West Virginia funds ‘exergaming’ systems for schools

There is no specific curriculum or suggestions for how teachers should use the Xboxes.

State officials in West Virginia have spent $90,000 on 286 new video game systems in the hope the machines can be used to motivate 21st century schoolchildren to exercise.

The state Department of Health and Human Resources provided the grant to the state Department of Education to purchase new Xbox 360 Kinect systems, said Melanie Purkey, director of the education department’s Office for Healthy Schools.

The systems will be used to help bolster physical education and health classes throughout the state, Purkey said. Players use their own body movement to control the video games, a method Purkey and others believe can help improve student health.…Read More

5 ways teachers can evaluate educational games

A recent Joan Ganz Cooney Center survey of 500 educators found that half of all kindergarten through eighth grade teachers are now regularly using digital games in the classroom, says Dr. David Dockterman, chief architect, learning sciences at Scholastic Education and an adjunct lecturer at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Nearly one in five are using them every day. It’s clear that in the age of the iPad, digital games are opening up a world of new possibilities for teaching and learning, and for increasing engagement in the classroom. But teachers must be reassured that the games they are using are connected to instructional goals. As part of my work to develop educational math games, we established a process for creation and educational integrity. Here are the five areas we evaluated that teachers can also consider when trying to determine what games to offer their students…

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Educational gaming on the rise, but funding remains a challenge

Teachers most often use literacy or math games in the classroom.

In a national survey, teachers say they believe that using digital games in the classroom helps students maintain concentration and enthusiasm for learning, while making it easier for teachers to differentiate instruction and assess students.

The survey of 505 teachers who use digital games in their K-8 classrooms aims to identify what teachers think about game-based learning and how digital games affect students beyond academic achievement. It offers a mix of qualitative interviews with quantitative data to offer a more rounded picture of teacher opinions.

The survey, Teacher Attitudes about Digital Games in the Classroom, released by the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop in collaboration with and support from BrainPOP, was released at the NewSchools Venture Fund-Aspen Institute Summit in San Francisco.…Read More

New video game-themed high school may be a hard sell

Never mind video games getting in the way of homework or learning time. At one Florida school, video games are homework, the Huffington Post reports. A new magnet program at Miami-Dade County Public Schools will launch this fall that focuses on digital design and coding, drawing on recent nationwide calls for emphasis on education in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Named the iTech Academy at Miami Springs Senior High, the program becomes the first video game-themed magnet in the country’s fourth largest school district.

We’re going to be a school that produces not only games, but apps. It’s part of my vision,” Principal Anna Rodriguez told The Miami Herald. “I can see our students building holograms. I can really see it.”

A focus on science and math education comes as the U.S. is becoming increasingly concerned over learning among the country’s youth in STEM…But even as there’s growing demand for those who possess technological skills like animation, programming and computer design to support a growing mobile gaming industry, parents may still struggle to wrap their heads around a video game-themed high school.…Read More

Students create their own 3D content

Educators say the best part of the 3D program is that students become independent learners, invested in their own skill sets.

Some tech-savvy school districts are helping students take knowledge and creativity into their own hands by giving them the chance to create their own 3D content.

And many educators say that 3D is a logical path for today’s students, who are accustomed to customizing their technology tools for their own needs.

“With 90 percent of most learners being visual in nature, I definitely see 3D as the next step in curriculum,” said Jeff Epps, information technology director for Richmond County School District in Rockingham, N.C. “The ability to take a concept and visually display it with interactivity is a powerful teaching tool. Also, to provide students who possess the skill sets to produce concepts such as 3D simulations represents a quantum leap for K-12 education.”…Read More

Experts: Collaboration tools hold big promise for education

An expert panel said social networking can help boost student engagement.

Social networking and educational gaming ignite spirited debates regarding their practicality in the classroom: Some educators say those technologies can engage students in new ways, while others question their actual effectiveness.

How Blogs, Social Media, and Video Games Improve Education,” a new paper from Darrell West, vice president and director of governance studies at the Brookings Institution, seeks to examine how collaboration tools can improve teaching and learning, and it identifies some of the key challenges that such tools must overcome.

At an April 24 Brookings Institution forum, a panel of experts discussed the impact that collaboration tools can have on education and key aspects of integrating collaborative technologies into curriculum.…Read More