Boise State’s First Start-Up is a Go

Reprinted from the Idaho Statesman, June 20, 2013
Reporter: Kris Rodine
http://www.idahostatesman.com/2013/06/19/2623831/bsus-first-startup-is-on-the-go.html

Conceived on campus, a game-based teaching platform branches out as a private business

By KRISTIN RODINE — krodine@idahostatesman.com

When she first heard of 3D GameLab, high school language arts teacher Bonnie Warren was intrigued, but a little suspicious.

“I had a lot of questions about it being too gamified,” she said. “So I took their summer teacher’s camp and I got sold.”

Shortly after completing the camp last summer, Warren was one of 500 teachers across the nation and beyond who used the game-based system in their classrooms for beta testing of the new learning platform.

“Kids do a lot more work under it than the previous grading system and they do better work,” said Warren, who teaches 10th graders at South Fremont High School in St. Anthony. “Anything that’ll get my kids interested, I’m all about that.”

Created by two World of Warcraft-loving professors in Boise State University’s Department of Educational Technology, 3D GameLab uses a gaming format that helps students learn as they work their way through lessons in virtually any subject or grade level.

Now the software has spun off into a business led by one of GameLab’s founders. Former department chairwoman Lisa Dawley left Boise State in July to form GoGo Labs and be its CEO. The platform debuted in the marketplace May 1.

Dawley’s business is the first startup company launched by Boise State. President Bob Kustra heralded it as “a great byproduct of … the mechanisms now in place to encourage entrepreneurship on our campus.”

Dawley’s co-founder, Chris Haskell, remains at Boise State but is active in GoGo as principal researcher. The technology still belongs to the university.

Boise State owns the patent and the software, which is now licensed to GoGo Labs.

“It’s the same thing as if you worked at Micron – what you invent when you’re there is theirs,” said Mary Andrews, Boise State’s director of university and industry ventures.

“We (GoGo) have global exclusive rights to the technology, to turn it into a business,” Dawley said.

It took about seven months to work out the licensing agreement, which outlines how much profit will go to GoGo and how much to the university, she said, declining to reveal the breakdown.

“A significant portion” of Boise State’s share will go to the inventors, Dawley and Haskell, Andrews said. Some will go to cover expenses such as copyright and patent fees. The rest will help fund investigation of other opportunities for university entrepreneurs, she said.

“She (Dawley) has proven there’s a market for it,” said Andrews. “She has revenue and that speaks volumes. She’s getting repeat traction in the marketplace.”

HOW THE SOFTWARE WORKS 

Teachers build quests that students will use to reach learning goals. Students follow the quests, rising through levels and earning badges. The learner is the hero of a quest.

Warren started the school year with 83 quests to share with students and ended up with 953, most of which she built herself.

Students don’t move to the next quest until they get the previous one right, and complex tasks and lessons are “scaffolded” into numerous quests that help students feel momentum and success as they proceed, Warren said.

She described one assignment she gave her 10th-graders, to write a paper about how Macbeth changed through the course of Shakespeare’s play.

“This is literary analysis and that’s hefty stuff,” Warren said. But using GameLab, students who would normally balk embraced the task and did “A” work.

“It took 13 quests to get the paper built,” she said. “They do it in chunks and they know each chunk is right when they’re done.”

MORE TIME FOR FEEDBACK

If people think a game-based learning platform isolates students with their computers rather than fostering teacher interaction, those people should think again, Warren said. Her students work without computers more than they do with them, she said. When they are on laptops, they derive ample input from each other and their teacher. Warren monitors their progress through the quests and suggests revisions as they go.

The GameLab platform keeps track of student progress and results, freeing the teacher from recording grades for each exercise.

“I’ve never had time to give that much feedback before,” Warren said. “I was too busy managing the paper load. Now the system does it for me.”

A FIRST FOR BSU

More startups are in the works at Boise State, Andrews said, but the process is slow and the time frame uncertain. She said the most fertile ground for intellectual property with commercial potential tends to be in three areas: materials science and engineering, sensor development and computer platforms, and biomolecular science and chemistry.

“Commercialization is not a core function of the university,” Andrews stressed. “Universities are here to educate and do research, and faculty are here to teach and do research.

