Test Preparation: Make it Legendary

We’re just about halfway through the fall term, which means one thing: test preparation. I’m sure you can already hear your students groaning.

There is good news for your students! One of the most popular ways to use Legends of Learning is to review content before a test. Building a playlist of games and assessment questions is like creating an animated study guide: you choose the content for students to review, and they see it in action. Meanwhile, realtime analytics let you evaluate how well they understand the material.

Let’s take a look at an example. Say you’re preparing for an upcoming test on photosynthesis.

Once you’ve started a new playlist draft within the Photosynthesis Learning Objective, click on a game and review its “Game Curriculum” tab before dragging it. That way you can quickly vet which ones best highlight your concepts of focus.

The discussion questions here are great for asking your students, whether for individual or group review. They challenge your students to think critically about the topic by situating games in the proper educational context, leading to a rich, engaging experience in the days before a test. Many teachers who use Legends of Learning love discussing these questions with a group of students. When students collaborate and get excited about learning through games, knowledge retention increases.

 

 

Placing assessment questions before and after gameplay give you great insight into how well your students comprehend the material. In this example, Ms. Rose and Photosynthesis! discusses the conditions necessary for photosynthesis to occur in plant cells. By comparing your students’ pre and post game answers, you immediately see how much further review students’ need on this concept.

Assessment question analytics are broken into both individual and class-wide data, so the scale of concept comprehension is apparent. If it appears from the post game questions that the entire class is struggling with the conditions surrounding photosynthesis, you have the ability to pause everyone’s games and discuss points of confusion. Class time is more efficient with your instruction becoming more targeted to the concepts that need more review.

 

 

The view below further illustrates this test prep tactic. In this example, only 30% of the students have correctly answered a question about where the energy for life on earth comes from, so you know to emphasize that concept more in future review.

 

 

After a playlist ends, all of its question data is automatically saved. Teachers use this feature to examine which topics individual students struggle with and curate upcoming review to meet their individual needs. Completed playlists can easily be cloned and adjusted to build upon past review. For optimizing individualized test preparation, teachers love to create multiple tracks within a playlist.

As an example, if one group of students has a solid grasp on the material, assign them to a track that only contains a couple of games and assessment items and leaves more time for free play of games within the learning objective. For other groups that need additional reinforcement, build tracks that include more directed games and assessments.

Playlists are a powerful, flexible tool for any stage of review. Use Legends of Learning for superpowered test preparation and watch as student performance improves by leaps and bounds.

Log in and take a fresh approach to science reviewing!

Study: Students Win When Teachers Deploy Learning Games

Earlier this morning, Legends of Learning issued a press release about the Vanderbilt University study “Substantial Integration of Typical Educational Games into Extended Curricula.” The following is a version of this research.

In the largest study of its kind, researchers found students boosted their test scores by the equivalent of over half a letter grade in three weeks when their teachers used digital games in the classroom. The new research, published by Journal of the Learning Sciences, demonstrates the benefits of game-based learning for students when compared to students who had no access to such games.

Substantial Integration of Typical Educational Games into Extended Curricula,” was co-authored by researchers at Vanderbilt University and involved more than 1,000 students of 13 teachers in 10 diverse urban, suburban and rural schools in seven states (get the executive summary here). The educators integrated a standards-aligned set of 55 typical educational games into their curricula. Each teacher taught at least one class with the games and one class without.

The research found students in the classes with the games outperformed their peers on essay and multiple choice questions. It also found:


  • Engagement increased. Teachers reported dramatic increases in engagement among students who learned with the games.

  • Teachers enthused. Ninety-two percent of teachers who used the education games said they would like to use similar games again because of the impact on student performance and engagement.

Researcher and co-author Douglas Clark, professor, Vanderbilt University’s College of Education and Human Development, says, “The results highlight the potential of digital games for enhancing instruction, particularly in light of the teachers strongly positive experiences and interest in continuing to use games like these in the future. This study is important because it is based on data collected with a large set of games used by teachers in extended curricula across multiple school districts.”

