Category Archives: Education

Teach your Monster to Read

Teach your Monster to Read

Web based and free. I’ve only watched the video and played the demo. Very cool to see people doing this online, and free. Has anyone used, or your kids used? UK english versus US english seems an issue, with the emphasis on audio and pronunciation?

Teach your Monster to Read: First Steps is a new, free game to practise the first steps of reading.


Combining top quality games design with essential learning, the game is built on the principles of synthetic phonics and follows the teaching sequence of the Letters and Sounds programme.


It has been assessed by reading experts at the University of Roehampton.


An Educator’s Perspective for the Next 50 Years of Video Games

An Educator’s Perspective for the Next 50 Years of Video Games

I highly recommend following John’s blog, and on Twitter at @EduGamRes

Intensive Weeklong Workshop Brings Teachers and Teens Together to Conceive, Design and Develop New Game Concepts

The Learning Games Network is now accepting applications from teachers and students for the 2012 Game Design Boot Camp scheduled for Monday, July 23 to Friday, July 27 on the MIT campus in Cambridge, MA. Qualified teachers and students will be chosen from among applicants to participate in an intensive workshop introducing teachers to new instructional resources and working with them to develop coaching strategies that can be used to guide students through an extended (i.e., quarter- or semester-long) and comprehensive research and creative game design process.

Exploring topical and subject-specific material through game design activities, lesson plans and challenge worksheets, Boot Camp participants combine learning and fun while developing their critical, conceptual, creative, and strategic thinking skills. Teachers will learn how to utilize the Game Design Tool Kit to engage middle and high school students in a game design process that supports learning of important topics and standards across the curriculum. Students attending the Boot Camp will be guided through the early stages of game design, creating a paper prototype and “pitch” presentation for their game concept.

A select group of teachers will work with teams of middle and high school students where each student will be assigned specific roles and responsibilities building on existing skills and interests as they are encouraged to develop new ones. Using the Game Design Tool Kit, teachers will guide their groups through the process of game design from the inception of an idea to the strategic and creative applications that turn a concept into a playable paper game prototype.

The camp offers teachers the opportunity to develop their abilities using a proven teaching method that encourages effective and collaborative relationships while giving them the mechanisms for engaging and energizing students in the development of creativity, communication, collaboration and critical thinking skills. Teachers completing the Boot Camp will receive a Professional Development certificate from the MIT Education Arcade. Students with a strong interest in game design will learn everything from basic conceptual skills to advanced strategizing and will leave the camp with the knowledge needed to begin developing their own video games.

The 2012 Game Design Boot Camp will be facilitated by Learning Games Network and will include expert instructors and designers from the MIT Education Arcade, FableVision (a Boston-based storytelling and interactive development studio) and LGN.

The weeklong workshop will run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday, July 23 through Friday, July 27 and will be held in classrooms on the Cambridge, MA campus of MIT.

Teachers interested in applying, click here for the full application!

Students interested in applying, click here for the full application!

Attendees will be selected based upon criteria outlined in the application materials and will be notified of their acceptance by June 1, 2012.

All applications must be received by Friday, May 18, 2012.

Digital Gaming in Classrooms Seen Gaining Popularity

Digital Gaming in Classrooms Seen Gaining Popularity

The survey, which consisted of responses from a random sample of 505 teachers of those grades across the country in March of this year, found that 50 percent of the teachers reported using digital games in classroom instruction for at least two days a week.

Eighteen percent reported using games daily. Elementary school teachers tended to use digital games more often than middle school teachers did, with 57 percent of K-5 teachers reporting using games compared with 38 percent of middle school teachers.

“We were really surprised by the number of teachers who were using digital games on a very frequent basis,” said Jessica Millstone, a research consultant for the New York City-based Joan Ganz Cooney Center and an adjunct professor at Bank Street College, also in New York.


“It is encouraging for the nascent field and industry of games for learning to see this marketplace expanding. … The real question, though, is are they good games that promote good learning principles?”

They Ain’t Making Any More of Them: The Great Engineering Shortage of 2012

They Ain’t Making Any More of Them: The Great Engineering Shortage of 2012

The gap between computer science need in industry and computer science graduation rates has gotten worse, not better. Interesting numbers, and thoughts about why.

