Articles Posted in Games for Learning

Watching my kids play World of Warcraft in 2005,  I had a moment of clarity about video games and learning.  At root WoW is a Learning Management System (LMS) with Orcs and dragons in the presentation layer.  But grokking that potential and translating it into improved outcomes in school is a huge leap.

Connecting developmental psychology, brain science, and play is critical to seeing the whole picture. The Game Believes In You does just that.

Ten years ago, after reading Jim Gee’s What Videogames Have to Teach Us About Literacy and Learning , Raph Kosters A Theory of Fun for Game Design, Katie Salen and Eric Zimmerman’s Rules of Play, and Steven Johnson’s Everything Bad is Good For You I had exhausted the canon of the early aughts.

FilamentLogoI’m jazzed to report that I started as Filament Games’ new CEO this week. I consider Filament the global leader in crafting learning games with an emphasis on the classroom. Over the past eight years Filament has worked with more than 40 organizations, built over 50 learning games, and won numerous awards. It is a very cool company doing important work.

Long time readers know that I am passionate about tackling the power of games for formal learning (see the Serious Games thread), so this is a natural move.

The learning games space is experiencing a boom – more than half of the most recent SBIR grants from the DOE were for cutting edge learning games. Filament was one of the awardees. Games are a bright spot in a troubled industry.

088My guess is that if you are in the office today you aren’t all that busy. So take 7 minutes and watch this great little video, particularly if you are skeptic about video games and learning.

Video – Tangential Learning

His central point, that a well designed game experience tees up personally directed learning actually extends far beyond games.

4567uetudthjgfjhgIn “Four years into the ebook revolution: things we know and things we don’t know” Mike Shatzkin does a great job of summarizing the state of the trade publishing business. Education Publishers take note – this is your future.

In “Predicting Player Behavior and How Zynga Profits From Data Analysis” John Rice picks apart the Wall St. Journal’s article (paywall) with an eye to education. Talk about data driven business models is all the rage in EdTech – this is what it really looks like. Money quote:

“We feel that a purely data-driven approach has significant promise for creating accurate predictive models of player behavior in games without the difficulties associated with earlier modeling techniques.”

Stephen Coller at the Gates Foundation has a new blog Forking Education about their open source work on the Shared Learning Infrastructure (SLI), the Learning Resources Metadata Initiative (LRMI), and Learning Maps among other things. I’m not sure if the title is meant to evoke poking a fork to stir things up or if it is a bad pun.

level-32-nerdThere are bad ideas that become iconic for every era because they were popular fads. Pet Rocks, the Pacer, Supply Side Economics, and .com groceries all come to mind.

Looking back we all scratch our heads and wonder – why?

Gamification, ripping the reward and recognition systems out of video games and applying them to behavioral modification is likely to stand in for our current times in the future.

Deadrising_boxartMy 17 year old son is in the other room using a kayak paddle with chain saws attached at either end to slice zombies in half. I’m sitting here minding my own business when out of the blue he says “Dad, this game is great for teaching time management skills.”

In Dead Rising you have 72 hours in a zombie infested town to build a bike, rescue your daughter, and escape the military. Along the way anything you find can be weaponized against the slow moving brain noshers. Shovels, gasoline, saw blades, pitchforks, shotguns, drills, buckets, are among the things that can be combined in new and amazing ways. Yes, even a stuffed moose head.

Call me a proud papa – this concept was coming from a teen who is wrestling with time management (i.e. he gets A’s when does the damn work which isn’t often enough). The fact that he was metacogizant of this while playing astounded and pleased me.

IMG_4955.jpgI’ll be reviewing the findings of the white paper I wrote for SIIA on Best Practices for Implementing Games & Simulations in the Classroom today at 4 ET (corrected). The webinar and the paper are free.

We interviewed teachers, administrators, and vendors who have successfully implemented edugames and distilled the lessons they learned about how to sell the idea, how to prepare, and classroom management issues. It is a very practical hands on look at this arena and has implications for educators and people designing edugames.

The webinar is part of EdWeb’s lively Game Based Learning Community (500+ members). It is the first in a series of webinars with luminaries like Jim Bower, Chris Dede, and Dan Norton.

bookres-lamp-20110216-094132What is good product development? The answer is deceptively simple to answer and devilishly difficult to pull off. Basically people want three things – better, faster, cheaper. All the complicated analysis in the world boils down to these three fundamentals. Get them right and your odds of success go way up.

You need to nail at least two of them, preferably all three. You need hard evidence to prove you are doing them – and the definition of success must be from the customer’s perspective.

While it is easy to see how this plays out in technology (better/cheaper = iPad 1 vs laptop, better/faster = iPad2 vs iPad 1, cheaper/faster = Netbooks vs. iPad) it is more difficult to suss out what this means in education.

56u6u6uEd Note: One of my favorite thinkers and practitioners on engaging kids deeply with Math and Science is Jim Bower. Jim is that rare combination of theorist and practitioner who is successful in both realms. He is both a Professor of Neuroscience at UTSA and the Founder/CEO of, arguably the stickiest web destination for learning ever created.

Jim has strong opinions, but he has earned the right to hold them through deep thinking and risk taking that applies his theories successfully in the real/virtual world.

Please invest the time to read Jim’s post where he challenges us to see why the web is making us smarter, not dumber. The TEDx video then answers the question of exactly how you do this.