Two of his co-authors, Dr. Vadim Polikov, a research scientist, and Aryah Fradkin, a former teacher, tapped into the results to launch Legends of Learning. The online platform is now home to thousands of curriculum-based education games and assessment items for middle school earth and space science, life sciences and physical science curricula. Teachers across the U.S. are using the same kind of standards-aligned games validated by the study to raise engagement and test scores. The games are available via the Legends of Learning site.

Dr. Polikov is presenting the findings next week at the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) Conference in San Antonio, Texas, on Monday, June 26. Legends of Learning will demonstrate its games and platform live at ISTE at booth 2632.

Some highlights from the Legends of Learning platform include:


  • Short games (5–25 minutes) that align to middle school science curriculum standards to ensure content engages and helps students succeed in their studies

  • An intuitive platform similar to Netflix and Amazon that makes games easy and natural to use in classrooms

  • A dashboard that allows teachers to observe student comprehension in real time, create game playlists for classes and individual students, and assess content mastery

  • A feedback loop that rewards game developers based on ratings given to their games by teachers and students, which allows the best games to rise to the top

The study was published in The Journal of the Learning Sciences (JLS), one of the top peer-reviewed academic journals for research on education and learning. JLS is ranked in the top 3 percent (5th out of 230) of all scholarly educational research journals as rated by Thomson Reuters, Journal Citation Reports®.

Summer School Science Content for Free

Let’s be honest. Summer school can be a drag for students. Why not liven up the classroom with middle school science games?

With Legends of Learning’s $100 in complimentary game coins and no obligations, teachers (and schools) have nothing to lose. In a period of six weeks, a class of 30 students could play a game every school day and there would still be extra credits left over.

Science games offer kids an opportunity to enjoy summer school a little more, and play games that facilitate learning and subject mastery. Teachers address NGSS and state standards while providing fun and engagement.

There are 900 games currently available in 90 lessons spanning Earth and Space, Life, and Physical Sciences learning objectives. If you are teaching any middle school science content, there is a game for you. Log in or create an account today, and explore our library.

Make summer school a more engaging experience than the average class. Your students will appreciate it, and their test scores will improve. Just press play.

P.S. If you are looking for more ways to make summer learning a fun experience, download our white paper, “How to Prevent Summer Learning Loss and Close Achievement Gaps.”

Legends of Learning in the News

1. District Administration – Science-focused platform and game content to be released
In March 2017, Legends of Learning released its educational games (edgames) platform in 100 middle schools across the country. The games meet the standards for middle school science curricula, and CEO Vadim Polikov conducted a 1,000-student study in partnership with Vanderbilt University to demonstrate the games’ efficacy and ability to engage students.

Polikov will facilitate additional surveys and studies to provide more evidence in support of the Legends of Learning methodology in the near future. He explains, “Educators’ time is at a premium now, so providing them with something that is demonstrably effective and easy to use has a far greater chance of being implemented.”

But don’t take his word for it. Talk to one of the hundreds of teachers in the Legends of Learning Ambassador program, or better yet, start using the platform and become an Ambassador yourself!

2. DC Inno – Oregon Trail-Inspired Startup Wants More Video Games In Schools
“Who would’ve thought that one day Oregon Trail would inspire someone to start a company?” asked Samantha Sabin, staff writer at DC Inno. She was amazed at how Legends of Learning co-founders Josh Goldberg, Geoff Livingston, and Vadim Polikov formed their educational technology (EdTech) company.

The three men hypothesized curriculum-based edgames could engage kids in learning, and tested the theory in conjunction with Vanderbilt University researchers prior to establishing the company. The study showed vast improvements in test scores for students who played the games. Once the results were in, Legends of Learning launched their edgames platform in March 2017.

3. USA Today – ‘Spotify for learning games’ coming to classrooms
On March 27, 2017, Legends of Learning launched its edgames platform, an easy-to-use interface featuring 900 middle school science games for today’s classrooms. The company calls the platform “Spotify for learning games.”