How Gaming Is Changing the Classroom

How Gaming Is Changing the Classroom

By the time she’s 21 years old, a student will play nearly 10,000 hours of video games. But can kids play their way to learning? An increasing number of educators are recognizing that students aren’t responding to old-school lectures, and they’re looking to engage the gamer generation by bringing gaming into the classroom.

10,000 hours is a meme whose significance we’re all familiar with from Gladwell’s Outliers, right? As in what it means, and what opportunity there is, in that first sentence of the article?

Most interesting info and link is to Quest To Learn in NYC.

Massively multiplayer algebra

Raph Koster’s blog entry with that title got me onto this cool find:


Check out Hippasus, an MMO where magic is done via math (shades of DeCamp & Pratt’s Compleat Enchanter). The goal is explicitly to teach math, apparently; you earn power and respect by mastering mathematical concepts in a world that mirrors classical antiquity.

Gotta love a description like this:

Different areas will be culturally, behaviourally, visually, and mathematically distinct to allow for an enhanced user experience.

Here’s the URL to Hippasus:, and below are some highlights from their info. This is interesting from several perspectives that I’ve been discussing in my blog. It takes the educational application of gaming farther than most others yet, since it is an MMO designed and created with a specific educational purpose. This is much different, much more direct, and likely a much easier sell than using a mainstream commercial MMO for educational purposes. It’s also an independently-produced special-purpose MMO – something Raph and I have both been talking about, and something we will be seeing much much more of in the near future. And those highlights about the game:

Project Hippasus is an online, community-oriented massively multiplayer online role playing game (MMORPG) with the explicit purpose of educating its players in various fields of mathematics. Players assume the role of so-called ‘arithmancers’: mages and sorcerers who base their power in fundamental mathematical concepts.

Project Hippasus is a fantasy online role-playing game in which the player takes on the role of a student of magic in a world paralleling classical history. The player undertakes pilgrpics to gain understanding and mastery over the world’s innate magic; learning, perfecting, and creating their own spells. Magic is based off of a logical system with emergent properties. Through the course of the game users are encouraged and helped to develop logical/mathematical skills which allow them to shape their experience as they see fit.

The game takes place in a world that primarily parallels human antiquity. The world will be physically based on a modified Europe, with plans to later expand into Asia and the Americas. The map will include countries inspired by classical Greece, Egypt, and the Indo-Aryan region (Persia and India, notably), 14th century Italy, a Frankish depiction of Germany (5-10th century), and 13-14th century China, along with some amalgamation of Celtic and Norse cultures.
Different areas will be culturally, behaviourally, visually, and mathematically distinct to allow for an enhanced user experience. Characters will be born into different civilizations based on physical traits defined on character creation. A few regions will be determined based on initial physical characteristics, with clothing options and other accessories of those regions being presented to make the final decision on what area to create the character in.
Areas in the world will have different mathematical concepts introduced to the users at different times encouraging exploration and cross-cultural integration as part of the learning experience.

Gaming demographics in Asia

The article in the Korea Herald:

More parents, women play computer games

The data comes from the International Ratings Conference held last month in Sydney. I’d like to see more data from there, but there is some good info about Korea and Australia in the article:

According to Nexon Corp., three out of 10 users of its “Kart Rider” game are women. The fast-paced 3D racing game has attracted nearly 16 million registered users, either paid or non-paid at home, with its various cyber items and cute game characters.

Korean female gamers such as Choi An-na, Lee Jong-mi, Yeom Sun-hee are enjoying as much popularity as their male counterparts. They are challenging the stereotype of PC or online games, traditionally regarded as a domain for teenage boys.

Umm – 16 million Kart Rider users? And the US has never heard of it? I’d bet that puts it in the top 10 computer games of all time, based on sales. I highly recommend clicking to read that article and check out screenshots. There’s info there that is important enough I’ll blog seperately about it later.

Back to the Herald article, here’s a cool quote from a Korean professor:

Kim Yoo-seung, a professor at Sungshin Women’s University who participated at the conference, said, “Consumers are changing their perception of games, which is not very different among countries such as Korea, Australia, the United States or European countries.”

“The Korean government, in line with the diversifying portfolio of the gaming market, should reconsider shifting their focus from regulations to education.”

