Bookmark and Share

"Education On Demand Within Your Hands" 




JUNE 3, 2011

The Educational Possibilities of Games and Simulations

By: Christopher Hill in Teaching with Technology

In an interview with Distance Education Report, award-winning author and designer Clark Aldrich discussed the educational possibilities of virtual simulations and games. Because there was great interest in recent articles on gaming (see What Games Teach Us About Education), we’re rerunning a portion of the interview here.

Q: Are simulations, games and virtual worlds more useful in training, or for education?

Aldrich: Sims, games, and virtual worlds are useful for any organization that wants to develop competence and conviction in students. One of the earliest examples is a flight simulator, which not only taught basic actions to pilots such as flaps and radio control, but also how to avoid situations where the intuitive answer, such as pulling up hard on the stick when the airplane was in a dive, was the absolute wrong option. And they had to teach the newbie pilots in a way that would stick in the most stressful situation imaginable. This is what it means to teach for conviction, rather than just compliance.

So they’re good at teaching how to do certain actions. But the much greater opportunity is learning how to have control in non-intuitive, complex situations such as project management, leadership, stewardship, long term planning, relationship management, and many others.

Q: What part of pedagogical practice lends itself the most effectively to games, sims and virtual worlds?

Aldrich: Sims require an entirely new pedagogical framework. Many of us have grown up with pedagogies aimed at helping students learn “how to know,” including lectures and papers. But we are increasingly going to use sims to develop in students the ability to learn “how to do.” We are going to have to build up in students abilities that will eventually have to be improvised in a variety of new situations. This means borrowing techniques from sports, from the military, and even from computer games to carefully build up competencies, both intrinsic and extrinsic.

This pedagogy is “practice-intensive” and requires careful level design. Likewise, we are seeing situations where students can learn something without ever being explicitly taught.

Q: In what type of academic scenario are games, sims and virtual world most frequently found today, i.e., community college, public universities, small private schools, corporate campuses?

Aldrich: There are individual professors who are championing them everywhere. But the organizations that are committed to them broadly tend to be universities that have been accredited within the last fifteen years. They do not have the legacy of books and lectures, and they are starting from scratch rethinking content, and they look to sims as a critical part of transferable learning. Distance universities have found that sims replace and improve upon the interactions in face to face institutions.

Q: Is there a danger that some educators will adopt games, sims and virtual worlds simply because they’re popular with young people?

Aldrich: Popularity is fickle and a fast moving target. It is also reasonable to assume that popularity with kids means some degree of counter-culture, which by definition class content cannot be.

Likewise, fun is not a sufficient end goal for any sim. Fun is just too subjective. Having said that, during the roll-out of a new environment, there is a use for “play.” For example, if I were bringing students into a virtual world, after they got comfortable with the three skills of manipulate, navigate, and communicate, I would set up some light games with few rules and maybe some opportunities for competition and self expression. This “fun” is a critical stage, but it has to be followed by rigorous challenges.



This Video Game Is So Educational You Don’t Even Realize It



The term ‘gamification’ doesn’t do the new video game Ludwig justice. It takes the most cutting-edge graphics and couples them with some of the most important lessons a student needs. The creators of Ludwig delivered a TEDx talk (below) that unveils a bit more information on why and how they built the epic game.

Most importantly, this video game is a glimpse into the future of video games. It’s certainly not the first but definitely not the last video game that makes learning, well, fun. Ludwig is currently trying to get listed on the popular Steam platform (support it here if interested) where it could reach a much larger audience.

The Plot

2098. Mankind has left the Earth and is now living in space colonies. Ludwig, a research robot from a faraway civilisation and his spaceship are looking for forms of new energy. Unfortunately, mankind´s new space colonies are not listed on his interstellar maps, which results in a fatefull crash with the physis, the biggest station with a billion inhabitants. The crash does not only tear a huge hole into the physis´ protective cover, but also damages Ludwig´s spaceship badly enough for him to loose control of it and crashland on planet Earth. Now it´s a race against time.

