GameUp with BrainPOP

Game-based learning is an emerging educational technology that the NMC has been tracking since the early days of the Horizon Project, and it is one that garners more and more devotees with each passing year.  There’s no doubt about it; games work in the classroom. An abundance of research shows that when effectively incorporated into the curriculum, educational games spark excitement and curiosity in learners from all levels. 

At the forefront of this movement is BrainPOP®.  Founded in 1999, BrainPOP offers animated, cross-curricular online content including movies, quizzes, activities, and now, the free online games portal GameUp™. BrainPOP’s free online professional community – BrainPOP Educators – is 200,000 members strong and offers support materials that help teachers make the leap from traditional to transformative methods of teaching. Their web presence is very user-friendly as is their robot (you may have seen Moby schmoozing at ed tech conferences), welcoming teachers and students into foreign gaming territory. 

With the 2011 launch of GameUp™, BrainPOP has expanded its reach further into the realm of edu-gaming. GameUp features top online educational gaming titles as well as support and supplementary materials to educators. GameUp titles come from an impressive collection of organizations such as Nobelprize.org®, iCivics, JASON Project, Mangahigh, and National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, to name a few. One of the most exciting features of GameUp is that free access to games and other curriculum resources allow teachers to introduce high-quality, specialized games to their students at no cost. 

Among the titles featured on GameUp is a civics-themed game called “Budget Hero,” which was developed by American Public Media and the Wilson Center . This simulation puts the player in the shoes of the top policy-makers in the United States as they balance the budget by weighing priorities including the environment, school funding, and energy without going bust. 

Also featured is “Cell Command” by Filament Games, a game where players are inducted into a fleet that traverses cell walls, completing missions such as encoding amino acids in ribosomes or supervising digestive enzymes in mitochondria. Even adults with a few minutes to spare could play “The Blood Typing Game” by NobelPrize.org® and figure out how lab technicians identify blood types and how blood transfusions are carried out. No matter the subject area, each game exemplifies the overwhelming potential game developers have to help people grasp complex topics in a way that is interactive and lends itself to organic learning.

For teachers who want to initiate game-based learning, BrainPOP offers a number of resources to explain the theory and practice of educational gaming — the most visual examples are a number of case studies that show what integration looks like in a K-12 environment. Each video is essentially a conversation with an educator about how they are adapting games to suit their particular purposes and learning objectives. Whether the teachers are building on a project-based curriculum with fourth graders or working with middle school students with disabilities, every case study gives the viewer a clear picture of the benefits and challenges that come with this new way of engaging students.

With all of the resources and support websites BrainPOP provides its users, game design and development are gaining more traction in academia and moving closer on the horizon. 

>See what else BrainPOP offers its users!

 

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