Annual report pegs mobile learning, cloud computing as imminent

Cloud computing is one of multiple technologies that schools will implement over the next five years.

An annual report reveals that mobile learning and cloud computing are poised to reach widespread adoption in schools in one year or less, with game-based learning and open educational content not far behind.

The New Media Consortium Horizon Report: 2011 K-12 Edition is the third annual report from the New Media Consortium (NMC) that focuses on emerging K-12 technologies. It is supported by a grant from HP’s Office of Global Social Innovation.

The Consortium for School Networking, the International Society for Technology in Education, and the NMC collaborated on the research.…Read More

Students excel in STEM gaming challenge

Students' video games explore a variety of STEM topics.

Twelve students in grades 5-8 are winners in the first-ever National STEM Video Game Challenge, a competition to motivate interest in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education by tapping into the natural passion of youth for playing and making video games.

The award program’s first year offered competitions for students and developers.

(See “U.S. ramps up efforts to improve STEM education.”)…Read More

Kaplan and Aspyr bring SAT test prep game to iOS

Kaplan—a name that should be familiar to anyone who’s studied for a college admissions test—may be known more for its ubiquitous test prep books and courses than for game development, but it’s teaming up with game publisher Aspyr Media to change that, reports Macworld. The two companies have released FutureU, one of the industry’s first SAT test prep video games, for iOS. FutureU, originally developed in 2008 for Nintendo DS, PC and Mac, is based on Kaplan’s popular test prep content and methodologies. More than just a series of drills and test strategies, FutureU is designed to provide an interactive, engaging, and fun supplemental test prep resources for students preparing for the SAT—the standardized admissions test required for admission to most US colleges. FutureU takes advantage of iOS’s features with touch-based gameplay that helps sharpen critical thinking skills, build relevant knowledge, and reduce test anxiety. Designed to complement traditional SAT study methods, FutureU consists of six individual games and three quiz types divided into the SAT test’s three main categories: Reading, Writing, and Math. All essential SAT skills are covered in these games, including reading comprehension, vocabulary, grammar, algebra, geometry, and statistics. Sounds a heck of a lot better than trudging through dull test prep books, but remember kiddies: this game is a supplement to—not a replacement for—traditional test prep methods. It’ll still be a good while until we can replace our books and teachers with video games…

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Learning by playing: Video games in the classroom

A New York Times Magazine writer asks: What if teachers gave up the vestiges of their educational past, threw away the worksheets, burned the canon and reconfigured the foundation upon which a century of learning has been built? What if we blurred the lines between academic subjects and reimagined the typical American classroom so that, at least in theory, it came to resemble a typical American living room or a child’s bedroom or even a child’s pocket, circa 2010 — if, in other words, the slipstream of broadband and always-on technology that fuels our world became the source and organizing principle of our children’s learning? What if, instead of seeing school the way we’ve known it, we saw it for what our children dreamed it might be: a big, delicious video game? It is a radical proposition, sure. But during an era in which just about everything is downloadable and remixable, when children are frequently more digitally savvy than the adults around them, it’s perhaps not so crazy to think that schools — or at least one school, anyway — might try to remix our assumptions about how to reach and educate those children.

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U.S. ramps up efforts to improve STEM education

The new initiatives are part of Obama's "Educate to Innovate" campaign.
The new initiatives are part of President Obama's "Educate to Innovate" campaign.

A grant program that challenges students to design their own video games is one of several new initiatives announced by President Obama Sept. 16 as part of a broad expansion of his “Educate to Innovate” campaign, which aims to spur students’ interest in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).

The day before, Obama announced the launch of Change the Equation, a CEO-led effort to dramatically improve STEM education in the United States.

