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What’s New in Game-based Learning – March 2022

We’ve made it to March, which means we’ve almost made it out of the winter! Punxsutawney Phil did predict six more weeks of winter last month, but regardless, we’re thinking positive and warm thoughts this month!

via Giphy

Okay, we get it, Phil, your word is final. More winter it is. However, we can’t help feeling especially warm about all of the recent goings-on in the realm of game-based learning. This round-up demonstrates the positive impact of serious games on subjects ranging from the current state of our environment to historical figures who are finally getting the accolades they deserve! Get comfortable, make like Phil and burrow (in a couple of blankets), and read on for all of the latest and greatest in game-based learning news.

Video Games, Speech Recognition Hold Promise as Ed Tech (Government Technology)

The U.S. Department of Education recently gave researchers at the University of Missouri $12 million in grants. Whew, that’s a lot of cash – what’s it going to be used for? According to James Laffey, a professor emeritus in the College of Education and Human Development, $8 million of the grant money will be put towards a game called Mission HydroSci, which teaches players all about water flow, groundwater, atmospheric water, and water contamination. The game is being revamped from a previous 2014 version. Laffey told GovTech that he hopes that this game will eventually lead to the expansion of game-based learning offerings for K-12 students, and explained that during the initial testing of the game, teachers observed “‘… kids who typically were not very engaged in science education became engaged.’” That’s the power of game-based learning for you! Learn more about Mission HydroSci in the video below.

Blackistory, a Milwaukee-born, game-based app, aims to teach Black history (Radio Milwaukee)

For Deborah Clements Blanks, what started as a way to teach her son about Black history turned into a game-based learning experience for students far and wide! Inspired by the way Blanks’ mother used to teach her students, Blanks created a quiz-based app called Blackistory, where students can learn more about everything from the achievements to the culture to the experiences of Black historical figures, creators, and leaders in America. Blanks noted that her inspiration and motivation when creating the app came from “‘…all the richness of our culture, our history and how everyday people stand up to take care of their children and contribute to their community. We have history makers among us that aren’t often acknowledged.’” Download Blackistory on the App Store, and learn more about the creation of the app in the video below!

Historical Video Games Have Promise—but Only If They’re Honest (Wired) 

From the Oregon Trail to the present, freelance writer Geoffrey Bunting covers why video games are potent learning tools for history education, as they place a player back in time in ways textbooks cannot. Bunting also points out that “Unlike academic curricula, games also have more freedom to explore ideas that history students might not encounter.” This makes room for a wider array of stories to tell, but those stories aren’t always told as they should be. He also notes that while larger studios may put historical accuracy aside for marketability, indie studios may have a unique opportunity to tap into honest and accurate historical retellings. Overall, Bunting surveys video games’ unique strengths and pitfalls when it comes to learning about the past, and why it matters who makes these games, too. It’s impossible to summarize every point in this thought-provoking piece in just a paragraph, so be sure to check it out for yourself! 

How Minecraft Is Teaching Kids to Face the Threat of Climate Change (CNET) 

For young students, learning about climate change can range from overwhelming to terrifying. A great method to meet students where they are so they can learn about a big concept? Video games! This is why teachers like Warwick Goodsell have been teaching their students about geographical concepts like erosion, pollution, and urban planning on Minecraft: Education Edition for years now. Minecraft is a game many students are already familiar with, and learning about the environment with Minecraft has uses outside of the classroom as well. In 2021, an Australian company called NRMA Insurance released Climate Warriors, which teaches players how to keep themselves safe from bushfires. Learn more about climate science education with Minecraft in this article, including how the game also helps students build soft skills and future-facing skills!

New Immersive Simulator Lets Game Players Reimagine Land Use Based on Real Science (University of Wisconsin)

Minecraft isn’t the only game bringing an immersive climate science learning experience to the classroom! Recently, researchers at UW-Madison collaborated with Mass Audubon, a conversation nonprofit to launch a free game called iPlan. Created utilizing state and federal data, this simulation for high school and middle school students allows players to see how zoning choices affect the surrounding environment and the community. Of the game, lead developer Andrew Ruiz stated “‘Every land-use decision has impacts. The extent to which you prioritize different impacts is a social question. It’s about what people value and what they care about. The simulation is designed to model that.’” Play iPlan for free here!

via wisconsin.edu

Are you enthused about any educational gaming, games for impact, or AR/VR for learning news we didn’t include here? Let us know on Twitter or Facebook!

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