Thursday, December 22, 2016

Educational games - How can I find the best games without having to wade through everything?

I've just completed the MITx: 11.127x: Design and Development of Games for Learning through the edx platform and one of the fabulously helpful things that we learnt about was how to quickly go through the best educational games that are available online.

So, here goes. The following list are the sites I would highly recommend to anyone interested in exploring their options around games in the classroom.

  • Playful Learning is sponsored by The Learning Network and is based in Massachussetts. Its aim is to connect innovative teachers (focusing on intermediate or middle school level, although these choices can quite easily be adapted to a range of levels) nationally who are focusing on the implementation of games in their classroom. Under their "LEARN" category, they have their top picks, organised by: Maths; Social Studies; Science; and English/Language Arts. Highly recommended. They have been selective, so you will be able to quickly see 3-6 games that are highly recommended for the specific curriculum area... and they have started collating some of the pedagogical rationale behind the selection, design of curriculum and implementation of games in the classroom (including an interview with a mathematician =)).
  • The Institute of Play is focused on preparing students for the new global environment through games, game-design and cooperative play. They have developed fantastic games such as GameStar Mechanic (which has free and premium access levels), although all of their projects are here (including things such as print and play games that teach maths and socratic thinking, quest schools and more).
  • Educade has free access once you've registered (which is very pain-free and quick) to a range of lesson plans that can be filtered by subject, year level, tool type (game, app, hands on making/DIY, digital making, website, role-play, augmented reality, simulations, embodied learning and video) and platform. A fabulous range of resources that save a lot of time when you are starting to plan.
  • Common sense education is a group that focuses on digital citizenship. This site is free to register. The three main games are: Digital Passport, Digital Compass and Digital Bytes. There are also sections exploring teaching strategies, Professional Development and an extensive searchable collection of rated apps, ordered by curriculum area, essential skills and some have lesson plans. There is a clear indication whether they are referring to a free or paid resource. As the site is undergoing maintenance at the time of writing this post, I haven't included links to these sections, but I find it an incredibly useful site.
  • Teach with Portals focuses on the game Portal (which is available for free on Steam to educators - The educational version consists of singleplayer mode and the puzzlemaker). There is a range of lesson plans and also a blog that has some very interesting links to webinars and thinking around games in education.
  • MineCraft EDU is a comprehensive site in terms of preparing you as an educator. It starts from downloading the app, as an educator, admin or student. There is a starter kit, a range of training materials, a collection of lesson plans from primary (elementary) through to secondary level, and a collection of starter worlds for use in the classroom.
  • Lure of the Labyrinth is a narrative game that has a series of puzzles with a maths and algebra focus. Highly engaging - the portal for educators steps teachers through the different options, a walkthrough of the game, FAQs, video support, lesson plans, explanations of the math in each puzzle and more.