There’s more data about Australia:

According to Jeffrey E. Brand, associate professor of Communication and Media at Australia’s Bond University, eight out of 10 households enjoy PC games. One-third of gamers are parents who have children aged below 18. Brand conducted a survey on about 4,000 people from 1,600 households in Australia.

“Education” and “conversation with kids” are among the primary purposes of gaming, the survey said. About 67 percent of the parents surveyed said they use games for educational purposes – 73 percent agreed with the usefulness of games in learning the latest technological trends; 69 percent in learning mathematics; 64 percent in teaching children to make and execute plans; and 58 percent in learning science. About 62 percent say games are useful as a trigger for family conversation.

“Education” and “conversation with kids” – there is hope!

Brand said women now make up 41 percent of Australia’s gamers, compared to 38 percent in 2005. If the trend does not regress, the gender ratio among gamers will be 50:50 in 2012, he said.

The average age of Australian gamers rose to 28, compared to last year’s 24. The average age of non-gamers was 49, compared to last year’s 51. Based on the previous statistics, Brand said the average age of gamers and non-gamers will be the same at 42 by about 2014.

Note how rapidly the average age is increasing – from 24 to 28 in one year indicates, just based on mathematical statistics, that most of the growth in gaming is among people considerably older than 24 to 28.

Bill Gates: US needs talent to be competitive

Not quite sure how this appeared in Delaware Online, but here’s the link to the Perspective article by Bill Gates:

U.S. needs talent to be competitive

His strategy is in two parts:

First, we must demand strong schools so that young Americans enter the work force with the math, science and problem-solving skills they need to succeed in the knowledge economy. We must also make it easier for foreign-born scientists and engineers to work for U.S. companies.

It’s clearly an uphill battle for Gates or anyone else to fix our school system from the outside. He’s in the powerful position of running a non-profit with billions of dollars to spend on the problem, fortunately. No one likes to hear criticism, but:

Education has always been the gateway to a better life in this country, and our primary and secondary schools were long considered the world’s best. But on an international math test in 2003, U.S. high school students ranked 24th out of 29 industrialized nations surveyed.

On what companies can do:

Companies must advocate for strong education policies and work with schools to foster interest in science and mathematics and to provide an education that is relevant to the needs of business. Government must work with educators to reform schools and improve educational excellence.

How about some more help with visibility and curriculum materials around Phrogram, Mr. Gates? It’s technology that’s addressing and improving STEM education in schools today (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math). All it needs to do so more quickly is some help getting it into the hands of teachers and students more quickly. 🙂

Phrogram’s relevance is confirmed by his article – though I want to emphasize it is useful for FAR more than just Computer Science education:

This issue has reached a crisis point. Computer science employment is growing by nearly 100,000 jobs annually. But at the same time studies show that there is a dramatic decline in the number of students graduating with computer science degrees.

Here’s a Washington Post article from him as well, from 10 days ago:

How to Keep America Competitive

And another from Seattle Times:

Gates “appalled” by high schools

Here’s a Google News query showing 770 recent articles about him and the topic of education. That’s as of March 4th. It’s simple data to watch how many articles result from that query week by week; I’ll keep an eye on it.

Gender, Lies and Video Games: Women and Computer Sciences

I’m attending and presenting at Microsoft’s Academic Days on Game Development in Computer Science conference through Sunday. It’s a conference on a cruise ship, actually, from Disney, Orlando to Nassau, Bahamas and back. Nice schwing, eh?

The first talk this morning was by Maria Klawe, now President of Harvey Mudd College, and with quite a resume in mathematics and computer science education. Her talk this morning was titled “Games, Gender and Why It Matters.” She presented the most detailed research I’ve seen on the issue, and in fact has spent decades working on it. I will try to get copies of her slides, but I was able to find this Research Channel video she recorded at UW a couple of years ago, Gender, Lies and Video Games: Women and Computer Sciences. It won’t have her latest input on the importance and brilliance of the Wii actually marketing to girls and women. Gasp! That’s crazy! Only guys buy games! Yeah, well, that’s only one bit of Wii brilliance, isn’t it? Actually think about the over-half-the-population who are female, charge half as much as the other guys, add a world-changing Wiimote, and suddenly it’s not just Sony versus Microsoft any more. I digress – but it really is a riff on how she ended her talk.

I will try to get the recording or slideshow from here, but meanwhile I expect this recording will be interesting to anyone who thinks the topic is important.