This week NPR’s All TECH Considered ran daily shows on the gaming industry. Two pieces from the series really connect with educators so we will focus on them today.
The first, Video Game Creators Are Using Apps To Teach Empathy, tells the story Trip Hawkins who started EA Sports and “helped make Madden NFL a cultural icon.”
According to NPR, he now has a new vision for games: “He wants to teach… Hawkins thinks a well-designed video game can teach kids empathy — how to listen to each other and control negative emotions. It could teach children basic skills that would ultimately help them get along better with each other and adults out in the real world.”
“Hawkins has gathered experts in social development and learning, and they’re creating a new game called IF. In the game, players visit an imaginary village called Greenberry.
” ‘Greenberry is a world in which there are cats and there are dogs, and they don’t get along well,’ says Jessica Berlinski, who helped design and write the game’s story. ‘So part of the challenge is to figure out why, and then working to heal that.’
“As kids progress through the game, they begin to rebuild the village of Greenberry. And kind of like in Pokemon, they collect magical creatures who enhance their power.Sometimes the creatures might die — but the game does something totally different: It helps them work through it. There’s a virtual counseling session with a community leader, who teaches kids deep breathing exercises and has a dialogue about feelings of loss.”
Clearly one goal of the game is to get kids to navigate interpersonal challenges and failures. If you’re interested in learning more, listen to the podcast here.
The second piece, For Advocacy Groups, Video Games Are The Next Frontier, is also quite interesting! It tells the story how “as video games become more mainstream, advocates are beginning to see how this art form can be a new way to reach out and get people engaged in a cause.”
The reporter traces how Take Half the Sky, a book about the struggles of women and girls in the developing world, was transformed into an online game. According to the author, he thinks the game has more power than his own book when it comes to students: they’re “not just reading about somebody doing something — he’s helping the characters do their actions, he’s helping make these things happen. This generation, it’s all about the interaction. This makes it alive for them.”
I’m a HUGE fan of the online Off Book, a web-original series from PBS Arts that explores cutting edge arts and the artists that make it. Some of the episodes I have enjoyed viewing range from video games to typography, internet memes to steampunk culture. You can access the 45 episodes at the OFFbook website or on its YouTube Channel.
Here are some of the best or at least pretty interesting 5-10 minute videos:
- Dungeons & Dragons and the Influence of Tabletop RPGs: Tabletop RPGs enjoy a cultural resurgence in a digital age.
- The Beauty of Space Photography: Images of space communicate the grandeur of the universe and spark countless curiosities.
- The Future of Wearable Technology: We look into the future to see how tech will become increasingly ingrained in our lives.
- Are Youtubers Revolutionizing Entertainment? OFF BOOK explores the Youtube revolution.
- The Art of Data Visualization: In our digital sage, the practice of data visualization has gained even more importance.
The Verizon Foundation is sponsoring an app development competition called the Verizon Innovative App Challenge that provides the opportunity for middle school and high school students, working with a faculty advisor, to apply their STEM knowledge, ingenuity, and creativity to develop an original mobile app concept that incorporates STEM and addresses a need or problem in their school or community!
Schools can win up to $20K. Last year, they had over 1,000 schools register last year from around the country, with half submitting an app idea and they would like to double that amount this year. The goal of the Challenge is to increase student interest and knowledge in STEM subjects and mobile technology through an engaging and empowering learning experience.
Here’s what the Verizon site says: The Verizon Innovative App Challenge is an exciting, creative and collaborative competition that offers $20,000 grants for winning middle schools and high schools and Samsung Galaxy Tabs for students on the winning teams. Designed to ignite students’ interest in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), the Challenge shows students exciting new possibilities for their futures, opening doors they may never have known were there.
- Working with a faculty advisor in teams of 5 – 7, students develop an original concept for a mobile app that incorporates STEM principles and content and addresses a real need or problem in their school or community. While designing their apps, students consider marketplace need, usefulness, audience and viability. Teams submit their design concepts online through a visual presentation accompanied by an essay.
- One middle school and one high school team from each state will be judged “Best in State” and be eligible for consideration as “Best in Region” winners. Team members will be invited to participate in a live STEM related webinar hosted by the Verizon Foundation.
- Twenty-four (24) Best in Region winners will be selected from the Best in State teams around the country based on the judging rubric. Each of the twenty-four (24) regional winning schools (12 middle school and 12 high school teams) will receive $5,000 cash grants plus virtual support and training to help them build out their app concepts.
- A distinguished panel of STEM educators and corporate innovators will then judge the Best in Region teams’ app concepts and designs based on their online submissions and their presentations during a live webinar. The four (4) top middle school and four top high school teams will be selected and announced as 2014 Verizon Innovative App Challenge winners.
