National / International News

How to make an educational game kids want to play

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2015-03-12 04:05

There are plenty of serious conversations taking place this week at SXSWedu in Austin — student data, social learning, digital citizenship, online degrees.

But there is also a lot of serious talk about games, and how they can be used to help engage kids and improve learning. In 2013, the market for educational games was about $1.5 billion and growing rapidly. 

Rule No. 1: No chocolate-covered broccoli. That’s according to Phaedra Boinodiris, global lead for serious games and gamification at IBM. 

“You enter into the realm of what I call ‘chocolate-covered broccoli’ if you do it wrong,” she says. 

To Boinodiris, chocolate-covered broccoli is the thinly disguised, anti-fun. In other words, educational games still need to feel likes games. And that means something at stake, something to win. 

"Brain Chase" is an online educational treasure hunt for kids to complete over the summer, using geography and math skills to find a real “buried treasure”: a $10,000 scholarship. 

Founder Allan Staker says violence isn’t an option in educational games, so developers have to rely on something else to keep kids interested. 

“You have to start with a quest, get them in the shoes of a protagonist,” he says.

During the Brain Chase game, participants had to use a compass, map and clues from video prompts to help their fellow adventurers escape a cryptic hedge maze.

Kelsey Fowler/Marketplace Without having “Grand Theft Middle School,” Staker says, the answer is unsurprisingly, treasure.

Paul Darvasi, a high school English teacher in Toronto, says during the last month of the year, he turns his class into the psych ward from Ken Kesey’s “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.” 

“My students are put into the role of mental patients, and I take on multiple roles either through videos, or live performances as the faculty that’s running the mental ward,” he says. 

Darvasi uses Twitter and Facebook to post challenges, questions and quests for his students. 

“A really interesting thing about Keasy’s novel is his critique of the industrial elements of the mental institution coincide well with the critiques of the education system,” he says.

Shawn Young shows off his creation Classcraft, a role-playing game designed to increase collaboration and engagement in the classroom.

Courtesy of Classcraft

Brothers Shawn and Devin Young of the role-playing game "Classcraft" say introducing games into the classroom faces the same challenges introducing new technology in schools has always faced: finding the money in the budget.

“There are a lot of great, empowering things about video games and using them to motivate and learn,” Shawn Young says.

Somali militants raid government base

BBC - Thu, 2015-03-12 04:03
At least eight people are killed in an attack by suspected al-Shabab militants on a fortified government compound in the town of Baidoa, southern Somalia.

Ditching The Common Core Brings A Big Test For Indiana

NPR News - Thu, 2015-03-12 04:03

After dropping the Common Core State Standards and agreeing to write its own end-of-year exam, Indiana's had a rough couple of months.

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VIDEO: European Scrutiny Committee

BBC - Thu, 2015-03-12 04:01
MPs take evidence from the BBC on the media and European scrutiny.

Security alert in Army barracks

BBC - Thu, 2015-03-12 03:48
A security alert is under way in Thiepval Barracks in Lisburn.

What are the UK's new trains like?

BBC - Thu, 2015-03-12 03:40
What are the UK's new high-speed trains like?

Homegrown tea served in Scots hotel

BBC - Thu, 2015-03-12 03:35
Edinburgh's five-star Balmoral Hotel is to serve Scotland's first cup of homegrown tea - from a plantation in Perthshire.

Ainslie signs ex-F1 boss Whitmarsh

BBC - Thu, 2015-03-12 03:34
Former McLaren Formula 1 team boss Martin Whitmarsh joins Sir Ben Ainslie's team for an America's Cup sailing challenge.

Chief says 'mistakes caused disaster'

BBC - Thu, 2015-03-12 03:21
The match commander at Hillsborough agrees he was "incompetent" and says his "mistakes" and "oversight" caused the deaths of 96 fans.

Iraqi Force Makes More Gains Toward Taking Tikrit From ISIS

NPR News - Thu, 2015-03-12 03:21

Iraqi Defense Minister Khaled al-Obeidi visited Tikrit's province Thursday, saying on state TV that the next phase of the operation is "critical" to the effort to control the strategic city.

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Undercover police inquiry to be held

BBC - Thu, 2015-03-12 03:19
An inquiry into undercover policing and the operation of the Metropolitan Police's Special Demonstration Squad is being established by the home secretary.

'Flying balls' fear prompts fan ban

BBC - Thu, 2015-03-12 03:14
Young football fans are banned from the lower tiers of Ipswich Town's ground after children were hit by "flying balls", the club says.

Woman 'dragged' under Tube train

BBC - Thu, 2015-03-12 03:10
A woman was "dragged" under a Tube train at a south London Tube station during the morning rush hour, commuters say.

VIDEO: In hiding because of a costume

BBC - Thu, 2015-03-12 03:06
An Afghan artist has been forced into hiding after receiving death threats for dressing in a metal suit showing the female form.

Golf champ jailed for benefit fraud

BBC - Thu, 2015-03-12 03:03
A champion golfer who claimed £26,000 in benefits saying he was too ill to walk but played the sport regularly is jailed for six months years.

Philip Green sells off BHS chain

BBC - Thu, 2015-03-12 02:55
Sir Philip Green is has sold the department store chain BHS to an investment vehicle called Retail Acquisitions Ltd.

'Giant lobster' ate like a whale

BBC - Thu, 2015-03-12 02:55
A new fossil discovery shows that a giant ancestor of modern lobsters used spiny 'limbs' on its head to sift food from the ocean.

Inquest into Brecon crash deaths due

BBC - Thu, 2015-03-12 02:51
An inquest into the deaths of four people killed in a crash in Powys is expected to open.

Zimbabwe expelled from 2018 World Cup

BBC - Thu, 2015-03-12 02:49
Zimbabwe are expelled from 2018 World Cup qualifying for failing to pay national team coach Jose Claudinei Georgini.

South Africa power chiefs suspended

BBC - Thu, 2015-03-12 02:43
South Africa's power utility Eskom tells four top officials to step aside while it investigates the problems at the firm, including recent power cuts.