Watch: 16-year-old creates working graphing calculator in video game

You may not think much of your everyday calculator, but the functions it performs in a fraction of a second are truly astounding, reports Tecca. Perhaps even more impressive is what you see in the video: a working graphing calculator created within the open-world creation game Minecraft, and the fact that it was built from scratch by a 16-year-old makes it that much more awesome. Minecraft is a computer game where you use blocks of different types to build whatever your heart desires. Using extremely complicated building techniques, players can actually craft working machines like the calculator you see above. But it’s not until you explore the inner workings of the multi-functional calculator that you can fully appreciate the amount of work that has gone into its creation…

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Pearson-backed startup aims to be the Zynga for learning

What if the 232 million people who log into Zynga’s Facebook games each month instead spent hours working through online learning resources? Asks Mashable. At least where teens are concerned, a new Pearson-backed startup Alleyoop is betting the result would be more college graduates.

“Fundamentally, we’re focused on big problem of how you help a teen take control of their future,” Alleyoop President Patrick Supanc tells Mashable.

He’s approaching the problem not by creating new content, as many startups in Pearson’s cornucopia of tech investments have, but by structuring existing content like a Facebook game……Read More

Competition promotes digital gaming in the classroom

Focusing on an hourlong lecture about American history or algebra can seem daunting to high school students, who are used to splitting their attention between texting, Tweeting, and playing video games, U.S. News reports.

“They’re born multitaskers,” says Sara Hall, director of the Center for Secondary School Digital Learning and Policy at the Alliance for Excellent Education, an advocacy organization. Many educators are trying to mirror that multidimensional aspect of students’ tech lives in their teaching styles by making the learning process more interactive. Many are trying digital textbooks; others are assigning webcast lectures as homework in flipped classrooms; and some are teaching via electronic gaming…

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$3M gaming project could help spark STEM education

MIT will develop an online multiplayer game for high school math and biology.

A $3 million Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation grant will help the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Education Arcade build a massively multiplayer online game (MMOG) to help high school students learn math and biology.

Part of the grant’s purpose will be to change the way that science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) topics are traditionally taught in secondary schools. Studies indicate that many students fail to remain engaged and interested in STEM education in high school and college, leading to a need for highly skilled STEM employees in the nation’s workforce.

MIT Associate Professor Eric Klopfer, director of the Education Arcade and the Scheller Teacher Education Program, has researched educational gaming tools for more than 10 years. Klopfer created StarLogo TNG, a platform that helps kids create 3D simulations and games using a graphical programming language, as well as several mobile game platforms—including location-based augmented reality games.…Read More

Researchers debate gaming’s effects on the brain

Researchers are at odds when it comes to video games' educational benefits.

A U.K. study that compared the brains of teenage video gamers found that those who played video games frequently have more gray matter in the area of the brain known to be associated with rewards and decision-making, which raises the question of whether gaming is related to changes in the brain.

Researchers looked for differences in the size of an area of the brain called the ventral striatum, known to be associated with reward and decision-making. This area of the brain is also associated with emotional and motivational aspects of behavior. In particular, it can release a ‘feel-good chemical’ when presented with potential reward situations, such as the opportunity to gain money.

Researchers compared the brain structure and function of 154 healthy 14-year-olds recruited from secondary schools in Germany as part of a larger European study called the IMAGEN project. This sample contained 72 boys and 82 girls and the study assessed their computer gaming activity over a week-long period.…Read More

7 ways games may save our schools

I have never played video games. They cut into reading time. Today, I don’t even understand TV advertisements for games. Do you have to get inside an Xbox? What? I am sensing this may become a handicap for an education writer, says Jay Mathews, columnist for the Washington Post. What game designers know about what excites and involves their users may be the key to a new age of online learning. I say maybe because I have grown weary of technological breakthrough reports that promise more for classrooms than they deliver. Twenty-first century learning plans, when you examine them closely, often appear to be little more than curriculums from the previous century with more expensive equipment and better-written mission statements. That’s what I thought until I bumped into Tom Vander Ark’s new book, “Getting Smart: How Digital Learning Is Changing the World,” particularly the chapter on motivation. He lists seven ways video games reward the brain, as revealed in a 2010 speech by editor and game theorist Tom Chatfield…

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Panel examines ed tech, personalized learning

Educators must figure out how to use digital technology to engage and instruct students.

Education policy in the United States should change and adapt to digital technologies that make personalized learning a reality, agreed a number of panelists during an Oct. 6 Brookings Institution discussion.

Greater access to high-quality education is much-needed, said Darrell West, a Brookings Institution senior fellow and the panel moderator, during “Educational Technology: Revolutionizing Personalized Learning and Student Assessment.”

“Technology innovation represents an important part of that overall puzzle,” he said. “Technology has the potential to improve education by personalizing learning, enabling different forms of student assessment, and making class time more flexible.”…Read More

Panel: Evolving technology has great classroom potential

Interactive, mobile technologies present limitless learning opportunities.

Technology, when used properly, has the potential to increase student achievement and engage students in learning. But the overwhelming number of technology devices and solutions sometimes leads to technology use that does not enhance teaching and learning.

At the AFI SILVER Screen Education SchoolDocs conference in Silver Spring, Md. in late June, a panel of education experts discussed the challenges facing 21st century educators who may become overburdened by technology’s potential in the classroom, and shared their own best practices and solutions on how to implement technology for effective use.

The challenge lies in keeping up with the times—young people don’t passively observe when it comes to technology, and they shouldn’t be forced to be passive listeners or observers when it comes to learning, the panelists said.…Read More