Learning Factory EDU: It's A Wrap
A Wild Ride Towards Playful Education
It's been more than half a year since we've embarked on a quest of making an educational version of Learning Factory. We have spoken to dozens of teachers, learners and EDU entrepreneurs, and perhaps the most common conclusion about modern education that we've been hearing: it needs to be improved.
The world around us is changing faster than average classroom can adapt to it, and it shows. To quote one very bright, actual, present day learner from our podcast episode:
“One of [our] teachers used an old text book from, like, the 90s or the 80s… That was the time when Pluto was still considered a planet!”, - Max, 11 years
NB: If you're an aspiring EDU games developer, don't hesitate to check the full list of episodes of our podcast, in which we talk with renowned educators and ed-tech entrepreneurs
We at Luden.io understand that games are a big part of modern youth's life, so it only makes total sense of making them part of schools everyday life.
Another important fact that we've learned was that teachers are very, very busy, and their everyday work doesn't leave too much time for innovating and experimenting with new stuff.
With Learning Factory EDU, we've tried to address both of these issues. And boy, did that give us a lot to think about!
The main version of the game is already doing its job in terms of educating the players, helping visualize supply and demand phenomena and learning how machine learning can be applied for creating balanced production chains. The question was: exactly how can this fit into a classroom without disrupting the current learning process.
Naturally, we couldn't have done it without referring to professionals, so this was when we teamed up with Geek Teachers project and started brainstorming the task along with experienced curriculum designers. At the same time, we started approaching educators from around the world, looking to find an angle from which our game could fit into educational standards.
Eventually, we have decided to stick to Next Generation Science Standards system, namely in the part that talks about engineering design. It involves applying the basics of scientific method to practical problem solving, which seemed exactly what Learning Factory was all about. In this game, you get to face a never-ending flow of rather demanding cat customers, who have dozens of wants and needs, which become more complex and diverse as you develop your cat-studying Factory.
Armed with our recently developed scenario editor, we have created 10 dedicated lessons which would take a player/learner through a journey of trial, error, experiments and improvement. At first, they would need to harvest Cotton Plants and manually delivering it to a Store. But by level 10, players would operate a complex production cluster, which would be using machine learning model of linear regression to help setting optimal prices for a variety of goods.
All that, of course, was dedicated to a very important goal: generating enough data so infinitely curious Dr. Katz could train a machine learning model1 and use it in his Catisfaction Detector - a superior device which could predict wishes of cats.
Thanks to our allies from Geek Teachers, all levels were aligned with MS-ETS1 section of NGSS: each time, the learners would go through the process of identifying a problem, searching for possible solutions, conducting experiments and, collecting and reflecting upon data and making necessary alterations to their plan, if that particular solution didn't work.
To alleviate as much work from teachers’ shoulders as we could, we have structured this process in our lesson plans. Demanding how much time a teacher has to prepare for a lesson, they could work as out-of-the-box scenario, but mostly they were designed to serve as a template, which each teacher would then adapt to their classroom needs.
Learning Factory EDU contents:
The game itself (for PC/Mac/Linux)
Lesson plans (text version)
Lesson plans (presentation version)
Slide images / background music for setting mood in class
Printable sticker images
The cherries on top are presentations for lesson plans and learners’ workbooks, that contain exercises, tables and scientific facts, to let the teacher switch activities and not let the learners spend their whole lesson by a screen.
Everything is set for applying Learning Factory EDU to teaching STEM in classrooms, but our job is far from being done. We need you, the teachers, to try applying this game in your classrooms and sharing your feedback, so we could make the game better fit your teaching goals. At this stage, we're already conducting play tests in selected schools in the US and Australia, and you can join the process, by contacting us at any time!
October 5 marks the celebration of Teacher's Day in Russia, but we would like to celebrate all educators around the world for doing their awesome job! By all means, let's team up and make the future of education both fun and cutting edge!
Games for Change - for making this whole think possible, for their endless support and belief in our common mission
Geek Teachers - for providing in-depth expertise and helping us structure a humble indie game into educational experience
Our guests from the same podcast episodes: for sharing their time and insights
Machine learning model is added as extra content, no data science knowledge required for playing