Guest Post by Justin W. Marquis Ph.D

We live in a time of transition as the Industrial Age slowly gives way to the Information Age. The Common Core Standards are a sign of the struggle to make sense of this dramatically changing world. Until we move beyond our current factory model education paradigm to a new more individualized approach, the Common Core Standards will remain a very real and important part of our educational system. That said, there is no reason that adhering to these standards needs to mean that teaching must conform to a particular “standard” delivery mode. Game-based learning is one way to meet the needs that the Common Core Standards represent while still breaking out of the industrial education mold that prevents us all from fully moving forward into the 21st Century.

Playing to Learn

Education and society as a whole have changed dramatically in the last half-century. In fact, more technological advances have happened in the past 50 years than happened in all prior human history. Computers, cell phones, the Internet, portable computing devices, and digital video games are just a few of the dramatic advances that have transformed society from an industrial model into an information-based one.

Some of the least heralded, though potentially most powerful of these technological advances can be seen in digital video games and the virtual environments and experiences that they make accessible to people of all ages. At their very core, video games are a form of play – the oldest and most natural mode of learning in existence. In fact, many animals learn through play and our children develop a rich understanding of the world around them through play before they ever enter school. Digital video games, when specifically focused on learning, have the potential to provide students playful simulations of the real world that can teach anything- including the valuable skills and information that are the focus of the Common Core Standards.

Games Teach Beyond the Common Core Too

The Common Core Standards are designed to ensure a minimum exposure to the subjects they cover and thus hopefully offer a guarantee of a standard level of competency for all those who engage in a curriculum designed around them. That approach is quite limiting and fails to look at learning as a broad effort that can encompass many different skills and areas at once. When teachers design their lessons around the Core Standards they regularly incorporate multiple standards into a single lesson, and the possibility exists for learning to happen that extends beyond the Core. A strict focus on standards does, however often make teachers so focused on those limited objectives that they could miss opportunities to expand their students’ learning. Games, by their very nature, expand learning in many different directions while still addressing Core standards.

Digital video games, because they are problem-based and technology-mediated, have an innate ability to help students develop competencies in the following areas:

• Technological Literacy
• Teamwork
• Digital Communications
• Decision Making
• Creativity
• Problem Solving
• Resource Management
• Critical Thinking
Digital Citizenship
• Personal and Social Responsibility

These are only a few of the extremely important 21st Century skills that video games can help students develop while they simultaneously learn material that meets the needs captured in the Common Core.

Enter a Brave KNeoWORLD

At KNeoWORLD we are taking the guesswork out of using digital video games to meet and exceed the Common Core Standards. We have mapped our games to all of the standards for Mathematics including those covering expressions, geometry, algebraic thinking, and statistics, and will be working on other disciplines as they become available. KNeoWORLD also uses a badge system that captures student achievement in areas such as logical thinking, physics, decision-making, hypothesizing, spatial reasoning, game design, music composition, and dozens more important competencies. We currently are developing curriculum guides for all of the KNeoWORLD games that will help educators and parents effectively use our games to meet students’ individualized needs in reaching the Common Core Standards and in developing important 21st Century skills.

If you are interested in using games to help expand your teaching repertoire while still addressing the Common Core, visit KNeoWORLD to check out the great games that we are constantly working on to best support the Core Standards. I also provide a comprehensive guide for implementing a game-based curriculum in the classroom in the LessonPaths playlist below. I am happy to answer questions about game-based learning or KNeoWORLD through my email: Justin@kneoworld.com.

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