GISK & FAS Learning Technologies: Games for Classroom Education

Presentation by:

Ann Crewdson, Issaquah/Sammamish Libraries

Angelique Kopa, Harford County Public Library

Dr. Michelle Roper, from Federation of American Scientists

ALSC's Great Interactive Software for Kids Committee changed their game scope in 2007 to include console, mobile, and all games. The expanded scope and expansion of gaming has created both a much larger pool of games to draw from and a lot more work to evaluate them.

The speakers walked criteria for Evaluation:

  • Content is enhanced by the graphics: like a picture book, graphics need good content
  • Games should be user friendly: easy to get into, understand and play
  • Ease of use
  • Educational and entertaining
  • Age appropriate: this criteria goes beyond ESRB to the skills and development of games and players
  • Collaborative play: both for learning and experience

A number of games that met the Standards for Excellence were discussed:

  • Komnami Kids Playground (PS2)
    • "Alphabet Circus" and "Dinosaur Shapes & Colors"
    • Practice of motor skills and refinement
    • Letter knowledge, beginning literacy skills
    • Recognition of primary colors
    • Reinforce letter, color, and shape recognition
  • Big Brain Academy: Wii Degree
    • Puzzles both visual audio
    • Thinking, memorization, computation, analysis, and identification
    • Challenge friends
    • Socialization
  • Animal Genius
    • Produced by Scholastic
    • Vocabulary building, life-science concepts, sorting/matching/categorization
    • Grades K – 2 recommended, but speaker talked about using it with her 2 year old
    • Life Science skills applied
  • Nancy Drew PC Series
    • Based on the books
    • Active problem solving
    • Nonlinear and higher order thinking
    • Develops sequential, logical, reading, organizational skills

For libraries looking for educational uses:

  • Look for partnerships
    • Public / School libraries
    • Vendors
    • Researchers

Michelle Roper from the Federation of American Scientists (FAS) talked about how the FAS has looked at learning technology. They just received founding for a learning technology center. Discussed the potential from studies that technology assisted teaching to bring people from

6 Roadmaps + Executive Summary

  • Instructional Design
  • Question Generation

Games make new learning tools possible

  • Highly motivational
  • Embedded assessments
  • Scaffolding
  • Question Generation and Answering
  • Simulated environments that allow players to build, experiment, operate equipment, and explore
  • Collaboration

Dr. Roper discussed the goals of their game design

3 FAS Learning Games:

  • Immune Attack: basic immunology education; formal learning; $2 million invested into the game
  • Discover Babylon: classroom and museums for learning, targeted 8 – 14 year old; informal learning; over $500,000 invested in Discover Babylon
  • Mass Casualty Incident Responder: decision-making; workforce implementation

(Use slides to show screen shots and details of each game)

Immune Attack has been downloaded 6,000 times since it's release two months ago. Results show gender equity with girls gaining more science understanding than traditional instruction.

"What We Don't Know Can Hurt Us" – Roper made the point that it is important to understand gameplay and user expectations is important to be aware of during a game's development.

"It's not whether or not games will be used, but if they will be used well."

This is an important challenge to educators. Games are already teaching, although they may be teaching outside the curriculum. Our challenge as educators is to help find and create games that support and compliment the curriculum. And above that, games that students want to play. Using a game well is not just having good content, it is making a game with good content that is a game… not an electronic worksheet.