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As game-based learning becomes more and more popular, teachers are increasingly in favor of collecting evidence of games for the learning process. Game developers at GlassLab, a non-profit organization, hope New shsat they can prove the usefulness of games using SimCity as an example.

GlassLab collaborates with commercial game companies and experts who have worked together to develop virtual learning platforms for sixth grade students. The project is preparing to see the light of autumn 2013. It is built on the same principles as SimCity, but contains additional specific innovations.

“The vulnerability of education is that teachers cannot entertain children the way they entertain outside the classroom,” says Jessica Lind, CEO of GlassLab. “Teachers want to be useful in learning, but they can’t compete with the variety of digital devices that children have constant access to.

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“None of the other games trying to accomplish the same task have reached the same level as us. They don’t check if they are evaluating what should be evaluated.

Teachers have been using the commercial version of SimCity as an educational platform for a long time, but with the latest version developed – EDU, GlassLab will try to unite teachers already working with these technologies. The game will set a creative vector of development, offer new plans for lessons, make cooperation between students and teachers more productive.

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SimCityEDU is the result of research by the MacArthur Foundation on how games can reflect the existing evaluation system. According to the research, it is more effective to assess a student in the process of learning, rather than at the end of any block, as is traditionally the case in most schools. The research has proved that it is more reasonable to collect data on who is receiving education, how the process is progressing, how exactly a person makes decisions and makes choices that determine the result of learning. In the game system, players move to the next level when they have dealt with the previous one, when all the necessary skills and knowledge have been learned. The same concerns teachers – it is easier for them to understand whether the pupil understands everything when training is built on levels.

The SimCityEDU game, funded by the Gates and MacArthur funds, will bring the assessment system in line with general government standards. The EDU version uses the same algorithm as the previous version, but adds an assessment method that evaluates and analyzes the student’s choices in a given situation.

Currently the work is underway to finalize the game – GlassLab uses focus groups to process the results and communicating with students as feedback.

Children involved in the research are “fascinated by what’s happening around them,” Lindle says.

Students will be asked to discuss issues, explore the topic in order to make decisions about building a certain type of power plant in the city.

During the game, they will be provided with photographic and other documentation, based on which students will draw conclusions, draw tables, and make decisions by interpreting the data. The game will evaluate every action – every choice and decision. In this way, the teacher will have a tool to see if an individual child meets the level set by the state standard.

The development team also hopes that the additional data provided by the game will tell the teacher when to intervene in the learning process and help the student. For example, if the pupil receives contradictory data in the research, the teacher can tell him that the data can be processed in a different way, so the pupil will come to the right conclusions. SimCityEDU will not be released on the market until an independent expert, SRI International, confirms that the data obtained from the game are reliable. Special research and tests will be conducted for this purpose.

GlassLab plans to offer its downloadable game to teachers and schools for a small fee. Lind says that within the global gaming industry SimCityEDU departs from traditional commercial plans (such as Minecraft – the application of Minecraft in education), this game has slightly different goals and action. The free game form offers experience thanks to which it is possible to improve quality of the lessons considerably.

“We want the teacher to be able to choose between general information about the learning process and more focused, with more details, like intelligence. If a decision is made to purchase an extended version of the game, the license will cost about $60. But both the first and the second version cost much more than the set prices, because in this product is concentrated experience, and many will be ready to pay for it.