The research of Dr. Hiller Spires and Dr. James Lester at NC State University investigates how games can influence problem solving for middle grade students in STEM education. I first looked at their work back some five years ago or so. Lester runs a research lab on games in education through the College of Engineering in computer science. Spires is with the College of Education and was the founding director of the William and Ida Friday Institute for Educational Innovation. They did applied studies with middle grades students using a game they developed in their lab called Crystal Island: Uncharted Discovery, and students at the local middle school on the university campus got to play it! They were looking at games and learning back when there was still a lot of skepticism about it, and even a good bit of hesitation in even using the words “game” and “education” in the same sentence. Fortunately, we’ve moved past that and companies are moving forward into making this integration not only accepted, but doable!
In walks Minecraft Education…
The online magazine Parent Herald shares an article by Minnow Blythe about a new approach by Microsoft to their game Minecraft that allows learners to study through the power of game play. They call it “Minecraft Education Edition” and it caters to any number of subjects in STEM and really any field of study at all. As a designer and an educator I’m excited to explore the possibilities of fostering creativity and collaboration among students and teachers in a game space.
They have a cost structure for individual students or for schools as a whole, and it supports eleven languages – think of the possibilities for language studies!
Check out Blythe’s article and learn more: https://www.parentherald.com/articles/80279/20161102/micrsoft-minecraft-education-play-to-learn-gamification.htm