Five digital games finding a place in the classroom

A child plays ST Math on a tablet computer.
A child plays ST Math on a tablet computer. MIND Research Institute

Digital learning games are not new, but their impact on education is growing. Here are a five games or platforms, some widely known, some not:

Minecraft, a virtual building-block game that has sold millions of copies, is becoming popular with educators. Microsoft/Xbox

Minecraft: A wildly popular building-block title that is now the best-selling computer game of all time, Minecraft allows players to roam and build freely in an open world. Educators have found inventive uses for the game for several grade levels, from basic problem-solving to the staging of an opera within the game.


Spatial-Temporal (ST) Math: Classrooms in 2,500 schools across the country are using this math game created by MIND Research Institute. It uses visuals to teach visual puzzle-solving to teach math skills. Players have to help a penguin named JiJi cross from one side of the screen to the other. The game’s widespread popularity and success with K-12 students is described in “The Game Believes in You: How Digital Play Can Make Our Kids Smarter,” a recent book on digital games by USA Today national education reporter Greg Toppo.

Blizzard Entertainment

World of Warcraft: This popular multi-player online game is seeing use in English and humanities classes. In Suffern, N.Y., middle school teacher Peggy Sheehy adapted a English language arts curriculum she developed with fellow educator Lucas Gillipsie to apply to her humanities class, with quests tied to Common Core standards.

Flechas, Joey - Miami

TurtleDiary: A Miami-based website with games and activities geared toward pre-K to 5th grade children covering subjects like math, science and reading. The website is free and sustained by advertising. Parents can pay a fee to remove the ads, which are kid-friendly.

Screenshot of gameplay from “Zoo Rush.” NERDLab/Interactive Media MFA program in the School of Communication at the University of Miami

Zoo Rush: A smartphone application about a zoo keeper with sickle cell disease who has to chase down escaped animals. Developed by University of Miami professor Clay Ewing and his students, the game explains life with sickle cell in a through an endless-runner style game.

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