U.S. Department of Education just blogged about their support of game-based learning because well-designed games can motivate students to actively engage in meaningful and challenging tasks, and through this process to learn content and sharpen critical-thinking and problem-solving skills.
The Department’s research arm, the Institute of Education Sciences (IES), recently announced a new round of awards through its Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program, including several awards that focus on the development of game-based learning education technology products. This year the program made 11 new Phase I awards (eight of which are for games) of up to $150,000 to support the development and research of commercially viable education technology products intended to support student outcomes in regular and special education settings.
In this first phase, awardees will develop prototypes of their products and conduct research on their feasibility. A second round of competitively funded awards will be made in 2013 for awardees to further develop these prototypes into marketable products and conduct additional research in schools. Awards for Phase II will be in amounts up to $900,000 for two years. For abstracts for all of the projects, please click here.
Even before the Phase I awards were announced in June, the IES SBIR program has invested in several projects that use games to support student learning. Below are details on three such projects.
3 examples of such projects are given :
I. Sokikom – web-based set of math games in social learning environment for elementary schools (Edmodo App available)
Results of a pilot study demonstrated that after one month of play by students in two 3rd grade classrooms, the technology worked as planned, and students were engaged when playing the game. Compared to a control group of two classrooms that followed regular instruction and didn’t play games, game play was associated with higher scores on end-of-unit math tests. Since the product launched in 2011, Sokikom has been used by schools and students in all 50 states.
Free pilot program is offered through the end of 2012:
We are offering FREE student subscription upgrades to teachers through the end of the 2012 school year, and possibly even beyond that. For the time being, we aren’t putting any limits to the number of student upgrades so feel free to add as many students as you like–your entire classroom, school, or district!
Classroom management, Avatar customization and reporting are all free.
II. Game-enhanced Interactive Life Science (GILS) – a set of five web-based life science games designed to facilitate conceptual understandings of the scientific inquiry process among middle school students
Research is currently underway to examine teachers’ best practices as they implement the games and to assess the promise of the games to improve student learning.
This project is developed by Filament Games – a game production studio that exclusively creates learning games. Filament has developed over 50 educational games for clients ranging from National Geographic’s JASON Science to Justice Sandra Day O’Connor’s iCivics Inc. (almost all are free to play online)
III. Zoo U – a web-based environment for elementary students to engage with pedagogical agents (animated life-like characters) to solve tailored, social-problem-solving tasks
For information on the program, and for video demos of more than 20 products supported by this program, click here or this picture.
For weekly briefing on game-based learning news, check out this category: Play and Learn Weekly.