Digital Directions - Spring/Summer 2012 - (Page 12)

GAME ON I By_IAN QUILLEN Photos by_MATT ROTH for Digital Directions t’s 8 a.m. in Diane White’s video-gamedesign class, and already her students are chattering, chuckling, and clicking. In one row, juniors Jacob Currence and Tyler Gum test the gun-shooting level of “Finding Mr. X,” a film noir-flavored game they’ve created to test players’ acumen in quadratic equations. Behind them, Kasey Meadows demonstrates how the protagonist in “The Lost Llama” weaves through a maze and solves riddles about mathematical sines, cosines, and tangents. The incessant low din suggests chaos, but White insists it’s the sound of productivity. “It’s just a different type of classroom,” she says. White is the pioneer here at Tygarts Valley Middle and High School in Mill Creek, W.Va., where for one period a day for the past two years she has taught the Globaloria curriculum, a creation of the New York Citybased ed-tech nonprofit World Wide Workshop built around students participating in social networking and video game design. It’s an effort to transform much more than the classroom vibe. For the students in this computer-labturned-mini-software-company, who spend the entire course working individually or with partners developing a game that teaches an educational concept of their choosing, there’s the critical thinking As more schools integrate digital games into learning, programs are evolving to turn students into bona fide video-game designers needed to understand and communicate to players what exactly is toughest to teach about a subject. There are also the transferrable skills of proposal writing, storyboarding, AdobeScript software coding, informational blogging, and presentation of progress reports, as students follow a development plan similar to those in the commercial gaming industry through tools available through their account on Globaloria’s wiki site. For the 550-student school and its rural 4,200-student Randolph County school district, where 70 percent of students qualify for free or reduced-price lunch, there’s a window to the world through communication with professional game reviewers and Globaloria students across the nation. (The district has also established Globaloria programs at Elkins High School, Elkins Middle School, and the Randolph Technical Center.) And for a community where the economy hinges on retail sales and tourism, there’s the hope that those tools and that window may allow the best students to find local work in large numbers for the first time since nearby Elkins’ railway and mining industries faded after World War II. “There are a bunch of kids here who in a couple years can start a company,” says Idit H. Caperton, the founder and president of World Wide Workshop, during a visit to Elkins, where the Randolph Technical Center piloted Globaloria way back in 2007. “I believe there is talent everywhere,” she says. “And I think if we cultivate that, you will see some stars coming out of this state.” In School or After School? The specialization that often occurs in groups of students that design games—when they split BACKGROUND: iStockphoto_teekid 12 >>

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Digital Directions - Spring/Summer 2012

Digital Directions - Spring/Summer 2012
Editor's Note
DD Site Visit
Bits & Bytes
Game On
Applicable Knowledge
Digital Badges
Lessons From Higher Education
Competitive Edge
Recognizing Online PD
Ready or Not
Data Delivery

Digital Directions - Spring/Summer 2012