What The Game Is About

  • The game tells the story of “Ludwig” – a small research robot who is on an important mission to find new forms of energy for the home planet of the Robotronics. After a long journey he finally reaches earth – just to find it abendoned. Humans exhausted nearly all energy sources and left the planet. They live in big space stations. Unfortunately Ludwig hits one of these spacestations with his spaceship and crashes down on earth. A damaged spaceship, a far away homeplanet in desperate need of energy know-how and 1 billion humans in a damaged spacestation – now it´s up to you as a player to clean up this mess!
  • While following the storyline Ludwig has to learn about the human technologies on earth. Starting with the most basic form of energy production – combustion – he has to advance through a techtree to find and learn about more sophisticated forms of renewable energy.
  • Ludwig doesn´t know anything about the laws of physics on earth (remember – he´s an alien from a far away robot civilization called the Robotronics…). So he uses his scanner to find and analyse physical phenomenons which appear in the gameworld. All the knowledge is stored in a dynamical conceptmap – the knowledgebase.
  • The knowledgebase is empty when you start the game. While playing, it fills step by step with new nodes. You will end up with a huge concept map of physical knowledge on renewable energies. (developed together with physics teachers and educators).
  • The game features 4 unique “themeworlds”. These quests in these environments are based on a specific topic (combustion, water power, wind energy, solar energy). The themeworlds are connected by the storyline.
  • Every themeworld features a minigame – called laboratory. A laboratory illustrates the core knowledge of the themeworld (for example: How does a pumped storage power station work? or Where should i place my windmills to get the most efficient energy output?
  • All this educational gameplay is nicely embedded in the storyline. The game is NOT devided into playing- and learning- or assesment elements. You always KEEP PLAYING the game!
  • Ludwig is designed to be fun to play (please judge for yourself ;-) but it can also be played in schools. The game comes along with a set of didactical materials for teachers to support embedding Ludwig in classes.

But the game is available right now. You can download it here. The full game is not free, but there are lots of free demos and videos so you know what you’ll be getting.

TEDx Talk

Game Trailer


What Are The Best Games For iPad?

There is a fantastic reason why gaming is the most popular category in the App Store, that being the sheer volume of great releases. Titles that are so good they will transform your iPad into a games console that can stand up against any competition. For this feature we will be taking a look at the very best releases that are currently available for the iPad, with each one being an amazing addition to your collection. And what the best games for iPad

Angry Birds HD

Angry Birds HD for iPad

About Angry Bird For iPad

Angry Birds HD is a big game, not simply in terms of popularity, but also in lifespan there are currently 255 levels – spread over six themed stages – within the game (With regular additions via updates) to explore and destroy! Yet when you play for the first time only the very first level is unlocked, complete it and the next level will be unlocked and so on. When you finish a level you will be awarded a score based upon the amount of pigs popped, carnage caused and the number of birds used this total will be ranked via an one to three star rating. Hardly inventive yet you will replay each level over and over to get the top three star rating, thanks to the fantastically addictive gameplay.

Gameplay wise, you begin each level in control of a slingshot loaded up with one of a variety of the annoyed avians ready to be launched into the structures containing your hog targets head of you! As you progress into the game you will run into different kinds of structures protecting the pigs as well as new varieties of birds each with unique abilities. Understanding and maximizing these differing special abilities are essential in progression to later stages, it is not enough that one of your feathered friends explodes or another that divides into three with a tap of the screen. Huge levels of unexpected strategy is required to claim the top ratings. Be it learning which surfaces and materials are most venerable to which variety of bird, studying the structure as a whole to discover a single hit weak point or thanks to the new update using the background environment as an offensive weapon! So while the gameplay may feel simple and the cartoon visual style may been off putting to those looking for a more contemporary, yet the overall experience is one that is impossible to put down and far deeper than one would expect and one that all should embrace with a large smile!

Thus what you honestly intend to be a quickly play turns into an epic session, as you chase the three star rating and those allusive achievements to claim the coveted 100% complete rating or simply climb the international leader-boards via the Game Centre links. Alas serious gamers would be so pleased with the additional of a feature that will delight the casual player, the Mighty Eagle. If you find yourself stuck on a stage for a small price you can simply buy a three star rating and a ticket to the next stage. We can understand the addition from a player and business stand point but will admit it does cheapen the sense of achievement somewhat!

Beneath the cartoon surface lurks a fiendishly addictive game that will grab you and won’t let go

The Best Games For iPad – The concept is simple and yet contains huge depth rendering it easy to get started and yet difficult to put down, not to mention master. Having watched not only the game itself but the franchise as a whole develop and grow, if you ignore the in your face merchandising and product placement such growth and popularity brings, Angry Birds still ticks all the boxes, ignoring the Mighty Eagle, it is a game that will appeal to all ages and abilities. Beneath the cartoon surface lurks a fiendishly addictive game that will grab you and won’t let go, even when all stars, bonus and achievements have been unlocked! Why? At it’s heartAngry Birds for iPad is amazingly fun to play! We have been playing this game since launch and greet every new update with the same level of excitement and anticipation as we did when we first downloaded. Now how many games can claim that?

What the next best games for iPad?

Apple Store | Angry Birds HD for iPad


Cut The Rope HD

Cut The Rope HD iPad for iPad

About Cut The Rope For iPad

There’s a little green monster who lives at the bottom of your iPad and he’s just about the cutest little monster you ever did see. Om Nom is his name, and he’s rather hungry, famished in fact, and if you don’t feed him up pronto he might just waste away. You don’t want that on your conscience, right?

