Reimagine Learning

Victoria Van Voorhis & Anne Snyder, Ph.D.

Serious Games, Game-Based Learning, Custom Software Development, Interactives for Education and Training, Learning Management Systems, Online Education, App Development, K-16 Education
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Recent Posts

Creating Future Rock Stars: Inclusion, STEM, and Games

Victoria Van Voorhis & Anne Snyder, Ph.D.

by Victoria Van Voorhis & Anne Snyder, Ph.D. on Dec 31, 2015 11:51:47 AM

Women, a little while ago, I found myself feeling a bit like a high-schooler who has just spied a favorite lead singer at a concert…except instead of a concert I was in the executive offices of the White House. During our meeting on educational technology, I thought I caught a glimpse of someone really incredible in the hallway just outside the door.

“Was that Megan Smith?! She is a rock star!!!!!” I whispered. Indeed it was. The Chief Technology Officer of the United States and previous VP of Google was right in the hallway, waiting to talk to our group about inclusion as well as game-based assessment. I was over the moon – this remarkable woman has helped transform the world of technology, while also supporting the inclusion of women in minorities in both education and the workplace.

This topic, inclusion, was one of the themes of her discussion with our group. Referencing Grace Hopper, one of the first American computer scientists and inventor of the first programming compiler, Ms. Smith reminded us of the great potential talent in STEM among our women, and minority groups. She asked us to focus our efforts on repairing the wide representation gap between these groups and majority groups in the STEM fields. The under-representation problem has persisted for far too long, and Ms. Smith suggested that educational games and access to low-cost maker technology such as Raspberry Pi offer partial solutions to this complex problem.

Topics: STEM, game-based assessment

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2015 Congressional App Challenge - Computer Science & STEM

Victoria Van Voorhis & Anne Snyder, Ph.D.

by Victoria Van Voorhis & Anne Snyder, Ph.D. on Dec 23, 2015 7:00:00 AM

On a recent Saturday morning, local participants were invited to the Student Innovation Center at the Rochester Institute of Technology, where Representative Louise Slaughter introduced this year’s Annual Congressional App Challenge. In its second year, the App Challenge invites high school students across the nation to submit their designs for original mobile and computer applications.  

As representatives from the industry, Second Avenue Learning presented on the importance of diversity in product teams and end-user requirements gathering and testing. Faculty from the University of Rochester discussed game design, the Strong National Museum provided information on game history, and a member of local game studio, Workinman, explained important factors in game development. All of these issues are of critical importance for app development.

Topics: Technology, Workflow, Inbound

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Ed Games Expo

Victoria Van Voorhis & Anne Snyder, Ph.D.

by Victoria Van Voorhis & Anne Snyder, Ph.D. on Dec 17, 2015 3:35:56 PM

The ED Games Expo - A game night extravaganza!

Second Avenue was delighted to participate in this year’s ED Games Expo, sponsored by 1776 and the Entertainment Software Association! After all, everyone loves a good “game night” from time to time, right? (In our office, when we finish our writing, designing, coding, and testing for the day, many of us play Super Mash Brothers, a vintage game like Street Fighter, or even old school board games – they help us think about our own designs). The ED Games Expo was like a game night extravaganza, with attendees not only playing games, but also meeting the developers.

This year’s event featured 30 developers, funded by Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grants from U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences, the National Science Foundation and four other Federal agencies. The Expo also showcased commercial learning games developers, including Minecraft EDU, Ubisoft, and PBS Kids ScratchJr.

Topics: game-based assessment

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The Big "Duh!" in Education: Game-based Assessment

Victoria Van Voorhis & Anne Snyder, Ph.D.

by Victoria Van Voorhis & Anne Snyder, Ph.D. on Dec 15, 2015 2:11:58 PM

When the Deputy Assistant to the President for Education walks into the room, followed shortly by the United States Chief Technology Officer, you know the conversation is about to get really interesting.

Game-Based Assessment (GBA)

Of course, in our case, the conversation was already interesting. Sitting in the beautiful and historically remarkable Indian Treaty Room at the White House complex, we were part of an incredible discussion on a relatively new development in education; game-based assessment. Our program officer and a champion of serious and learning games, Dr. Ed Metz, led the charge by bringing together representatives from educational technology and serious games companies throughout the country. 

The White House is interested in exploring game-based assessment as part our country’s testing solutions of the future.

