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Edutopia: How To Bring Serious Games Into The Classroom

The latest issue of Edutopia’s e-Newsletter, dated November 2, under the headline How to Bring Gaming into the Classroom, presents three must-read articles related to "Serious Games" at school (please find also Disconnects Between Serious Games Wins and Report Cards for Students’ Classroom Skills):

Dr. Alex Games (his real name), Education Design Director at Microsoft Studios, shares some new game experiences that can bring both augmented reality and embodied learning into the classroom.

He holds a doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction/Learning Science from the University of Wisconsin Madison, and led the Educational Games and Simulations Project at the Center for Instructional Technologies.

“Nearly three decades of scientific research in games and learning have shown evidence that game play can help players develop a systemic understanding of world phenomena, creativity and strategic problem solving skills. In the sequence of solving complex problems, the act of playing engages players cognitively and emotionally, and assesses knowledge where it is highly relevant to those problems' solution”, he says.

Jump Into Learning - New Developments

Project Columbia, the code name for a new experience being designed in conjunction with the Sesame Workshop Curriculum team, is a new environment where active fun and literacy meet.

Using Kinect for Xbox 360, Project Columbia invites children to use a more embodied learning approach to understanding texts by letting them jump into beloved storybooks and become part of the story themselves. Through full-body interactions, Xbox and Kinect bring the objects and characters in the books to life so that a child's playful interactions become foundational experiences for understanding the relationship between the words in text and their meanings, as well as their sounds. By letting kids jump into the books they read, "Project Columbia" seeks to develop in kids a lifelong love of books and reading so necessary for their literacy development.

Another new experience is called Double Fine Happy Action Theater, a title developed by Double Fine Studios' world-renowned game designer Tim Shaffer. It is a series of play activities that encourage the youngest players to practice their gross motor skills and stretch their imagination in active ways.

Designed to create an inclusive and highly accessible experience for the whole family, in Happy Action Theater, children, their parents and even their grandparents can play in virtual ball pits, firework parades and even lava-filled volcanoes all within their living room. The Happy Action Theater experiences are digital toys and playscapes that capture the imagination of old and young alike. No rules, no menus, no instructions -- just play.

Through these and other new titles, Xbox 360 is continuing to broaden its children’s portfolio with rich experiences that expand our definition of learning into something participatory and experiential.

2. Big Thinker Video: Katie Salen on Learning with Games

Katie Salen, active game designer, founder of Quest to Learn (Q2L), and executive director of the Institute of Play, talks about the value of games and technology and the empowerment of play.

A preschool teacher reminds K-12 educators of the benefits of bringing fun and play into the school day.