- Each of the eight (8) winning schools (4 middle school and 4 high school teams) will receive $15,000 cash grants plus professional support and training to help them build out their app concepts and bring them to life. Students on each winning team will receive a Samsung Galaxy Tab and be invited to present their developed apps in person – on their new tablets – at the 2014 National Technology Student Association Conference in Washington, D.C. in June, 2014.
- Special recognition will also be awarded for apps which support the Three Pillars of the Verizon Foundation: Education, Healthcare, and Energy Management.
Check out some of the past winners too for inspiration!
Registration opens September 3, 2013 and submissions will be accepted through December 17, 2013
Check out this video tutorial on how to use ViewPure. This free web tool cleans up the extraneous side videos on YouTube that may not be as age-appropriate as the video clip you intend to show in class or send to students for homework. I use it all the time, especially since ViewPure does not change the video or delete captions if it has them; rather, it just clears out the clutter and advertisements from the side.
Here is a before and after look:
Computer Science Education Week is observed each year, in recognition of the birthday of computing pioneer Admiral Grace Murray Hopper (December 9, 1906). This year check out some of the cool ways you can engage your K-12 students with computer coding!
To celebrate Computer Science Education Week (Dec. 9-15), Code.org with the support of Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Apple, the Boys & Girls Clubs, the College Board, the NSTA, NCTM, and dozens of other partners are organizing the largest initiative of its kind: a campaign to get 10 million students of all ages to try computer science for one hour.
What is the Hour of Code? Well, it’s a program or all grade levels, for students who do not need experience in coding!
It’s a one-hour intro to computer science for all ages– on a browser, smartphone, or even “unplugged”. So, Code.org is inviting teachers from all disciplines to host an Hour of Code in US classrooms during Computer Science Education Week.
Code.org will provide tutorials that require no prior experience, featuring lectures by Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates, as well as Angry Birds.
Most students are intimidated by computer science. This campaign is a chance to inspire them to try, and expose all students to skills foundational to success in today’s world. If you’re interested, check out this brochure and this homemade how-to video. See http://hourofcode.com for details
PLUS, every educator who hosts an Hour of Code will get a gift of 10GB of free DropBox storage. And one participating school in every state will win a free class-set of laptops. Just register your school’s participation by Nov. 1 to qualify.
Today I found a great infographic illustrating the positive ways teens are using technology. Created by the excellent PLATFORM FOR GOOD website, the infographic declares, “We’re all familiar with the negative stereotypes associated with young adults and technology. But did you know they’re actually using their devices to make a difference? Stories about young people doing good things online rarely make headlines. That’s surprising to us at A Platform for Good because it’s what we’ve become used to reading and sharing over the last year! So, to showcase some of that good, we created an infographic highlighting the amazing ways Millennials are using technology to make a difference.“
Here’s one example:
This infographic is exactly the type of positive examples of technology use that our school administration will be highlighting next week during our next LREP Conversation: “Allowing Social Media to work FOR students in high school and beyond.”
That session will be presented by Mr. Jeremy Davies, MLHS Principal, and Ms. Nancy Latimer, MLHS Technology Specialist on Tuesday, October 15th at 7:30 pm in the MLHS Media Center. I hope to see you all there!
(Finally, check out other great PLATFORM FOR GOOD resources on their site. I am enjoying their Digital Citizenship flashcards. Here’s how the site describes them: “Help kids get an A+ in digital citizenship this year. These flashcards cover the basics and have conversation starters to get you and your child thinking and talking.”)
Check out the new DIY.ORG, a (free) online community for kids who are part of the Maker movement. It encourages them to share pictures what they’ve made, earn “stickers” or badges for the work, and still gives parents a bit of oversight. Aimed at the elementary school set, the site is free and it features pretty kid-slick graphics.
Here are some of the skills below:
Many of us have a Skype account for personal use. Some of us educators have even adapted it for use in the classroom. Well now “Skype for the Classroom puts traveling, learning alongside students from across the world, and consulting with experts just a couple clicks away. The free tool lets teachers propose lesson plans to other teachers, continents away, that they can connect students through. They can also find guest speakers willing to connect over Skype. Check out a great example of how to use Skype in the Classroom’s free tools in this FastCompany article.”
Thanks to EDsurge, I learned about the incredible free site Brilliant which “is one way to keep your science and math wiz kids regularly engaged and challenged. Students receive challenge problems each week that they complete and then compare against their peers all over the world. They can see where they match up against others based on country and age, and share strategies with others students. The site also hosts competitions involving game theory, writing algorithms, and other fun shenanigans.”
“Levels on Brilliant represent your ability to solve challenging problems in topics like Algebra, Number Theory, and Mechanics. Once you get a level, Brilliant will give you free problems each week at that level. As your problem solving skills improve, we’ll level you up and give you harder problems.”
I don’t want to tell you what my score was, but I’m sure your child will enjoy this great site!