It's been about 4 months since we've started working on Learning Factory EDU as part of our combined effort with Games For Change. LF EDU a dedicated version of our most recent game, that allows kids to practice principles of the engineering design thinking process.
It implied not only a lot of game designing and developing, but also a lot of head scratching. What contribution can our game make into teaching STEM? How is it going to work? What would the lessons be like, if we were going to deliver this game to actual teachers?
Of course, it's the teachers who know the insides of the learning process. So, we have started asking around the educational community and even managed to involve awesome teachers into developing learning materials.
Now that we're almost halfway there, we can share with you all the vital details about how Learning Factory EDU is going to turn awesome for teachers!
TL;DR - What Is Learning Factory EDU
A lightweight version of Learning Factory — a game about building and automating a factory on Mars to produce and sell items to… well, cats
EDU version includes 10 lessons, which gradually teach children the basics of engineering practices and applying scientific approach to solving problems
Aimed for middle-middle school level
Designed as an out of the box solution: LF EDU comes with detailed teaching materials
Will be out by the end of summer
Free for everyone
How Does It Work (For Learners)
In Learning Factory EDU, a mysterious cat scientists named Dr. Katz invites the players to create a superior device that will help understand what cats really want. Three ingredients are required for that to happen:
Two of the former can be found at Learning Factory, and engineering thinking skills are to be acquired on the way, by going through the lessons. It implies asking questions, coming up with a hypothesis, conducting experiments and measuring results.
Future researchers will need to collect as much data about cat desires, as possible, in order to analyse and understand cats. In case of this game, it will require establishing production and sales of exquisite items to feline customers.
It all starts with repairing a transporter on the Factory, but things will escalate pretty fast and soon enough, players will find themselves building rather complicated sets of machinery:
Each lesson, learners will be facing new engineering tasks. How to automate production? How to meet the increasing demand for goods? How to scale production and deversify the stock of goods?
Each task is approached by applying engineering practices: defining the problem, developing possible solutions, optimizing them, and measuring the outcome based on data. And each successful experiment brings players/learners one step closer to building the superior Catisfaction Detector!
How Does It Work (For Teachers)
As for learning plans, we have decided that teachers know best what teachers need to plan a kick-butt lesson! That's why for Learning Factory EDU, we have teamed with a group of hi-tech centered educators called Geek Teachers. They are doing a great job, developing learning materials from a teacher's perspective, to make sure you don't have to spend any extra time on setting up your lessons in Learning Factory EDU (we know that teachers are a busy bunch, and for so many reasons!)
The game is designed to work as out-of-the-box solution. All you have to do to run it is download an archive, unpack it and launch the game.
In that very same archive, you'll find a detailed plan for each lesson, to help you set the framework for the lessons. Additionally, we'll provide a printable example of learner's worksheet, which will help the learners get into an engineer's mindset.
The lessons are designed to fit into standard timing of 40-45 minutes, out of which game time takes about 15-20 minutes. As the game progresses, learners will be introduced to increasingly complex concepts, each presented as a problem to be solved by applying engineering practices.
Learning Factory EDU is designed to meet the NGS Standards, namely the subsection MS-ETS1:
Who Is Making It
At Luden.io, we're but simple game developers, so to make EDU version happen, we had to make sure we have actual teachers on board. We already have introduced a merry bunch of tech-savvy educators called Geek Teachers.
Together, we are iterating on a daily basis, with Geek Teachers developing the design of lessons and writing guidelines for teachers. We have already finished with the first 5 lessons (+1 introduction lesson), and counting!
But these are not our only allies! Thanks to our amazing friends from The Communities Show, we're releasing weekly videos, in which we discuss our progress and talk to amazing educators! Here's one in which we talk with Kate from Geek Teachers about how we the lessons are being developed:
How to Join the Fun
In just a few days, we will start playtesting our game with teachers and learners from the US and other countries. Subscribe to our newsletter to get the link to the first early version in just a couple of days!
If you happen to be a teacher, then we have even better news! You can help us make Learning Factory EDU even more efficient and comfortable for you by playing the game and providing us with feedback. We want to make a game that would help teachers engage their learners in a fun way, and this is your chance to make sure Learning Factory EDU fits perfectly into your daily routines and your classroom! Just drop us a line in the comments or at firstname.lastname@example.org
Or maybe you are already practicing game-based learning? In this case, we invite you to become a guest of one of our podcast episodes! We'll make sure your story will be heard, because we are positively sure that this world needs more teachers familiar with the power of video games! So please, don't be a stranger and contact us using the same address, email@example.com
Join us on the cool side of education! We'll be in touch 😽