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Start Gamifying Now With the Kodu Challenge

April 2nd, 2013 by

Educating students through the use of games has been around for years. In the last couple of decades games were used to deliver content in an engaging, interactive way that helped students moved along at their own pace (remember the Oregon Trail)? Today, gamification is a buzzword that has a lot of momentum behind it.  Top researchers have proven that games are indeed an effective educational tool, but the next level of games in education means more than playing them: it means creating them. Creating games for students begins their journey into coding, and by this time all STEM educators know that coding is a high level, highly marketable skill that is severely under served in schools today. Creating games involves the highest levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy, as students play out multiple outcomes to different scenarios that they create on their own. They need to learn a new language (programming) and apply it using mathematical relationships to develop virtual worlds. Teachers watch with amazement as their classroom coders learn to push through problems and feel intrinsic rewards for completing hard work seldom seen in other areas .  Getting students interested in coding through competitive game design is a simple way to bring more kids up to speed on coding. There is a set time frame with clear goals. Coding tools are generally provided for free, as is support for learning the basics. For those students who are truly just starting out, a more visual language is desirable. Kodu is a new visual programming language by Microsoft that is easily learned by every student. It runs on the Xbox and is specifically designed for the creation of games. The Imagine Cup Kodu Challenge is a competition that runs through May 17th, and there are numerous cash prizes for winners, and a trip to Russia as a grand prize.  Bringing gamification into your classroom has never been easier. Students will be engaged in a real world STEM project that serves as a launch pad to bring on more interest in coding. They will be challenged to think  hard, work efficiently and learn collaboratively as they share what they are doing in the classroom and beyond. Maybe one of them will create their own version of an Oregon Trail-like game that future students remember from their youth. Now that is progress in the right direction.

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