RE@L's BELIEVE IT OR NOT: "7 billion hours a week are being spent on gaming!"

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We here at RE@L believe it! 7 billion! That’s about the same as the number of people on earth!

Here’s what we’ve recently learned about gaming from someone who knows. Here in the USA:

  • 99 percent of boys and 94 percent of girls under 18 play online games at least an hour a week
  • 92 percent of 2-year-olds play games on their parents’ smart phones
  • 300 million minutes a day are spent playing “Angry Birds”

No, we are not endorsing more fun and games. But we are endorsing more fun and learning. Each of those incredible statistics were cited this week by Dr. Jane McGonigal in her keynote speech to Florida Education Technology Conference (FETC) in Orlando. Dr. McGonigal is the first person to earn a Ph.D. in the study of the Effects of Gaming, In her keynote presentation she presented plenty of hard evidence that gaming needs to be an integral part of K12 education.

If you want a refresher, here’s a RE@L blog on K12 gaming featuring Dr. McGonigal that we did last October: http://realexperiencesatlife.com/whats-in-a-learning-game-rel-learning-for-life/.

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A lot of new gaming development has happened since then. Recently, Dr. McGonigal spoke with 10,000 educators about gaming’s bright new future in learning and in our personal lives, as well. Dr. McGonigal laid out a research-based, convincing argument for the inclusion of gaming in the K12 curriculum. Click on the graphic to the left for Dr. McGonigals recent TED talk.

She declared to her FETC audience: “Soon We’ll All Be Gamers….teachers, students and learners everywhere.” Here’s a link from THE Journal to an overview of her FETC presentation: http://thejournal.com/articles/2015/01/21/soon-well-all-be-gamers.aspx

The_Oregon_Trail_coverThere is way too much evidence and common sense in what Dr.McGonical says to ignore new EdTEch gaming materials for K12. And that’s what we do here at RE@L. Our staff, heavily steeped in the use of gaming in learning materials, going way back to Oregon Trail™, is now rapidly developing new models to take advantage of Dr. McGonigal’s gaming reality dictum. It’s clear to us that games as a supplement to teaching/learning materials is steadily gaining momentum. Helping drive it are the millions of iPad-type devices being placed in classrooms across America as part of new 1:1 programs. All those iPads need quality apps that help kids learn.

To assure that new learning goals are being met, K12 gaming must be in synch with existing school practices. We developers must give serious consideration to both the traditional and the new standards for instructional materials. We need to assure better “Fits” for gaming technologies into K12. There are many aspects to K12 that need a better fit:

1. Curriculum Fit – Where can gaming fit smoothly into an already established area of study? We need to align these exciting new games with existing subject matter scope-and-sequence. Gaming needs to add synergy and more learning success.

2. Classroom And Beyond Fit – How can gaming activities can be accommodated in the classroom and outside it. How can it be made an integral part of field trips; explorations, laboratory studies; and how can team learning environment can be accommodated.

3. Time Fit – How can we structure more learning time available for gaming to smoothly fit into classroom routines?

4. Standards-Fit – How can we make sure that using gaming lines up with the adopted learning objectives and is easily tied to teacher/district/state/national standards?

5. Student-Fit and Teacher-Fit – Last and not least, and most important, how can we assure that the new gaming systems work smoothly and effectively with all those who use them?

Those are the questions that keep us busy at REAL. Finding Good Fits for technology in teaching and learning is what RE@L does, all the way from the drawing board to learning games in action. We consult gaming experts, teachers, and students. Way back when, our designers helped bring the game Oregon Trail to classrooms everywhere. They are now at work designing even new and better learning games that have no borders.

For those who want more background information on gaming in education, we chanced upon a great blog from TheEduBlogger.com. Click the link to read it.

Stay tuned for more exciting news on gaming….and coming from RE@L!

 Click on the globe below to contact us with any questions or comments you may have!

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Tom King & Dale LaFrenz

Dr. Tom King has served for over 40 years as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Saint Thomas in the School of Education. The Saturn School of Tomorrow, formerly a St. Paul Public School, and his visionary response to educational reform, was a lighthouse on the frontier of school change. Tom was an experienced high school teacher of mathematics, a school administrator, and Director of Technology for the St. Paul MN Public Schools. He is also a member of the RE@L Team. Dr. Dale LaFrenz is Chairman of RE@L and one of the founders of MECC Software who brought “Oregon Trail” to millions of K12 kids everywhere. He has written extensively on the history and evolution of Ed Tech. His work in forging new paths for MECC’S “edutainment" software was instrumental in connecting school-markets, kids, teachers and consumer-markets/kids/parents, and now serves as the new launching pad for RE@L apps and software.