Connecting dots for digital learning and teaching

Play and Learn Weekly – Nov.25th, 2012


What’s happening in the convergence of play and learn?

News

Gamers prove equal to surgeons in operating robotic surgery tools

A new study from the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) has proven the superior hand-eye coordination skills honed from hours of joystick-based gaming are the same talents required to master the world’s most advanced robotic surgery tools. The study sought to identify the developmental effect video games have on training future surgeons. “A new era has started,” explained Sami Kilic, lead author of the study and associate professor and director of minimally invasive gynecology at UTMB.

Kilic notes these observations point to a need for surgical training to adapt to future generations of doctors who will arrive at medical school with an affinity for emerging surgical techniques. “Most physicians in practice today never learned robotic surgery in medical school,” said Kilic. “However, as we see students with enhanced visual-spatial experience and hand-eye coordination that are a result of the technologically-savvy world they are immersed in, we should rethink how best to teach this generation.”

Star Trek Classroom: The next generation of school desks

educational technologyNew results from a 3-year project working with over 400 pupils, mostly 8-10 year olds, show that collaborative learning increases both fluency and flexibility in maths. It also shows that using an interactive ‘smart’ desk can have benefits over doing mathematics on paper.

The findings published in the journal Learning and Instruction, show that children who use a collaborative maths activity in the SynergyNet classroom improve in both mathematical flexibility and fluency, while children working on traditional paper-based activities only improve in flexibility.

The technology allows all students to take part as opposed to one individual dominating.

UNIVERSE SANDBOX – NOW AVAILABLE ON STEAM FOR SCHOOLS

STEAM for SCHOOLS now includes free access to this Astronomy software from software developer Giant Army. Using this powerful gravity simulator, teachers and students can explore and manipulate the galaxy through built-in tutorials and step-by-step activities to truly understand the universe in which we live.

teach with portal

Serious Games As Physics Adventures in Renewable Energy

Steam Greenlight is a system that enlists the community’s help in picking some of the new games to be released on Steam. Developers post information, screenshots, and video for their game and seek a critical mass of community support in order to get selected for distribution. Ludwig is a 3D adventure game on the topic of renewable energies, set in a sci-fi context,for players aged 10 years and older, that offers a new dimension to physics education.

AbleGamers Foundation Releases 2012 Accessible Holiday Gift Guide

The AbleGamers Foundation has released its annual holiday gift guide for those shoppers with loved ones and family members that are gamers who have a disability. This year’s guide, located here, offers nearly a dozen items ranging from technology and peripherals to accessible video games with low prices for those on a tight budget.

Reading, writing and playing games may help aging brains stay healthy

Data analysis revealed significant associations between the frequency of cognitive activity in later life and higher diffusion anisotropy values in the brain. “Several areas throughout the brain, including regions quite important to cognition, showed higher microstructural integrity with more frequent cognitive activity in late life,” said Dr. Arfanakis. “Keeping the brain occupied late in life has positive outcomes.”

Bookmarks

Games: More than Just Reward Systems

For those getting a little tired of the overwrought and oversimplified rhetoric of gamification, here’s a gem from MIT’s Eric Klopfer:

“The fact that they give rewards is maybe #85 on the list of things that games do.”

Games allow players to imagine scenarios, explore worlds, fail, make choices, take risks, fail, learn iteratively, try on different identities, fail, solve puzzles, form groups, think strategically, fail, and find success. Oh and they have points and levels too.

How Gamification Uncovers Nuance In The Learning Process

There are as many pathways to “success” as there are individual personalities; this is a theme of the 21st century. Gamification allows not just for recognition of these ideas, but convincing validation for truly personalized learning. To continue to move towards healthy communities and useful global interdependence, we will need to not simply recognize “different learning styles,” or half-heartedly reward “low-achieving students,” but rather correct the hurtful tradition of overly narrow visions of academic success—a challenge with strict standards and outcomes-based instruction.

Through the creative application of game mechanics—and related innovation in curriculum and instructional design–this is possible, but the discussion must move beyond video games and badges towards notions of learner empowerment, and a nearly-angry broadening of the definition of academic success.

Publication

Systematic review of serious games for medical education and surgical skills training

A total of 25 articles were identified, describing a total of 30 serious games. The games were divided into two categories: those developed for specific educational purposes (17) and commercial games also useful for developing skills relevant to medical personnel (13). Blended and interactive learning by means of serious games may be applied to train both technical and non-technical skills relevant to the surgical field. Games developed or used for this purpose need validation before integration into surgical teaching curricula. Copyright © 2012 British Journal of Surgery Society Ltd. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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“Tell me and I will forget, show me and I may remember, involve me and I will understand.” -------- Chinese Wisdom "Games are the most elevated form of investigation." -------- Albert Einstein
"I'm calling for investments in educational technology that will help create digital tutors that are as effective as personal tutors, educational software as compelling as the best video game," President Barack Obama said while touring a tech-focused Boston school (year 2011).
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