Game developers, or “artists,” create standards-based games for “listeners”—teachers, administrators, and students. Teachers can earn free access to the platform in exchange for providing the developers with feedback.

Additionally, schools can pay about $10 per student for a learning management system (LMS) that measures student progress in the games. USA Today calls the platform “an all-you-can-eat menu of games,” and teachers like Rebecca from upstate New York agree – students playing the games are hungry to learn!

4. Getting Smart – Innovation in Education Is More than a New Approach
CEO Vadim Polikov writes that Legends of Learning brings a new strategy to education innovation: academic research. He hypothesized that edgames could improve student engagement in the classroom and put the theory to the test with help from Vanderbilt University.

The study provided Polikov with the evidence needed to establish Legends of Learning, a company that provides an online edgames platform that teachers use to bring games into their classrooms. Polikov’s work also contributes to the broader academic literature, with potentially massive implications for the future of education.

Another huge point of emphasis is ease of implementation. With an idea like this, Polikov says, “When it is easy and obvious, the barriers to widespread acceptance are much lower.” Legends of Learning achieves this with its intuitive platform, which is easy to use for students and teachers alike.

5. WTOP – DC startup Legends of Learning aims to be ‘Netflix’ for educational games
Legends of Learning provides all the ease and entertainment of Netflix and Amazon with its online edgames platform, amplifying productivity, engagement, and learning in the classroom. The platform hosts 900 games and counting, all of which are based on curriculum standards – NGSS, TEKS, SOL, and more.

The Legends of Learning platform is free for teachers as long as they provide feedback to help developers improve the games. Schools have the option to track student progress for a low-cost subscription fee.

6. EdTech Mag – Q&A: Vadim Polikov’s Startup Brings Game-Based Learning to Science Class
EdTech Magazine asked CEO Vadim Polikov what inspired him to form Legends of Learning, an EdTech company that provides curriculum-based games for classrooms across the country. He replied with his own childhood experience, stating, “To this day, I don’t remember what I learned in eighth-grade history, but I am a history buff because I played Civilization.”

Polikov’s background as a research scientist led him to explore why the game impacted him so. He partnered with Vanderbilt University to assess how edgames affected students and learned that games truly do, qualitatively and quantatively, increase engagement and test sores.

7. Baltimore Sun – Legends of Learning raises $9 million for expansion
In April 2017, DC- and Baltimore-based EdTech startup Legends of Learning announced it had raised $9 million from investors, including the Baltimore Angels. Legends of Learning will use the funds to expand the platform and related services, such as analytics and tracking. The company will also add employees to grow its library of games into other school subjects and grade levels and to serve more schools.

8. Baltimore Business Journal – Former Astrum Solar exec raises $9M for edtech startup
Legends of Learning, a new EdTech startup in Washington, D.C. and Baltimore, closed a successful seed funding round totaling $9 million. The company offers an online platform for edgames – 900 of them, so far – supporting the middle school science curriculum. The seed money will be used to expand into other subjects and grade levels and to hire new company employees.

9. Potomac Tech Wire – “Today’s top story: Edtech Startup Legends of Learning Raises $9 Million in Seed Round”
A DC- and Baltimore-headquartered startup, Legends of Learning, reported $9 million in seed funding for its online education games platform. The platform features 900 games across the middle school science curriculum. The seed money will allow the company to expand into more grades and subjects, as well as conduct additional studies on game-based learning and its impact on student engagement and achievement.

10. DC Inno – The DC Inno Beat: NEW MONEY
Legends of Learning, a DC EdTech startup that offers learning games based on Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), is poised to grow. Thanks to a strong $9 million round of seed funding, the company will grow its staff from 14 employees to 30. It will also develop games for other grade levels and school subjects.

