February 10 2017 edition

Thanks to Asi Burak, Lea Shanley, and Russ Shilling for contributions to this issue! You can send us your news and favorites by replying back to this newsletter or using the contact information shown at the bottom.

Games and Education

VR headsetWe’re increasingly discussing virtual reality and augmented reality in this newsletter, as the technology evolves and becomes more available and relevant to education. EdSurge highlighted five ways to think about using AR/VR technology in school, with links to a number of interesting resources. Read how Buffalo Elementary School in Iowa is pioneering the use of a VR-integrated curriculum aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards.

Jordan Shapiro interviewed Asi Burak about his new book Power Play: How Video Games Can Save the World, in an extensive piece for Forbes. Check out an excerpt from the book, on Adam Gazzaley’s pioneering games and neuroscience work, here on Gamasutra.

Who would have thought virtual reality could be used to reduce the need for surgery anesthesia in under-resourced communities? Ars Technica explores with surgeon Jose Luis Mosso Vazquez at a Mexican mountaintop village.

It’s not news that sports professionals are using videogames and simulations as part of their training; but utilizing brain-training games to improve their perceptual capabilities and spatial awareness? That’s pretty interesting! The NY Times explored in a great longread.

The creators of Polycraft World, a Minecraft mod that simulates the refinement of chemicals for the development of polymers, wrote an interesting report on their development and results for the journal Nature.

Educators quickly grow accustomed to hearing about new AMAZING technologies that will REVOLUTIONIZE their classroom! District tech integrators serve an increasingly important role in separating the wheat from the chaff, highlighting technologies that actually do make a difference, and finding effective ways to roll them out at scale. This Bright (Medium) piece demonstrates how tech integrators can be strong allies for creators of education games.

Coding and Making

CubettoFun versus function: Kidscreen talks with a number of experts about their work making coding fun and accessible to students. Incorporating computational thinking skills into games, toys, and platforms for self-expression can lower barriers and make these skills a normal part of every child’s learning experience.

Salesforce recognized 10 Black Innovators in STEM as part of Black History Month, highlighting remarkable individuals who defied stereotypes, battled injustice, and blazed new trails.

The Infy Maker Awards Contest deadline is coming at the end of this month! The Maker contest awards $10,000 prizes to 25 Makers who are developing innovative solutions to challenges in their community. This year’s contest focuses on four categories: education, health, environmental sustainability, and food.

Florida legislators are pushing to allow computer science education to cover foreign language learning requirements in schools starting in 2019. This Miami Herald piece covers arguments from both sides well.

BAFTA released a report examining career success factors for under-represented groups working in film, television, and games. The study highlights a number of best practices of individuals in the field: practices such as finding mentors and collaborators, and developing strategies to overcome negative experiences.

The new Advanced Placement CS Principles course has seen the largest debut of an AP course in the 60-year history of the AP program. In its first year, 2600 teachers became authorized to teach it, reaching 27,000 students. Data collected during the program’s pilot showed increases in the participation of girls and underrepresented minorities.

Playables

Sometimes I feel badly about highlighting a game in this section multiple times. But when they’re this interesting, I’d feel worse if you didn’t play them! Here are a few great games that recently received notable media coverage.

SpellTowerSpellTower (Mac, iOS, Android) – This popular word game, first launched in 2011, recently received an update that includes Merriam-Webster dictionary support and online multiplayer. It is still a ton of fun! Video. TouchArcade article.

We Are Chicago (PC, Mac) – Explore life as a student on the south side of Chicago in this first-person adventure game based on real stories. Video. VentureBeat article.

1979 Revolution: Black Friday (PC, Mac, iOS, Android) – Play as a young Iranian photojournalist who becomes entangled in the underground, leading to the 1979 uprising against the Shah. Video. Gamasutra article.

Papers, Please. (PC, Mac, iOS) – Congratulations! You get the pleasure of assisting your state with passport control. We know that you will do your best! Video. TouchArcade article.

Videos

Portal in AR on HoloLensPortal in AR with HoloLens – Can you use augmented reality to recreate Portal in real life? This impressive video showcases Portal as a HoloLens demo. Wow!

One Campus’s iPad Revolution – Mark Lombardi, president of Maryville University, details how deploying iPads and learning apps to their entire student body has impacted education in the classroom.

Seeking the Holy Grail of Education: Tyto Online – Lindsey Tropf, CEO of Immersed Games, is interviewed about her company, and her belief that games can serve as a platform for learning and inspiration. Her company was incubated in Intel’s Education Accelerator, and Tyto Online is currently available in Steam Early Access. Article.

Events

Kidscreen Summit – Exploring new horizons in kids entertainment. Miami, FL. February 13-16.
DICE Summit – The game industry’s annual executive leadership summit. Las Vegas, NV. February 21-23.
Game Developers Conference – The biggest conference to attend for game developers! San Francisco, CA. February 27-March 3.
SXSWedu – Popular education festival prior to SXSW Music / Film / Interactive. Austin, TX. March 6-9.
SIGCSE 2017 – The largest computing education conference worldwide, organized by ACM SIGCSE. Seattle, WA. March 8-11.

Resources

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Send your news, games, videos, and great article links to mark@levelupreport.com for inclusion in the report!