and students in far-away locations via video was a clear way improve the overall educational experience and expand students’ world of learning.

But video calling didn’t receive a passing grade at first – the quality of PC-based video calls wasn’t quite compelling enough, and calling options were too limited. Then, Charles Hay World School discovered the telyHDPro video conferencing appliance from Tely Labs. The system’s extreme ease-of-use as well as built-in ability to connect to high-end video conferencing systems via SIP standards answered the school’s needs perfectly.

(Next page: See how video conferencing is impacting the student experience)


5 digital learning trends in museums

No longer do students fill out worksheets during museum trips–today’s spaces are going digital


Jorg Hackemann /

Museums are a popular field trip destination, but as learning becomes more digital, more and more museums are offering digital learning programs designed to engage students and give them enhanced educational experiences.

During an Alliance for Excellent Education webinar, Barry Joseph, the associate director for digital learning at the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) in New York City, offered an overview of how digital learning programs are taking root in museums.

AMNH’s digital learning program grew out of a MacArthur Foundation grant that resulted in a framework of connected learning, which focuses on what digital media can enable youth to do, especially when those students are able to learn about their passions and interests, Joseph said.

(Next page: Five digital learning strategies at AMNH)


Four mobile deployment tips from CTOs

A roundup of best practices from CTOs can help those hoping to start mobile initiatives

mobile-CTOMobile learning is on the rise, and school leaders recognize that mobile initiatives, when implemented correctly, give students a distinct advantage as they enter college and the workforce.

But sometimes, roadblocks such as infrastructure challenges and access barries complicate mobile device deployments.

This issue was covered in depth during the most recent Connected Educator Month, and in case you missed it, we’ve decided to highlight these valuable tips, straight from chief technology officers (CTOs) across the nation.

(Next page: CTOs’ mobile tech tips)


The next-gen classroom: Bridging the gap of science and technology

California is adopting the Next Generation Science Standards and many teachers and administrators applaud the push into the 21st century.

science-classroom-technologyThe fields of science and technology have proved to be catalysts for many industries in Silicon Valley.

Concurrently, educators have felt the urgency to implement new technology into their classrooms. While the entire world is using innovation to promote their respective products or marketing plans, educators are working closely with their districts to stay abreast of these advancements and to find the dollars to acquire today’s technologies for their classrooms.

I’ve been teaching science for 26 years, and am currently a 7th grade teacher at Jordan Middle School in Palo Alto. Although my students have always enjoyed using traditional microscopes, some students struggle to transcribe images they see in the microscope to paper. Students often draw dissimilar images rather than what is in their scope.

I was offered the opportunity to field test Exo Labs Cameras in my classroom. It was exciting to consider a tool that could lessen the struggles of some students, and help them to be more exacting and successful. I couldn’t help but envision the camera in the hands of my students.

I knew immediately I needed to incorporate this technology into my science labs and lesson plans. The Exo Labs camera is easy to use, simple, and sturdy; yet, it has very sophisticated capabilities.

(Next page: How the Exo Labs camera can transform the classroom)


Minecraft’s potential in today’s classrooms

Gaming, including Minecraft, has important implications for students

Minecraft-2Gaming is gaining more and more momentum in education, and one of the most popular games today is Minecraft, which educators are using in innovative ways in classrooms across the country.

Minecraft is a “sandbox” game that includes game-like components but offers users flexibility to build the game in any way they desire. The game offers different modes and approaches and is highly modifiable and flexible.

Though the game itself is popular, using it in classrooms based only on its popularity won’t work magic on students. But following best practices and a few important rules can help increase student engagement, said Marianne Malmstrom, cognitive architect at The Elisabeth Morrow School (N.J.). The school’s students used Minecraft to design their own game, Escape to Morrow, which they have been playing in–and out–of classrooms for three years.

(Next page: Minecraft’s potential for learning)


App of the Week: Boost your social studies game

social-appThis social studies app helps students learn about different countries’ cultures, customs, and more.

Name: Whole Wide World 2

What is it? There’s no passport necessary as you play through the world one game at a time. Whole Wide World 2 takes you on a fun journey of sight, sound and play. Meet kids from all corners of the globe and learn about their customs and cultures.

Best for: Students ages 5-8

Price: Free

Requirements: iOS 6.0 or later

Features: Whole Wide World features a range of themed content around Geography, Social Studies, History, and Culture introduced through exciting action, logic, puzzle, and matching games. Discover the beautiful monarch butterflies of Mexico and explore the giant rocks of Iceland. Ride a Kangaroo in Australia, find hidden objects in China and much more! Fill your scrapbook with postcards from around the world as you learn fun facts about cultural and geographical wonders.

Link: iTunes