Digital Directions - Winter 2013 - (Page 16)

Online Courses Turn On GAMING By_Katie Ash Virtual ed. providers want to build greater interactivity M iddle school students using Connections Academy online curricula analyze parts of speech and build sentences to complete grammar “missions” in an interactive game. Students taking classes through K12 Inc.’s online curricula access mobile apps to play games as a way to reinforce what they’re learning in class. And students in the Pender County school district in North Carolina are learning language arts and leadership skills through video games such as Minecraft and World of Warcraft, thanks to a new learning-management system specifically designed for game-based learning. “[Students] are engaged every day in activities that are fast, active, [and] involve problem-solving and exploration—that’s what’s happening outside in their world,” says Pat Hoge, the senior vice president of curriculum and instruction and the chief academic officer for Connections Academy, a Baltimore-based company that provides online courses and curricula. “How does learning in education mirror that?” Because of advances in technology that make it easier to build online games, and the growing belief in the power of games to engage and motivate students, creators of online courses are finding new ways to incorporate interactive, game-based learning. Yet designing highquality digital games for learning can be costly and time-consuming, and not all schools have the technological infrastructure necessary to integrate digital games. 16 >> Connections Academy’s Guardians of Grammar uses superheroes to teach about verbs, participles, and proper nouns. In the game, students create their own sentences to demonstrate knowledge of grammar concepts, analyze different grammatical parts of sentences, and build sentences by adding words from a word bank to an existing sentence structure. “We’re focused on providing students with multiple ways of engaging with curricula,” Hoge says. The curriculum also uses simulations and other game-related elements to engage students. Connections recently made the switch from sending out physical rock and mineral kits to online students to implementing a digital rock and mineral simulation. According to the feedback from students, the ratings for that lesson increased after the switch to the digital simulation. NoodleVerse GOAL To review and practice core language arts concepts in the K-12 curriculum GAME DESCRIPTION An interactive, entertaining portal with more than 1,200 activities that immerses students in fanciful worlds COURSES Language Arts K-2 PLATFORM Desktop

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Digital Directions - Winter 2013

Digital Directions - Winter 2013
Editor’s Note
DD Site Visit
Bits & Bytes
Digital Storytelling
Online Courses Turn on Gaming
Reading in the Age of Digital Devices
Movers & Shakers
State, Federal Leadership Seen as Key to Innovation
Open-Source Opportunities
BYOD Boundaries
E-Cloud Forecast
Digital Shift

Digital Directions - Winter 2013