Update

GlassLab Announces New Tools to Help Games Find Use in Classroom

GlassLab Game Services aims to provide tools to allow for the wider use of games in school.

GlassLab Game Services aims to provide tools to allow for the wider use of games in school.

Tucked in with a major announcement of a new game in partnership with NASA, GlassLab, the collaborative game development shop, unveiled a new set of tools that aims to help producers bring games into the classroom.

The tools, still in their early development, aim to, “improve the transparency of the learning impact of their games and seamlessly get them into the hands of teachers and students,” according to a release.

Jessica Lindl, general manager at the Lab, said the tools grew out of their work hundreds of teachers, administrators, parents and students. The Lab launched SimCtyEDU, its first game using what they call an “assessment engine,” this past fall.

“What we’ve seen through our research, and our experience with SimCityEDU, is that teachers, administrators and parents are excited to bring games into the learning experience,” she told gamesandlearning.org via email. “The promise of engagement drives adoption. But the ultimate benefit of game-based learning tools for these stakeholders is a better understanding of what kids are learning, how they are applying what they learn, and how to help them improve their learning outcomes.”

The tools aim to help developers find a way into school markets by demonstrating their effectiveness and to help school administrators and teachers use games as ways to gauge student learning.

For schools, this means connecting games to the overall concept of “assessment,” the effort to both test student mastery  and the overall effectiveness of the educational program.

According to Lindl, games can play a critical role in this process.

Formative assessment through games is an area of potential that is still largely untapped, and will be the key to this next generation of learning games providing long-term value and driving wider adoption. This includes (1) gathering large amounts of data from game play, (2) aligning this data to critical learning goals for knowledge and skills, and (3) displaying this in a way that is simple and actionable. This is a big challenge for developers, as we discovered through our work with SimCityEDU: it requires a sophisticated learning management system, a powerful learning analytics engine, reporting that is aligned to standards and skills, and the reach and distribution channels to test the product in schools.

Jessica Lindl, General Manager at GlassLab

GlassLab, which is a collaboration of collaboration between Institute of Play, the Entertainment Software Association, Electronic Arts, Educational Testing Service, Pearson’s Center for Digital Data and others, announced on Tuesday it would broaden this effort to include third party producers and announced their first partner in iCivics, the suite of games that teaches government to middle school students.

The two groups, along with their development partner Filament Games, announced they would be working to use their game “Argument Wars” to further refine the producer tools and assessment efforts.

“The game is already a powerful tool for learning,” adds Filament Games CEO Lee Wilson. “We hope that with GlassLab Game Services, we will also be able to tap its potential as a powerful tool for formative assessment and make it even more useful in a classroom setting.”

Lindl, in her comments, agreed that the game would help refine the tools and test their ability to offer these services at scale.

“Argument Wars is already a well-known learning game with over 22 million plays, which puts it in a prime position to test the added value of new formative assessments,” Lindl wrote. “Thousands of teachers have been using Argument Wars for years and their top feature request is to now better understand how kids are learning from the game experience.”

The team is also seeking other developers to develop a beta of the GlassLab Game Services. The beta developers will have access to:

  • Proven distribution channels to reach more teachers and learners in schools;
  • Learning management services to integrate a game easily into a classroom;
  • Learning analytics engine to present actionable data to teachers and learners;
  • And reporting of learning progress aligned to key Common Core standards and 21st Century Skills.

“We’re looking for developers who have a passion for making great games that support students and teachers and improve learning outcomes. We hope to use this opportunity to learn more about and celebrate the innovative work being done by a wide range of developers – we want to hear from you, so please start a converastion,” Lindl said, inviting those developers interested in the beta to reach out to Mat Frenz at mat@glasslabgames.org.

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Lee Banville Lee Banville is editor of Gamesandlearning.org and editorial director of the Games and Learning Publishing Council. He is also an Associate Professor of Journalism at The University of Montana. For 13 years he ran the online and digital operations of the PBS NewsHour, overseeing coverage of domestic and international stories.