January 13 2017 edition

Welcome to 2017 and to a “greatest hits” edition of the Level Up Report! We’ve been taking a breather: making our way through the holidays, enjoying some vacation, and traveling to Washington DC and Chicago for Obama administration farewell events. But we didn’t want to let you get through this long weekend without a newsletter. Our mailing list software anonymously tracks how popular each of the links are that we send out so that we can tune the newsletter to your interests, so this week we present to you the most popular news from 2016. These are the things that you found most interesting last year!

Thanks to everyone who contributed to the newsletter in 2016, I always really appreciate your emails. You can send us your news and favorites by replying back to this newsletter or using the contact information shown at the bottom.

Most popular 2016 news stories

The US Department of Education’s SBIR grants topped the charts for 2016. The winners of last year’s grants were the most popular item in our newsletter. There were a lot of familiar names among the award winners! The announcement of the 2017 Request for Applications also received a lot of clicks. We’ll look forward to sharing the winners with you later this year.

Filament Games’ blog was very popular with our readers last year. Dan White, CEO of Filament Games, wrote a piece on four technology trends that will impact game-based learning, in this insightful blog post. Filament also released an eBook on how to teach with games, featuring expert insight from a number of educators, which was quite popular.

Pokemon GO was a huge game in 2016, and articles on the phenomenon charted high. Greg Toppo talked with Jane McGonigal and Matthew Farber in a piece for USA Today on using Pokemon GO for education. Lee Banville related the game to education research and physical games. Ed Metz and Russ Shilling from the US Department of Education considered the future of augmented reality tech for education in a piece on the 1776 blog, and Education Week talked with Common Sense Media, James Gee, Steve Isaacs, and several others, analyzing the pros and cons of the game’s potential for education.

Did you check out Reddit’s game-based learning subreddit? It’s a great feed of game-based learning articles.

Re/Code covered game developer Toca Boca, their unusual business model, and the open-ended play typical of their games.

A Pew Research Center report explored the attitudes and behaviors that underpin people’s comfort in using digital tools for learning. The analysis categorized adults into five groups: The Unprepared, Traditional Learners, The Reluctant, Cautious Clickers, and Digitally Ready. It’s a long read, and worth your time.

Sande Chen’s excellent series on game-based learning on GamesAndLearning.org was quite popular. This third piece in particular got a lot of clicks, analyzing the development of entertainment games which find their way into the classroom.

Mitch Resnick, director of MIT Media Lab’s Lifelong Kindergarten group, discussed the concept of “wide walls”, providing multiple learning pathways for students so they can find their own way and work on projects that are meaningful to them.

Schell Games teamed up with the Children’s Museum of Houston to create a “SECRET” scavenger hunt for kids ages 6 to 12. I’ve been telling a lot of people about this. It looks like so much fun!

Oculus announced $10 million funds for both educational programs and apps that promote diversity at its conference. We’re curious to see what they fund!

Digital Promise launched a tool to help educators and ed-tech developers find relevant research more easily. They categorized research into 12 broad topics that you can dive deep on or search through to find information useful to you. Check the video tutorial!

GamesAndLearning.org published an infographic from MIND Research Institute on using games to help teach math. In a survey of 1000 students, most said they’d rather eat broccoli than do math problems. Maybe there’s a future for broccoli-based math games after all!

President Obama’s “Computer Science for All” initiative got a lot of attention from our readers (we’re also quite partial to it!) The White House blog carried the details, which included a $4 billion funding allocation for states to increase access to K-12 CS by training teachers and building regional partnerships. This piece from Polygon with the White House’s Tom Kalil and US Department of Education’s Russ Shilling combined our love of computer science with our love of video games, and was quite popular with you all as well.

Lastly, research from Columbia University published in the journal Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology concluded that kids who play games five or more hours a week do better in school and suffer no emotional health problems. See GamesAndLearning’s article for more details on this research.


Learn about Neural Networks (Web) – This interactive site was the only playable to break the top 20 links. Experiment with the inputs of a neural net and to gain greater understanding into how this AI technology works. If you keep hearing about the power of AI but aren’t quite sure what that means, give this simulator a shot!


Global Game Jam – The world’s largest weekend game jam, at hundreds of sites around the world! January 20-22.
Bett – Massive annual trade show showcasing the use of technology in education. London, UK. January 25-28.
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.


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

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