Together with our colleagues in the field of game-based learning, we explored the challenges and opportunities offered by measuring learning, not through paper and pencil or computer-based tests, but by asking students to play games. Like so many of the others in the room, we believe that games have the potential to offer both teaching and learning opportunities, as well as the ability to provide deep and comprehensive evidence of teaching and learning. With the passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act, the door has been opened for other types of assessment, including game-based assessments (GBA).

Topics: game-based assessment

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More Than Just a Dream: How Real Teachers Use Game-Based Assessment Every Day

Victoria Van Voorhis & Anne Snyder, Ph.D.

by Victoria Van Voorhis & Anne Snyder, Ph.D. on Dec 7, 2015 7:17:25 PM

In a brilliant discussion of the use of games as assessment tools, Rebecca Rufo-Tepper outlined several creative ways that real teachers, right now, are already using games in their classroom. In every discipline, and sometimes across disciplines, teachers are examining student learning through their gameplay. How do they do it?

Because few serious and educational games are designed specifically as assessments, teachers often assess "outside" the game. For example, a world history teacher may ask students to play Civilization V and then write an essay comparing the alternative history experienced in the game with actual history. In this case, the essay assessment happens after the gameplay, but the game forms the context of the assessment experience.

Topics: Assessments, game-based assessments

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5 Reasons Why Game-based Assessment is the Hottest New Trend in Education

Victoria Van Voorhis & Anne Snyder, Ph.D.

by Victoria Van Voorhis & Anne Snyder, Ph.D. on Nov 13, 2015 4:27:38 PM

Game based-assessment, or GBA, has been receiving a great deal of attention in both gaming and education circles. Unlike the tests that give students sweaty palms and sleepless nights, game-based assessments provide a fun new way of effectively examining learning. Based on our research and experience designing game-based assessments, we have found 5 core reasons why the next generation of students will be taking their tests with game controls instead of pencils.            

 

Topics: Game-based learning, Assessments

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Formative, Summative, Standardized? A Guide to Assessment Types

Victoria Van Voorhis & Anne Snyder, Ph.D.

by Victoria Van Voorhis & Anne Snyder, Ph.D. on Nov 6, 2015 3:24:40 PM

The word assessment has its origins in the Latin verb, assidere, which means "to sit with."  Ideally, this is exactly what an educational assessment does - it sits alongside a student as he or she learns, and gathers useful information about that learning. 

There are many forms of assessment, and they can be categorized according to when they are given and how they are used. It can get a bit confusing, so here we will break down several common assessment types found in today's classrooms: 

Topics: Assessments

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Assessments: Why Do We Test?

Victoria Van Voorhis & Anne Snyder, Ph.D.

by Victoria Van Voorhis & Anne Snyder, Ph.D. on Oct 30, 2015 2:51:11 PM


I've noticed a lot of discussion about testing recently. It seems like every day there is a story in the news about parents opting out of standardized assessments, school districts grappling with new test types, or analysts discussing test performance issues. With all of this talk, the true purpose of assessment is often obscured. 

So why do we test?  What is the point of assessment?

We like the definition provided in GlassLab’s recent publication on assessment, which states: 

Assessment is designing situations in which to obtain evidence about aspects of what students know and can do. 

Topics: Assessments

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Video Games and STEM: Engaging Girls through Innovative Play

Victoria Van Voorhis & Anne Snyder, Ph.D.

by Victoria Van Voorhis & Anne Snyder, Ph.D. on Oct 24, 2015 5:39:22 PM

“You’re going to stink at this, Danielle. You’re not good at science or math, remember?”I wasn’t supposed to hear this whispered insult, but I did.

It was a gray morning, and I was visiting an all-girls charter school in the heart of the city of Rochester. I had just introduced our Martha Madison physical science video games to the class.

The mere mention of the word science created an instant buzz, and it wasn’t a positive one.

The girls in this eighth-grade class, all age 13, and all from low-income households, had already shown me in earlier surveys that they were losing faith in their own abilities. Most indicated that they not only performed poorly in math and science, but actively disliked both subjects. 

4 Things Necessary for Motivation in Education

Victoria Van Voorhis & Anne Snyder, Ph.D.

by Victoria Van Voorhis & Anne Snyder, Ph.D. on Oct 16, 2015 12:48:00 PM

Just because you’re motivated to do something doesn’t mean you have to like it.

This was one of many gems that Dr. Bror Saxberg offered his audience in yesterday’s CIRCL webinar, and it has important implications for any of us who care about education. Drawing upon decades of empirical research in cognitive science and psychology, Dr. Saxberg, currently the Chief Learning Officer at Kaplan, Inc., reminded us that in order to feel motivated, we need to have four things in place.

Topics: learning

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