11. Technical.ly – DC edtech company Legends of Learning has raised $9 million in seed funding
In March 2017, EdTech company Legends of Learning released its online platform containing 900 middle school science games for the classroom. At the same time, it raised $9 million in seed funding. The funds are earmarked for growth; the company will be hiring new employees in the spring and summer to expand into subjects across all K-12 grade levels.

12. EdWeek – Do Digital Games Improve Children’s Math Skills?
Students in Florida’s Hillsborough County schools are showing improvements in math after using classroom games such as TiViTz. In addition to higher achievement, teachers are reporting increased enthusiasm among students playing these edgames.

A 2014 study showed that nearly three quarters of K-8 teachers nationwide are using digital games in their classrooms. Related studies, like the one conducted by Legends of Learning founder and CEO Vadim Polikov, have demonstrated strong positive correlations in student achievement – and enjoyment – with the use of digital edgames.

13. EdWeek Market Brief – K-12 Dealmaking: EVERFI Raises $190 Million; Legends of Learning, Marco Polo Raise Funds
Legends of Learning, a new edgames company that launched in March 2017, raised $9 million in its most recent round of seed funding. The company brings research-driven, curriculum-based games to schools.

Its 900 games cover a variety of middle school science topics. With the new funds, Legends of Learning will expand to more subjects throughout K-12 curricula.

14. EdSurge – New Research Proves Game-Based Learning Works—Here’s Why That Matters
In order to successfully implement game-based learning (GBL) in classrooms, edgames must engage students while also supporting curriculum standards. Prior to founding Legends of Learning – an education startup with a curriculum-based GBL platform – Vadim Polikov led an academic study with Vanderbilt University researchers to determine the efficacy of the company’s approach.

The study found that students who played edgames were more engaged in the classroom, and performed significantly better on standardized tests, than those who didn’t play. Polikov has a second, larger study in the works to continue to examine the efficacy of GBL. Research like this is critical in adopting of new, innovative techniques in the classroom, and advancing education in America.

15. EdSurge – How to Roll Out Game-Based Learning—and Boost Engagement—in Your Classroom
Before launching Legends of Learning, an EdTech startup that provides GBL content for classrooms, CEO Vadim Polikov teamed up with researchers at Vanderbilt University to conduct a control study with more than 1,000 8th grade student participants. Students who played the edgames demonstrated stronger understanding of classroom subject matter and scored higher on standardized tests than those who didn’t play. Teachers also reported that students – including those who were normally less engaged in class – had more organic conversations about the subject matter while playing, and had fun doing it!

16. EdSurge – Classroom Gaming Should Be Engaging, Tied to Curriculum—and Not Require Teachers to Code
In order for edgames to be effective, they must be easy for teachers to implement. This can only happen when the games supplement lesson plans with engaging, curriculum-based content.

New education startup Legends of Learning focuses on efficacy, delivering easy-to-use games that adhere to NGSS curricula and fit into short class periods. Before founding the company, Vadim Polikov partnered with Vanderbilt University researchers to conduct a large-sample control study.

The results were promising for both teachers and students, and led Polikov to launch Legends of Learning in March 2017. The company’s platform hosts 900 edgames, and teachers who use it say students are showing improved classroom engagement and better grasp of difficult concepts.

News: Readying Launch of Several Hundred Middle School Science Games

This is a copy of a news release issued today.

Legends of Learning getting ready to launch our online platform of several hundred curriculum-based science games for middle school earth and space science, life sciences, and physical science curricula later this month. The company was founded after the results from a forthcoming research study, “Substantial Integration of Typical Educational Games into Extended Curricula,” from Vanderbilt University revealed that short, simple education games aligned to curriculum standards improve student engagement and academic performance.

 

Founded by former research scientist Vadim Polikov, Legends of Learning stands for the principle that rigorous academic research needs to form the foundation of strategies that take blended learning techniques such as game-based learning to the next level. The wide-ranging study — more than 1,000 students in seven states and in schools with differing student bodies, socioeconomic factors and geographical locations — demonstrated statistically significant success.

