Wednesday, April 23, 2014

ELA Serious Games Infused With Stealth STEM Content

Serious Games to develop persuasion and reasoning skills essential for STEM careers

As anticipated on my prior post GlassLab To Launch New Serious Game Created With NASA at G4C Festival, GlassLab Games launched a new game with NASA, Mars Generation One: Argubot Academy, yesterday at the Games for Change Festival

Mars Generation One: Argubot Academy is a new tablet-based Serious Game for middle school students, developed in collaboration with NASA and experts in literacy at the National Writing Project.  

Designed for English Language Arts (ELA) education, Argubot Academy  introduces norms for classroom discussions, persuasive writing, and expository writing while also promoting interest in STEM competencies. 

The futuristic adventure game uses NASA’s expertise in robotics, planetary science and the possibility of life on Mars to develop critical thinking skills that are essential for STEM careers. The game transports students to Mars in the year 2054, where they will live among people in the planet’s first city, and learn how to be an informed citizen and responsible leader.

Players take on the persona of a new student at Argubot Academy, the city’s middle school. There, each player has to make decisions about the building and governance of the city. 

Players have to build sound arguments for every choice they make – but in this city on Mars, people settle their differences by equipping their robot assistants with claims and evidence for battles of the wits.

Using information from the Mars Exploration Program in consultation with NASA’s experts, players will methodically construct arguments in order to learn how to match evidence to claims, how to make a valid argument, how to recognize the strengths of different types of arguments, and how to make decisions collaboratively.

The game is available for iPad and coming soon to Android! Visit the App Store to download a preview of Episode 1. A full suite of Teacher Tools will be available in mid-May.

Though the game is aligned to Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts, Mars Generation One: Argubot Academy is be infused with stealth STEM content from NASA’s extensive library of educational resources. GlassLab and NASA believe that creating a realistic vision of Mars will pique interest in planetary science and in STEM subjects, while at the same time teaching kids the leadership and critical thinking skills necessary for achievement in any 21st century career.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Serious Games Involve Young Citizens In Public Space Design

Serious Games engaging youth in the planning process of urban areas

Block by Block is taking part in Aldea Digital (digital inclusion festival in Mexico City). So far over 200 kids have redesigned the Plaza Tlaxcoaque in Minecraft. The three winners will be presented on Sunday 27 April. 

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The Block by Block project will be showcased this week at the 11th Annual Games for Change Festival

Block by Block is an innovative partnership between the United Nations Human Settlements Program (UN-Habitat), the UN agency promoting sustainable towns and cities, and Mojang, the makers of Minecraft.

According to Pontus Westerberg, Digital Project Manager for UN Habitat, the program originally started to get people aged 14-25 involved in planning projects in their communities. Minecraft has turned out to be the perfect tool to facilitate this process.

Block by Block aims to involve youth in the planning process of urban areas by giving them the opportunity to show planners and decision makers how they would like to see their cities in the future. The four-year partnership will support UN-Habitat’s Sustainable Urban Development Network to upgrade 300 public spaces by 2016.

The first pilot project in Kibera, Nairobi’s largest slum, is already underway. Working with Nairobi City Council, who owns the land, and a number of community groups and organizations, UN-Habitat is upgrading the Silanga sports, one of the only publicly available football fields, and its surroundings.

At the start of the program, the UK-based Minecraft modding group FyreUK builds the region inside the game.

Community members are then asked to redesign the public space in need inside the sandbox game, creating a 3D visual representation of the upgraded area that can be easily understood by its residents.

Several cities have already been added to the Block-by-Block program. In the below timelapse videos, FyreUK builds other real world sites to be improved using Minecraft as a communication tool. 

Block by Block: Minecraft Timelapse - Kirtipur, Kathmandu

Kirtipur is one of the oldest towns in Kathmandu Valley. In Nepal, public space is closely connected to water, with ponds, stone spouts and wells are traditionally surrounded by public spaces used for relaxation, recreation and rituals. UN-Habitat is supporting Kirtipur Municipality, the Center for Integrated Urban Development (a local NGO) and local communities to improve the water system management, conserve and upgrade existing public spaces for a better community utilization, and initiate a people-centric process to revitalize the public spaces of Kirtipur.

Block by Block: Minecraft Timelapse - Les Cayes, Haiti

Les Cayes, is Haiti’s third largest city, in which groups of citizens were asked to redesign the city’s waterfront.

The waterfront of Les Cayes is unprotected from the sea and regularly suffers from flooding and erosion which badly affects the inhabitants of the slum settlements nearby. In addition, the waterfront is used as an open latrine and for waste disposal. Starting in an areas called Plage de Touterelle, UN-Habitat is developing an ambitious plan to turn the waterfront into a public urban walkway, usable by all citizens of Les Cayes.

Monday, April 21, 2014

11th (Serious) Games for Change Festival Starts Tomorrow As Part Of TFF

Viewing gaming as an extension of storytelling

NYC’s Largest Gaming Festival to Take Place April 22-24
Games for Change Public Arcade on April 26

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The 2014 Games for Change Festival starts tomorrow with three days of stellar speakers and panels, and game demos, followed by a full day of fun on the streets of lower Manhattan.