Cue 100 levels of rope-swingy, physics-based puzzle gameplay that will keep you well entertained. The basic idea is to sweep your finger across the screen to cut ropes (hence the title) and drop suspended sweets into the hungry Om Nom’s mouth. However there’s a more to it than that with stars to collect which are required to open up new worlds of which there are four in total. The addition of the Magic Box stage gives the gameplay a whole new and much needed twist. With its spell binding head gear seemingly not bound by the laws of physics, what was once puzzling is now a real test on your grey matter as you have to think beyond the rules of gravity. Mind bogglingly fun and then some!

The Best Games For iPad – This finely balanced and highly addictive puzzle gameplay will keep you going to the end and it’s an ideal game to dip in and out of. The one downside is you’ll probably have it beaten fairly quickly but new levels are promised in the future and it’s excellent fun while it lasts.

Apple Store | Cut The Rope HD for iPad


Real Racing 2 HD

Real Racing 2 HD for iPad

About Real Racing For iPad

After the original Real Racing brought near console quality racing to the iPhone, this $2milion price tag wearing sequel is a shining example of just what can be accomplished on iPhone. It’s instantly clear to see where all that monster budget went. 30 fully licensed cars, 15 locations, 40 miles of track and up to 16 cars racing simultaneously during online play are impressive numbers indeed.

Graphically it’s magnificent with solid, smooth backdrops, seamless visual effects and even some cool damage modeling on the cars. No expense has been spared on the mechanics either. A host of customizable driving aids area included enabling it to be played as an arcade blast, a true simulation or many shades of grey in between.

A stunningly smooth online multi-player experience, a well rounded and surprisingly deep career mode and wealth of customization options rounds everything out perfectly and ensuresReal Racing 2 will provide many month’s worth of entertainment.

The Best Games For iPad – This is a highly polished and thoroughly entertaining game which sets the standard for iPad racing games. It’s as close as we’ve yet come to a true console racing experience akin to Forza or Gran Turismo on a portable device and one that set a very high standard for any new releases that enter on to the iOS starting grid. A real contender for the crown of best mobile racing game around!

Apple Store | Real Racing 2 HD for iPad


N.O.V.A 2 – Near Orbit Vanguard Alliance

 N.O.V.A.2 for iPad

About N.O.V.A.2

We have seen a lot of games that have attempted to take on the iPad’s very unbalanced First Person Shooter (FPS) genre, but very few that have succeeded in being more than just eye candy whose appeal is virtually destroyed by a poor undeveloped control interface. Thankfully what you get with Gameloft’s N.O.V.A 2 – Near Orbit Vanguard Alliance is a game with an immersive story driven single player experience, great user interface, a vast armoury of weapons and a stunning online multi-player mode!

One thing is for sure though, from the opening movie all the way down to the little details within the levels, a lot of work went into making this game look and fell downright glorious?

Once you get through the opening screens you will be taken to the main menu. The menu is laid out very well. All of the options are useful yet one of the best features of this app is the versatile control scheme settings. While most games offer some type of customization , N.O.V.A offers a wide variety of options from sensitivity control, to a “left handed mode” and three different control schemes.

There are a variety of other options that you can customize. Some of the most prominent ones area an “Auto leveling” feature, “Aim assist”, a “Compass” feature that will help guide you through the levels if you are impatient.

Once you have everything set just right you can either get started on the single player campaign or head straight to multi-player! The single player campaign offers 12 levels with varying terrain and enemies. We were very impressed with how much fun it really is. There are three different difficulty levels that allow anyone to enjoy this game without getting too frustrated. While the levels do feel a little linear and often constrained, the variety of enemies, both visually and technically, and the weaponry available to dispatch them offers more than enough motivation to play. Yet add in a vehicle based sections and huge boss battles and you find yourself with little motivation to do anything else rather than play!

The online multi-player is a lot of fun! Taking on a total of 10 opponents is as exciting as you would imagine, although the ranking system does feel a little off, as we were instantly thrown into battle with players vastly our betters. With much practice we soon managed to hold our own but as a first time player we would advise you to prepare to die, a lot! The maps are packed with all kinds of great weapons and power-ups which add a lot to the gameplay, adding in the Peaks system that rewards online play and you have one of the best multi-player experiences to be found on the iPad.

The Best Games For iPad – N.O.V.A 2 has really set the bar high for the iPad’s story driven FPS games, excelling over the highly praised original in all areas! Fans of the genre will find a game that captures the look and feel of it’s console and PC counterparts, albeit that one can fit into your pocket. These fans will relish in the solid and smooth multi-player modes and take great delight in dealing hot lead to the rest of the planet. No comers to the genre will to find much to embrace and ultimately adore once the hooks have sunk in, a fantastic example of just how much can be achieved on the iPad platform. If only all games could be this complete and highly polished!

