SXSWedu 2014

Failing, sharing & data@PreK tablet games frontier

The Next Generation Preschool Math (NGPM) team spent two years iterating on a tablet-based preschool math supplement. Our multi-disciplinary team has debated the tensions inherent in designing games for learning: what does productive failure look like? What to do when game engagement trumps math learning? Can two four-year-olds really work together on a math task on a shared tablet? And what can all this data really do to support teachers and learning? This panel will bring together a researcher, a media producer, a teacher and a referee/moderator. We’ll reveal videos taken during two years of play testing, and our panelists will share reactions and often divergent interpretations. Our goal is to underscore the rich, nuanced and dynamic interplay required for developing educational games and show that despite the tensions inherent in this kind of development, the result of the dialectic is powerful new modes for incorporating learning with technology into preschool classrooms.

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  1. What does productive failure look like in an educational game? Can feedback attack a learning moment? Productive failure is key to videogame engagement. The panel will discuss tensions unearthed in NGPM: when is preschoolers’ failure productive, and when is it disheartening; what are the tradeoffs in failure due to game mechanics versus math knowledge?
  2. Can a game turn a tablet hog into a playful partner? Preschool children are naturally collaborative and social, and one of the goals of preschool is to prepare children for productive collaboration in elementary school. We have designed collaborative math games where preschool children share a single tablet, and we’ve seen tablet hogs as well as playful pairings. We will discuss implications for creating technology-based collaborative learning activities for preschoolers.
  3. What can data really do for you? There are great expectations for the analysis of student use data, as this data may allow fine-grained analysis of what students are doing and thinking as they play. We will discuss NGPM’s dogged data difficulties: how can we convert raw student performance data into a display that a teacher can use to gauge student understanding in real-time? How can we interpret data when very different social and cognitive factors may result in identical tracking data?



Christine Zanchi, Executive Producer, WGBH Educational Foundation

Meta Information:

  • Event: EDU
  • Format: Panel Discussion
  • Track: Social & Mobile Learning
  • Session Focus Area
  • Level: Intermediate
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