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April e-ClassNotes

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A Picture Really Is Worth A Thousand Words!

This spring, 80 5th graders at P.S. 32 State Street in Queens, NY are stepping out of their role as student and diving in to play physician’s assistant using a Classroom, Inc. blended learning game. We know that when students are the “boss” of their own learning, amazing things happen. Don’t take our word for it—look at those faces pondering big decisions, writing recommendations for their patients, and solving challenging problems together, all while having fun and building literacy skills.

Games for Learning @ Games for Change

Last week, New York City played host to the 12th Annual Games for Change Festival. For the first time, the event featured the Games for Learning Summit, hosted by the U.S. Department of Education.

A few things resonated with us:

1. Marketplace: No one entity dominates the learning games marketplace right now. If we look to the music industry—and the ways that consumers are now in the driver’s seat through mechanisms like iTunes and Spotify—we can imagine what the marketplace could look like if educators controlled it and used their buying power to demand quality games.

2. Impact and Effectiveness: How much proof will be enough to show the value of game-based learning? It’s the question our entire community must keep top of mind. The learning games industry can start to define impact in ways that can only be uniquely measured through games. (Read about early findings from our latest learning game After the Storm.)

3. Empowering Educators: Games do not replace the teacher. In fact, learning games have the potential to do the exact opposite. Imagine being able to look at a dashboard and watch students—in real time—make decisions and solve problems. The teacher could immediately pose specific challenges, directing them to different paths and activities. The opportunities, if designed right, are infinite.

Read the full post.

Our Expert Educator Friends

One of the most common criticisms directed at the edtech industry is that it doesn’t involve teachers enough in product development and feedback cycles. We are addressing this concern head-on with our Educator Advisory Board. These educators use their expertise to ensure our products are engaging for students and transformative for teachers. Our advisors provide feedback and share best practices to shape our new learning games and programs.

Learn more about our Educator Advisors.

Are You Already Thinking About Summer?

We’re not trying to wish spring away, but we are thinking about all the opportunities to learn and share ideas this summer! You might want to join us at the Games Learning Society Annual Conference in Madison, WI. It’s a meeting of the minds with game developers, researchers, and educators all on board to discuss the intersection of games & learning. And a little shameless promotion: we’re hosting an exciting Playful Learning Workshop, “Examining the Potential of Formative Assessments in Game-Based Learning”, with Jessica Millstone of BrainPOP. Don’t miss out on the fun!

You’re getting a first look at our latest immersive learning game—Community in Crisis, complete with extension and wrap-around project-based activities targeted to 5th and 6th grade. As in all of our games, students are the boss—this time they will run a community service center in the aftermath of the hurricane that destroyed the neighborhood (the same one featured in After the Storm). Students are in charge by directing social workers, financial counselors, and other staff and collect information from in-game text messages, memos, and conversations to make critical decisions.

Debuting summer 2015! Next month, we’ll dive into the instructional paths and how we’re ensuring all levels of readers find success.

What we're reading

Check out the full list of news, blogs, and reports that caught our eye this month in our April RoundUP.

U.S. Dept. of Ed Guide for EdTech Developers: This free guide addresses key questions about the education ecosystem and highlights critical needs and opportunities to develop digital tools and apps for learning. Hint: Not just for edtech developers; it’s a good read for anyone involved in education—from philanthropists to teachers.

Blended Learning Checklist, edSurge: This handy set of questions helps schools and educators think about how they are equipped for all that a strong blended learning environment requires.

Make a Game out of Learning, Slate: There’s an important distinction between game-based learning and gamification. MIT’s Education Arcade leaders Scott Osterweil and Eric Klopfer give us the 101 in this article.

We’re making our plans for various events over the next couple months. Want to meet up with us?

Email: CInewsletter@classroominc.org
Tweet at us: @ClassroomInc

ISTE 2015:
Philadelphia, June 28-July 1
Games Learning Society:
Madison, WI, July 8-10