Serious Games & Blended Learning: Changing the Game for STEAM Education
Serious Games, including STEAM educational games are gaining credibility as important teaching tools in the international education community and blended learning circles, and even at home.
Nowadays, many children spend considerable time on tablets and the internet; some are as early as the age they learn how to walk or practice their ABCs. We often hear frustrated parents say things like, “I wish they would spend as much time doing their homework as they would playing Pokemon GO!” And while moderation and balance are key, educators are capitalizing on children’s high levels of engagement in technology, multimedia, and games to improve education and learning outcomes through blended learning.
What is blended learning you might ask? Blended learning is a mixed mode approach to learning that includes both face-to-face and digital learning using multiple technologies and media to deliver content that involves components that are individualized and student centered. Part of blended learning’s effectiveness is that it engages students an investigative manner, that often includes collaboration and reflection. With parallels to STEAM education, this student-centered approaches have been shown to improve learning outcomes as it caters effectively to different learning needs and interests of students.
As part of the teachers blended learning toolbox, there has been growing interest in using games as educational tools. For many educators, the appeal of games for learning is founded on the idea that game-based activities are highly engaging for children thus, it can be educational, too. This is in contrast to memorizing, drilling, and quizzing, which are considered to produce poor learning outcomes as they focus on facts in isolation and less on problem solving in a multidisciplinary setting. Games stimulate learners to interact with problems in ways that take relationships into account, encouraging students to understand subject matters in context, as part of a larger multimodal system.
Even major policy makers are on board, for example, former US President Barack Obama invested heavily in promoting new educational technologies including games, saying “I’m calling for investments in educational technology that will help create educational software that’s as compelling as the best video game.” President Obama is a great supporter of the importance of STEM and STEAM education in American schools, including teaching computer programming for kids.
Educational games, often referred to as “serious games”, are certainly becoming more important in a blended learning setting to augment and improve the educator’s toolbox.
So if you are looking for the latest and greatest educational game, and especially STEAM educational games; this is where STEAM Craft Edu can help!
STEAM Craft Edu, Serious Games and STEAM Education
AT STEAM Craft Edu, we build games on top of our STEAM Craft platform, a highly engaging education sandbox that teaches STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) concepts and skills through serious gaming. Our first launch title called Planeteers is one of the first comprehensive STEAM educational games. Planeteers is designed for students in grades 3 to 6 and includes a fully mapped STEAM curriculum that teaches important 21st century skills, including computer programming for kids.
What differentiates STEAM Craft from other products is that it is really the first serious game for the classroom – a highly educational game disguised as a video game!!! It’s also provides a more holistic offering to STEAM education in a marketplace where products tend to be more specialized and fragmented. This is a great advantage to educators who often have to piecemeal together a mix of digital resources and games to augment their STEAM curriculums. Another major benefit of the STEAM Craft platform is that it provides powerful tools to measure progress and learning outcomes. Other educational games used in the classroom, such as Minecraft, do not track student activities. Planeteers, on the other hand, provides a comprehensive Teacher’s Dashboard, which tracks and reports individual progress and class performance with detailed metrics to help measure and improve learning outcomes mapped to the game’s STEAM curriculum.
With Planeteers soon to be available internationally, the team at STEAM Craft Edu aim to provide serious games for the classroom and inspire children to develop new skills and interests through next generation educational gaming. And if you’re a parent or a teacher interested in finding out more or trying Planeteers, sign up for our early release beta at the bottom of our home page – we’ll send you an invitation and download link when the international pre-release version of Planeteers is ready.
In the not too distant future: wrestle Pokemon GO away from your children for a while, and give them a copy of Planeteers instead. Teachers will add an amazing new tool to your blended learning toolbox and STEAM curriculum activities. Parents, watch your kids learn STEAM skills without realizing, see them tinker, explore and experiment, while developing critical thinking skills and nurturing their curiosity. ###