Apple Store | N.O.V.A.2 for iPad


World of Goo

World of Goo for iPad

About World of Goo

The puzzle genre is one of the few avenues of entertainment for gamers that isn’t blocked by repetition and over familiarity. It has and remains to be the one genre, possibly due to the limited production requirements (No CG cut scenes or photo realistic character required!) a great idea will do! And 2D Boy’s World of Goo is built around a fantastic idea! Taking the conventions of a physics puzzle game and covering it in Gooey character! The concept like all the greats is simple, your main objective being to get a requisite number of goo balls into a pipe that represents the exit, to achieve this the player must use their goo balls to build structures such as bridges, towers, cannonballs and giant tongues to overcome gravity and various terrain difficulties such as chasms, hills and spikes. There are several types of goo balls in the game, each of which has unique properties. The player must exploit combinations of these goo balls in order to complete each level. At the end of each level, any extra goos recovered above your quota and set through to the World of Goo Corporation, a bonus sandbox area where the objective is to compete with other players via this online only mode by building the tallest tower possible. Sound simple? It isn’t! And to make things a little tougher and far more interesting you also have contends with various environmental hazards too. Your Goo will take on wind, water, air, fire, and many other natural phenomenon all intent on your failure. All of these elements are perfectly brought together by an amazingly rich, detailed, perfectly designed and thankfully consistent physics engine that controls and binds the gameplay while hooking the most casual of player in an instant.

It is this mass appeal, igniting both the “Just one of more level” and “I will not be beaten” gaming instincts no matter how difficult long the latter levels to conquer. During our play-test we rarely bordered on frustration but find ourselves still drawn to the world of Goo long after these words had be written. Harking to our previous iPad favorite puzzler, Angry Birds, we even found ourselves returning to previously topped levels to hone our tactics and simply increase our scores. When a game is so enjoyable that you find yourself replaying not for bonus content or any tangible reward beyond just having fun, it is one that should be cherished by all gamers.

Unlike the console and PC versions which sadly put a controller between you and your Goo, the iPad’s touch-screen gives you the perfect interface to play and thus places this version at the top of the pile, bringing the entire experience closer, more intuitive and more fun than all other incarnations.

The Best Games For iPad – World of Goo for the iPad is a amazing puzzle game and one that balances pick up and play accessibility with hours of fun, replay value, unique gameplay and intuitive control and a long lifespan. To find half of the above qualities in a single application would make it recommended, yet to find them all makes this unmissable!

Apple Store | World of Goo for iPad



How to use 3D in the classroom effectively

Use of 3D technology in schools can help identify students’ vision defects and can enhance learning, optometrists say


The AOA says there is no evidence that viewing or attempting to view 3D images will harm a child’s eyes.

Although some people report headaches or other problems from viewing 3D images, that’s not a reason for educators to shy away from using 3D in the classroom, optometrists say. In fact, the use of 3D images in school can help diagnose vision problems among students at an earlier age and can enhance teaching and learning.

That’s the conclusion of a new report on 3D use in K-12 schools, which says headaches that occur while or just after watching 3D video are one of the most common reasons why people opt not to experience 3D. This problem could indicate vision failure, optometrists say—something that 3D use in schools could help identify in children.

The report, titled “3D in the Classroom: See Well, Learn Well Public Health Report,” published by the American Optometric Association (AOA), describes a series of recommendations that can help schools use 3D technology in a way that enables students to “thrive and learn more efficiently in [many] subjects; better preparing them for life and advancing career challenges ahead.”

 Try this Free Virtual Reality Classroom
WIZIQ Virtual Classroom 


Can Video Games Promote Intergenerational Play & Literacy Learning?


by Cynthia Chiong, Ph.D. | December 2009 |'


White Paper: The Digital Promise: Transforming Learning with Innovative Uses of Technology

by Jeanne Wellings et al. | October 2009 |

 Meeting Report: The Impacts of Media Multitasking on Children’s Learning & Development



by Claudia Wallis | July 2009

 Policy Brief: Game Changer: Investing in Digital Play to Advance Children's Learning and Health



by Ann My Thai et al. | June 2009 

 Policy Brief: Getting Over the Slump: Innovation Strategies to Promote Children's Learning



by James Paul Gee, Ph.D. | June 2008


eSN Special Report: Learning in 3-D »

eSN Special Report: Learning in 3-D

The automobile, moving pictures, personal computers, cell phones, and social networks--all of these technologies, once considered frivolous, have made such a huge impact on our culture that our daily lives would change dramatically without them. Could 3-D video be next?...Read More »


Try creating an Avatar