The NEA Foundation has awarded ten $1,000 prizes to the educators who submitted the top ten best ideas on how to integrate video game technology into the classroom. The portion of the prize pool was provided by the NEAF's partners Microsoft Partners in Learning and the U.S. Department of Education.
The winners of the NEA Foundation's Challenge to Innovate Gaming Award were selected both by their peers and also experts in the field of gaming and interactive technology.
"Game-based learning and interactive technology can help build technological and communication competencies valued in the workplace and the 21st century economy. So we asked educators to share, discuss, and evaluate ideas about how to use these tools to support classroom instruction," said Harriet Sanford, President and CEO of the NEA Foundation. "We discovered educators who are using technology in fun, creative ways. By initiating this discussion and knowledge sharing, we hope to help educators better equip their students with the skills they'll need to be successful in college, work, and life."
The ideas were submitted to the NEAF via the Department of Education's crowdsourcing portal which is used to solicit ideas from educators and other academic stakeholders in improving learning for students in the United States. After NEAF solicited Microsoft to help it publicize the project, more than 150 ideas were submitted from which 10 were chosen for the top prizes.
One of the top ideas was the proposal by John V. Binzak, a student at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, in Cambridge, MA, to combine a video game that would follow the path of a migrating bird with a science class that would allow students to gain knowledge of migratory pattern of the bird, as well as of the localities, ecosystems, habitats, and food chains "the bird" would discover along its route.
Another, proposed by Kimberly Brown, a middle school teacher at Chattanooga, TN, which would use games that mimic properties of matter such as acceleration, mass, gravity, and other scientific concepts as a fun way to demonstrate these concepts, and their use, to the students.
"Because students love to compete in online games and interactive phone apps, any way of incorporating those activities into the fabric of the classroom is sure to engage students and create an interest in content learning."
Virginia Tech's Michael A. Evans not only submitted an idea, but already has a prototype of an app for iPads and iPhones which allows students to use candy bars as a visual aid in learning how to manipulate fractional numbers.
Students are asked to partition a whole candy bar into an equal number of parts, then iterate one of those parts the appropriate number of times. The game relies on current research outlining engagement states, including: sustained attention, withholding of a dominant response to perform a non-dominate response, and short-term memory.