One year later, Legends of Learning’s content platform and games are being tested and vetted by hundreds of teachers across the country in preparation for the official launch later this month. The company will demonstrate its platform and games at the National Science Teachers Association’s National Conference in Los Angeles, March 30-April 2, 2017.

More than 100 middle schools will use Legends of Learning in their classrooms when it launches. Scores of teachers using the platform will participate in a second study to demonstrate efficacy and best practices for blended learning with curricula endgames. The second study will be conducted by researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Vanderbilt University.

“Original research is critical to our education system’s overall success,” said Vadim Polikov. “I firmly believe that proving — or disproving — hypotheses with strong rigorous research is the best way to move education forward. One of the most crucial aspects for the education sector to adapt new methods is efficacy. Educators’ time is at a premium now, so providing them with something that is demonstrably effective and easy to use has a far greater chance of being implemented.”

Some unique aspects of Legends of Learning’s approach to education include:

  • Building games off existing middle school science curriculum standards to ensure content not only engages students but also helps them succeed in their studies;
  • Using an intuitive platform similar to Netflix and Amazon to make it easy and natural for teachers to use the games in their classrooms; and
  • Releasing a dashboard that allows teachers to observe student comprehension in real time.

Teachers interested in being part of the Legends of Learning Ambassador program can visit legendsoflearning.com/teachers. Legends of Learning will take 100 teacher ambassadors to the ISTE 2017 Conference & Expo in San Antonio, June 25-28. For more information about Legends of Learning visit legendsoflearning.com.

What Makes a Successful Game Based Learning Environment

The following is an excerpt from our new white paper Introduction to Game Based Learning. Download it today!

Few blended learning studies exist to date, but those that do highlight some best practices. Legends of Learning’s own GBL study, “Substantial Integration of Typical Educational Games into Extended Curriculum,” identifies several elements essential to overcoming challenges found in blended learning environments. They include the following three:

1. Student choice from a set of teacher-curated games
2. Competency-based game mechanics
3. Strong teacher instruction

A Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation RAND study, Interim Research on Personalized Learning, notes an additional four attributes common to successful blended learning environments. Jamee Kim and Wongyu Lee name two more characteristics in their study conducted at Korea University. The six cumulative characteristics are:

1. Learner profiles
2. Personal learning paths
3. Peer interaction
4. Competency-based progression
5. Flexible learning environments
6. High levels of teacher support for the digital material

The qualities further detail the three identified by Legends of Learning and Vanderbilt University in their collaborative study. The six also recall James Paul Gee’s 16 tenets, suggesting they build upon the best practices of the past while encountering the present and looking forward to the future.

Turning Curriculum into Interactive Game Content

However, true success with GBL cannot be limited to engagement alone. Games must help educators deliver lessons for them to have long-term value and impact. That means they must connect to the curriculum in some way, as well as support other learning goals related to the subject matter, lesson plan, or grade level.

Robert J. Marzano, who conducted a five-year study of game based learning, makes the argument in his findings. He says, “If games do not focus on important academic content, they will have little or no effect on student achievement and waste valuable classroom time.”

European researchers Venera-Mihaela Cojocariua and Ioana Boghiana also believe that games need to have a clear and understood role in the classroom. They state, “In order to exploit the advantages of using game-based learning in class, there is a clear need for standardization and regulation on the use of games in teaching-learning-evaluating.”

Legends of Learning and Vanderbilt University similarly tie GBL success to the rigors of learning. Their study shows that GBL efforts integrated with the classroom curriculum cause quantitative and qualitative improvements in content mastery as well as engagement.

Balancing engagement with content mastery remains a challenge. If students aren’t interested in the teacher-approved games, they won’t play them. Gee and other researchers note that games must be interesting and fun, while delivering educational content, for them to produce results.

In a productive GBL environment, learning and engagement operate hand-in-hand. One cannot succeed without the other.

As a result, educators will need to carefully evaluate games to make sure they both engage students and support the curriculum.

Get the entire white paper Introduction to Game Based Learning here!

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