Game-centered learning explored in Michigan pilot program

To be effective, a one-to-one program – in which every student works on a laptop computer -- must do more than just put a laptop in student's hands. Central to the one-to-one concept is incorporating 21st century methods of teaching and learning, including the use of virtual environments and gaming technologies. Through a comprehensive initiative to understand the power and potential of gaming in the classroom, four Michigan school districts are taking part in a pilot Games-to-Laptop Initiative that will evaluate student’s use of gaming technology.

Funded by the Kauffman Foundation and spearheaded by the One-to-One Institute the pilot program will evaluate student engagement and assess infrastructural impediments that may present themselves during wider implementations of educational video games.Three Michigan districts are participating in the program representing several regions throughout the state including suburban southeastern Michigan, rural northern Michigan, and urban western Michigan.In addition, the Armada Area School District in rural Macomb County is taking part in the program.

“We want to take gaming in the classroom to the next level – hundreds of thousands of students are engaged in higher level thinking that comes from game-centered teaching and learning,” said Michael Gielniak, Ph.D., programs and development manager, One-to-One Institute. “But first we need to lay the ground work for understanding the direct benefits of gaming in a one-to-one scenario.”

Nine educational video games and simulations will be used in the Michigan program. They include DimensionM™, American Dynasties, Democracy, Hot Shot Business, Making History, Resilient Planet, Time Engineers, Virtual Cell and Zon.

The DimensionM™ games incorporate a series of first-person action adventure missions that feature graphics, sound and animation similar to those in popular commercial video games. By successfully navigating a host of embedded lessons, students gain mastery of the mathematics concepts previously discussed in class.

“With this initiative, educators hope to gain a deeper understanding of how students respond to the idea of ‘click and go’ learning that engages them in challenging content,” said Ntiedo Etuk, chief executive officer of Tabula Digita, developer of the DimensionM™ math video games.