The 11th Annual Games for Change Festival will take place in conjunction with the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival presented by AT&T. The Games for Change Festival, hosted and created by the non-profit Games for Change, seeks to unite leading international game creators with others who believe in the positive social impact of digital games. 

Craig Hatkoff, founder of the film festival, said the collaboration will allow audiences, filmmakers and industry executives to interact with a new form of storytelling. Of particular interest to Tribeca Film Festival officials was the idea that gaming had grown beyond entertainment. Since it was founded in 2004, Games for Change has helped create and promote games with a goal of improving society. Its annual festival is now the largest gaming event in New York.

“Tribeca recognizes the transformative power of gaming that goes far beyond traditional entertainment value of games. The impact and integration has been spreading rapidly across virtually all domains, scaling to social good, from education to healthcare, and from conflict resolution to religion,” said Craig Hatkoff. He continued: “By partnering with Games for Change, we hope to bring together the most cutting-edge creators of games, educators, and the world’s greatest story-tellers. Together, they will create the latest innovations in gaming for the social good to even wider audiences. We look forward to further expanding our relationship with Games for Change in the future.”

Games for Change Festival will take place at the NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts as part of the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival (TFF). The venue will also host the fifth edition of the Annual Games for Change Awards 

The Games for Change Arcade, which is open to the public, will be held at the TFF Family Festival Street Fair, taking place on Saturday, April 26.

Games for Change Program Overview for TFF 2014:

  • Games for Change Showcase at the NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts running from April 22-24
  • Annual Games for Change Awards (categories include Most Significant Impact, Most Innovative, Best Gameplay, and Game of the Year), on April 23.
  • Games for Change Arcade at the TFF Family Festival Street Fair (free and open to the public this April 26) 
Via: Brian Crecente on Apr 21, 2014 at 10:37a - Games For Change Goes Mainstream With The Help Of Tribeca Film Festival

“For the first time ever, Games for Change will be a part of Tribeca's Family Festival Street Fair. The fair, which takes over the Tribeca neighborhood in New York City on April 26, will include a street (Jay Street) set aside for the Games for Change Public Arcade. The street will include a FarmVille exhibit of livestock by Zynga to highlight their charity work, a display by New York's American Museum of Natural History and street games by Come Out and Play and Sesame Street.”

The idea of being in the public space is to take Games for Change to the people who will see it for the first time. And that's one of the major themes of the show. In the past, the festival has fallen into the trap of becoming an echo chamber of sorts, a festival designed for people who were already aware of what games have to offer and their ability to change the world.

“This new take on the festival brings with it a rethinking of both the audience and the presenters.

Serious Games Take ELA Learning To New Heights

Serious Games as part of all-digital English Language Arts (ELA) curriculum for middle school

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Several companies are set to release school curricula designed entirely on digital platforms for tablets, replacing all printed materials. Education companies such as Amplify, McGraw Hill and Scholastic are among the first to heavily invest in an all-digital English Language Arts (ELA) curriculum for middle school.

Amplify’s entry into the Serious Games Market was announced mid last year, as a “groundbreaking line-up of Educational Games focused on English Language Arts (ELA) and STEM, developed in collaboration with leading independent game designers from across the globe and designed to help students achieve core educational goals.”

The games, which have been piloted in schools across the country, are playable on iPad, Chromebook or Amplify tablet. School districts may purchase the games this year, either bundled with Amplify’s Digital Curriculum or separately, for classroom deployment at the start of the 2014-15 school year. 

Lexica, Amplify’s premier English Language Arts product brings together more than 14 embedded Serious Games. 

Developed by Schell Games, Lexica is a tablet based adventure game designed to inspire kids to pursue reading on their own and simultaneously to get them familiar with characters from classical literature.

The World of Lexica is an immersive environment packed with characters from literature and nonfiction. The center of this world is a library stocked with more than 300 classic and contemporary books catering to a broad cross section of reading interests.

A screenshot of the library in the game Lexica

Players have the ability to seamlessly transition from reading books to game play. The games help build key reading and writing skills and reinforce language and themes from the books a player has read. Reading books from the library enables players to better understand the characters and puzzles they encounter in the game world and provides a way to unlock customized capabilities.

The 14 games that are housed within the larger multi-player game World of Lexica include:

  • Mukashi Mukashi (English translation of "MUKASHI MUKASHI" is "LONG, LONG AGO") by Schell Games:  A syntax and storytelling game based on Japanese folklore. The game mechanics “make failure fun” while driving students to engage in sustained exploration of the impact of word choices within longer narratives. 
  • Tomes: A choose-your-own-adventure series with a focus on vocabulary, offers word definitions that are based on context. 
  • Venture!: A bundle of quick-play games focusing on spelling, conjugation of irregular verbs and overcoming homonym confusion. 
  • Story Cards, by Preloaded: A collectible card game featuring authors and characters from classic and modern literature

About Amplify

Amplify is the education division of the media conglomerate News Corp.

Headquartered in New York City and with more than 1,000 employees across the country, Amplify is led by a team of digital education experts and has provided industry-leading instructional tools, data analytics and assessment solutions to the K-12 market for more than a decade as Wireless Generation.