The National STEM Video Game Challenge competition, the first in a series of planned annual events, will be led by the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop and E-Line Media in partnership with sponsors Microsoft Corp., the AMD Foundation, and the Entertainment Software Association.…Read More

College students sound off on social networking likes and dislikes

Google is talking to several top online game developers about creating a broader social networking site that would offer social games and could compete with Facebook—and in interviews with ABC News, several college students offered their suggestions for what Google could do to make them abandon Facebook. When Ryan Khuri, 21, a junior majoring in English/philosophy at the University of Louisville in Kentucky, joined Facebook, he saw it as “the simple alternative to MySpace.” But now, Khuri said, Facebook “seems to be building more and more clutter.” Northwestern medical student Jack Dougherty, 22, agreed. Although he deleted his Facebook account a few years ago to help prevent his spending too much time on his computer, he said, one thing that would make the site more appealing to him is to simplify it. Many college students cite third-party applications as the main cause of Facebook clutter. “The constant invites to join them are annoying,” said Lauren Walters, 21, a graduate student at Clemson University in South Carolina, who said she uses Facebook for “social networking, and not for playing games.” While Facebook users can send video messages to each other and post videos to each other’s “walls,” many students point to the absence of a Skype-like video chat feature. Walters said she would be open to trying Google’s new social networking site but isn’t sure she’d leave Facebook for it, although the ability to chat with other users on the site via webcam could possibly win her over…

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Researchers: Even violent video games can be learning tools

Panelists discussed how people learn and how games can be engineered to be even more educational.
Panelists discussed how people learn and how games can be engineered to be even more educational.

You’re at the front lines shooting Nazis before they shoot you. Or, you’re a futuristic gladiator in a death match with robots. Either way, you’re playing a video game—and you might be improving your vision and other brain functions, according to research presented May 27 at a New York University conference on games as a learning tool.

“People that play these fast-paced games have better vision, better attention, and better cognition,” said Daphne Bavelier, an assistant professor in the department of brain and cognitive science at the University of Rochester.

Bavelier was a presenter at a daylong symposium on the educational uses of video and computer games from NYU’s Games for Learning Institute. The event was another indication that electronic games are gaining legitimacy in the classroom. (The University of Wisconsin-Madison also hosts an annual conference on educational gaming.)…Read More

3D gaming firm, Duke Medical School team up for virtual training

Virtual Heroes, a Raleigh, N.C.-based firm that focuses on so-called serious games technology for use in education and training, has teamed up with Duke University School of Medicine to use virtual reality and 3D technology for medical training, LocalTechWire reports. The two organizations have collaborated to develop a first-person video game (3DiTeams) for use in medical education. On May 27, the two said they would partner on efforts to further develop training tools. “This partnership brings together two world-class organizations with complementary resources and a shared commitment to advancing and improving medical education and training,” said Jeffrey Taekman, assistant dean for educational technology at Duke…

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New computer games promote civics education

The iCivics program is based at Georgetown University Law School.
The iCivics program is based at Georgetown University Law School.

An “unintended consequence” of the No Child Left Behind initiative has been a decrease in civics knowledge, former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor said May 26 in promoting an expanded version of a web site that uses computer games to put a fun spin on learning about government.

The federal education program appropriated funds “based on good test scores in math, science, and reading,” she said, but it did not distribute money for history or civics.

She made the remarks at a conference where she was promoting, a new web site designed to remedy civics ignorance among middle-school students. Launched on May 24, is a rebranded, expanded version of an earlier site called…Read More

Like Facebook, but for learning

Studying online in collaborative environments encourages students.
Studying online in a collaborative learning environment can motivate students.

Aiming to engage students who are multitasking with different forms of technology, companies are creating collaborative learning spaces online where students can help one another solve homework problems and study—all while building important 21st-century skills.

One such social-networking study site is Grockit, which currently offers test-prep services and is expanding its focus to include math and English for students in grades 8-12, with history and science soon to follow. Grockit has opened enrollment for a free Summer Enrichment Academy, which is designed to keep students from falling behind during summer vacation as they participate in collaborative group study forums online.

Grockit’s appeal lies not only in the fact that academic support from peers is free, but also because students are motivated to learn through the company’s social-networking and gaming platform, said Grockit CEO Farb Nivi. As online social networking becomes a ubiquitous aspect of youth culture, sites such as Grockit could represent the future of education technology.…Read More