More educators turning to educational gaming

Gaming is gaining more recognition, but has been slower to develop and take root in classrooms, White said, in part because it takes good game developers time to create an educational game that is not only interactive, but that delivers the “extra” educational components and data in an impactful way.

Another reason for educational gaming’s slow adoption rate? There are not a large number of great examples of games being used in incredibly effective ways, and thus school administrators are less likely to implement a gaming initiative if they don’t have enough clear examples of that game’s effectiveness or the data they’ll receive from it.

When it comes to gaming, what’s out there?

Gaming options vary widely, from elementary school games to advanced, immersive games designed to engage middle and high school students in complete alternate worlds. Some educational gaming options include Minecraft, SimCity, Surge EpiGame, and Satisfraction.

Dig-It! Games offers games about ancient civilizations, including Mayan Mysteries and Roman Town.

MIT researchers have been developing the Radix Endeavor, a multiplayer online game designed to reinforce science, technology, engineering, and math learning for high school students, since 2011.

The game covers biology, algebra, geometry, probability, and statistics, and also is aligned to the Next Generation Science Standards.

Students are players on an island with unknown plant and animal species and must solve various problems as they explore the island. The game’s multiplayer component, MIT researchers said, helps students call on shared knowledge and collaboration as they develop problem-solving skills.

Task-based assessments, sorted by topic, are embedded throughout the game, and the game uses data to offer players feedback about their strategies and progress. That data also appears in an educator portal so that teachers can monitor student progress and adjust instruction accordingly.

Radix Endeavor is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and is being developed at the MIT Education Arcade in collaboration with Filament Games.

Many educators are turning to Educade, a free site that pairs standards-aligned lesson plans with interactive teaching tools, including educational gaming. Teachers share their best and favorite content and resources with one another.

The site highlights different teachers and their games or tools.

Resources and lesson plans include Mathbreakers, a virtual math toy box; Rough Science, an iPad app that teaches users how to create science experiences out of regular household items; and Dragonbox Algebra 5+, a puzzle game that teaches algebra skills. Topics include electrical engineering, algebra, life skills, literary analysis, and more.

Gaming in practice

Joli Barker, a third grade teacher at Earl H. Slaughter Elementary School in McKinney, Texas, TCEA 2013 Classroom Teacher of the Year, and author of The Fearless Classroom, turned her classroom into a “living video game,” and is using gaming for student engagement and assessments.

Laura Ascione

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