Navigating a time-traveling hedgehog through Rome and Egypt or battling bad guys to save "Mr. X" may sound like games developed by major corporations, but they're not.
Instead, they're being created by Randolph County students through Globaloria, an innovative program that provides an opportunity to learn about the Adobe Flash computer program, a variety of academic subjects and life skills.
Wednesday marked the first nationwide Digital Learning Day - also acknowledged in West Virginia by a proclamation from Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin. It was observed by Tygarts Valley Middle/High School students, educators and parents in cooperation with Globaloria. Digital Learning Day was created to celebrate any instructional practices that effectively utilize technology to strengthen students' learning experience.
The Inter-Mountain photo by Carra Higgins
Tygarts Valley High School junior and award-winning game developer Tyler Gum, right, helps eighth-graders Kaylee Haney, left, and Lacey Conrad, center, create a Flash game that focuses on the solar system. The students celebrated Digital Learning Day Wednesday by showing the public what they’ve been learning in their Globaloria technology classes. More photos can be found at cu.theintermountain.com.
Deborah Super, Globaloria director of partnerships and operations, was among those visiting the school to see the students' work and talk with them about what they've been learning.
The first stop of the day was Diane White's business class. White began teaching Globaloria's curriculum two years ago. Since then, she said her students have drawn characters for their games, practiced critical thinking and worked closely with their peers.
TVHS juniors and students in White's class, Jacob Currence and Tyler Gum, are developing a game about rescuing "Mr. X" from arms dealers by solving math problems.
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They said the coding and artwork are only a portion of what they've learned through Globaloria.
Currence explained the gaming projects also involve teamwork, learning more about subjects to ensure proper answers, citing sources and being creative because students cannot use copyright-protected material.
Currence and Gum, along with Jarred Bowers, comprised the team that won first place at last year's state-level contest in civics category game design. The trio won for Henry the Hedgehog, which teaches its players about the U.S., Rome and Egypt and their governments and history.
Steve Currence, Jacob Currence's father, was one of the parents on hand to see the students' work Wednesday.
"I love it," Steve Currence said of the Globaloria projects, adding that he hopes his son will continue on that path of study. "I wish he'd do it for a career."
In addition to White's high school class, middle school students in Melissa Walters' and Mollie Ferguson's class also are involved Globaloria.
Walters and Ferguson learned about Flash and the goals of Globaloria during a summer workshop, and White serves as their mentor.
In Ferguson's classroom on Wednesday, students worked on their learning-based games, which included focuses on the solar system and obesity.
"I've loved seeing the ideas the students come up with," Ferguson said. "They've learned collaborative skills and how to be good digital citizens."
Because the work involves the use of Wikis and posting to blogs, students interact with thousands of others across the national Globaloria network.
Donna Trammell visited Ferguson's classroom to see the work her son, Joey Trammell, has been doing for his Globaloria class. Trammell said keeping up with technology and integrating that into instruction are especially good projects for rural areas.
"It's pretty interesting," she said. "I think it's what kids need."
Joey Trammell said he enjoys playing video games, and creating his own has given him a new appreciation for developers.
"I didn't think it was this much work," he said.
Globaloria, invented by the World Wide Workshop, began in 2006 and is the first and largest social learning network where students develop digital literacies; science, technology, engineering and mathematics knowledge; and global citizenship through game design.
More information and games created by students can be found at www.globaloria.org.
Contact Carra Higgins by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.