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Level Up Learning: National Survey on Teaching with Games

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Digital games have the potential to transform K-12 education as we know it. But what has been the real experience among teachers who use games in the classroom? In 2013, the Games and Learning Publishing Council conducted a national survey among nearly 700 K-8 teachers. The report reveals key findings from the survey, and looks at how often and why teachers use games in the classroom, as well as issues they encounter in their efforts to implement digital games into their practice. This report was produced by the Games and Learning Publishing Council, a project of the Joan Ganz Cooney Center.
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   1 LEVEL UP LEARNING: A NATIONAL SURVEY ON TEACHING WITH DIGITAL GAMES   LEVEL UP LEARNING:  A national survey on teaching with digital games  By Lori M. Takeuchi & Sarah Vaala  This report is a product of the Games and Learning Publishing Council based on research funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The ndings and conclusions contained within are those of the authors and do not necessarily reect positions or policies of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. SUGGESTED CITATION Takeuchi, L. M., & Vaala, S. (2014). Level up learning: A national survey on teaching with digital games. New York: The Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop. A full-text PDF of this report is available as a free download from: www.joanganzcooneycenter.org . LEVEL UP LEARNING  is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.  2 LEVEL UP LEARNING: A NATIONAL SURVEY ON TEACHING WITH DIGITAL GAMES   TABLE OF CONTENTS  3 LEVEL UP LEARNING: A NATIONAL SURVEY ON TEACHING WITH DIGITAL GAMES Introduction ..............7 Foreword  ................4Executive Summary .......5Our Methods .............9What We Found .........13 PLAYERS  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .13 PRACTICES  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17 PROFILES  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .35 PERCEPTIONS  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .47 SYNTHESIS  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .56 RECOMMENDATIONS  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .57  A: WRITE-IN GAME TITLES  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .63 FINAL THOUGHTS  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .59 B: CLUSTER ANALYSIS METHODS  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .65 What It Means ...........56References ..............60Appendix ...............63  FOREWORD BY MILTON CHEN, PH.D.CHAIR, GAMES & LEARNING PUBLISHING COUNCIL  This survey can trace its srcins to a long history in the design of games for learning at Sesame Work- shop. As early as its rst season in 1969, Sesame Street   incorporated a classication game for preschoolers: who doesn’t know the music and lyrics from “One of These Things Is Not Like the Other?” A later segment, circa 1987, from the Workshop’s Square One TV,  used a game-show format to display a panel of shirts and slacks, and asked, “How many outts can be created?” Combinatorial mathematics was thus placed within reach of an 8-year-old. By the mid-80s, the rst educational computer games were being introduced into classrooms. Veteran edu - cators (and young parents) will remember Oregon Trail, Carmen Sandiego, and Rocky’s Boots, used by a small number of innovative teachers to enliven their classrooms through characters, graphics, and sound. However, the technology trailed far behind the vision of “microworlds” employing full-motion video, rich sound effects and music, as well as creative applica -tions across the curriculum. In those days before the Internet, the majority of schools had fewer than 10 computers. With the expo -nential increases in multimedia capacity and dramatic decreases in price, today’s digital games offer much more than an occasional game for reinforcement or reward alongside the “basic curriculum.” Immersive and complex games are demonstrating their potential to transform that curriculum and launch it on a new trajectory that harnesses story, simulation, and stimu- lation, along with competition and collaboration, to achieve higher standards and deeper learning. This study provides an important snapshot of how far we are along that trajectory. As a single survey, its ndings are necessarily limited by sample size and self-reporting. However, two fundamental ndings should capture the attention of all educators, develop-ers, funders, and policymakers: a majority of teachers are using digital games in their classrooms, and games are increasingly played on mobile devices that travel with their students. In sheer numbers of teachers and students using games of all types, the “games move - ment” is now mainstream, achieving the Holy Grail of educational innovation: getting to scale. However, much remains to be done to reach that higher trajectory, in professional development and communication to teachers, in the supply side of developing more creative and complex games, and in research on outcomes. Through this study, teachers are indicating their growing receptivity to using games and a game’s power for student engagement. The momentum to date has been largely fueled by bottom-up professional development—teachers spreading the word and teaching each other about games—rather than formal, district-led training tied to state stan-dards. Teachers in this survey are telling us that they are also learners and ready for more in-depth and comprehensive PD about games. The study’s typology of game-using teachers—the Dabblers, Players, Barrier Busters, and Naturals—can prompt more powerful, peer-based approaches to professional learning. Education, more familiar with a glacial pace of change, is now picking up the pace. It is tting that this report is brought to you by the letters G, L, P, and C, an activ- ity of the Joan Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop, an institution known for making learning engaging and, dare we say it,  joyful . There is cause for optimism here and for redoubling our efforts to give teachers the sup-port they need and students the learning they deserve.  Dr. Milton Chen is a senior fellow and Executive Direc-tor, Emeritus, at The George Lucas Educational Founda-tion and a trustee at Sesame Workshop. He also serves as chair of the Panasonic Foundation and education committee for the National Park System Advisory Board. 4 LEVEL UP LEARNING: A NATIONAL SURVEY ON TEACHING WITH DIGITAL GAMES

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