“However, with our growing research and the growing entrepreneurial culture, we have the beginnings of an infrastructure to support those activities,” she said, “and the innovation and licensing bring benefits back to the community and Idaho.”

REFINING THE PRODUCT

The company holds online teacher camps to help educators learn how to use the gaming platform and build quests. Teachers must pay $245 each for a one-year membership that delivers access to the system and additional teacher camps.

This summer the company plans to start offering monthly memberships. Later, it plans to sell GameLab access for schoolwide or districtwide use.

Haskell used an early version of 3D GameLab in his educational technology classes and reported students using the platform did better, and worked more quickly, than their counterparts in a traditional classroom. And more than 65 percent of the students kept on questing even after they’d done everything necessary to earn an A in the course, he wrote as part of his doctoral work.

DAWLEY HOPES TO SELL

The plan for 3D GameLab was always to commercialize it in some way, Dawley said, with an expectation that a larger company will buy it in a few years.

“This is a bridge to help ready it for sale,” she said. “It could happen in two years, but we’re told to be prepared for it to take five to seven years.”

About 700 teachers in 13 countries have used the platform so far, with 300 more joining in July, she said. California has the largest number of teachers who have adopted GameLab, with Idaho second and North Carolina third. In Arizona, about 13 faculty members at Maricopa Community College use it.

TEACHER HOOKED

“Does it work for everyone? No, nothing does,” Warren said. “But it works for more students and better than anything else I’ve tried. I would not want to teach without 3D GameLab again.”

Kristin Rodine: 377-6447

NYC Gap App Challenge Finalist

Screen Shot 2013-06-17 at 12.20.38 PMHey friends, good news from the fine folks at NYC Gap App Challenge!  3D GameLab has been named as a finalist, and as such, we qualify to partner with schools in NY City to prototype and develop innovative quest-based curriculum and training inside 3D GameLab.

Will you help us spread the word to your colleagues in NYC schools?  We’d love to have another innovative partnership to do something amazing and extreme for kids!

NOAA Planet Stewards launches July 1st!

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and GoGo Labs is proud to announce the July 2013 launch of Planet Stewards, quest-based learning and science career pathway badges for middle and high school students.  Planet Stewards encourages students to explore 15 career pathways such as Marine Biologist, Severe Weather Forecaster, Coastal Manager, and Volcanologist. Students access real-time data, use NOAA forecasting tools, and engage in applied scientific inquiry.  Quests are aligned to the Next Generation Science Framework.

Teacher training begins July 1, and requires approximately 10-15 hours of asynchronous online training, supplemented with optional live video conferencing events.  Up to 500 middle and high school science teachers will be accepted at no cost.  Participating teachers earn a NOAA Teacher badge.  Optional professional development credit is available.  For more information, see:  http://noaaplanetstewards.org

Digital Badges: Lessons Learned

Digital Badges: Lessons Learned | edWeb FreeWebinar, Register at http://ow.ly/lHuu9 

Monday, June 10, 2013, 2 MT/4 ET

Presented by Lisa Dawley, Ph.D., CEO of GoGo Labs &
Julie Stratton, teacher at Cape May County Technical High School in New Jersey

3D GameLab

Are you considering digital badge implementation in your school or classroom? In edWeb Community’s next webinar, Go-Go Labs’ Lisa Dawley will share her experience over the last year, designing, implementing, and evaluating Mozilla open badges with high school students and teachers around the country. Teacher Julie Stratton will share lessons learned through her experience with NOAA Planet Stewards, a high school science career pathways badges project, so you can more easily add digital badges to your own program or curriculum. You’ll gain insight into strategies for partnering with technology and content providers as well as for using Mozilla open badge function. We’ll also look at curriculum design considerations and student motivation to earn badges (or not!) Join Lisa and Julie on June 10th to learn how to implement digital badges with your students.

A Rubric for Gamification of Learning?

Grace Windsheimer teaches Computer Applications Online at Columbia Gorge Community College in Oregon. Grace recently designed two new introductory computer applications courses in 3D GameLab, a quest-based learning platform that uses game mechanics likes quests, rewards, badges, and player cards to support personalized and mastery learning. Her school is a QM (Quality Matters) institution, so each new online course undergoes a review by trained QM reviewers at the school to ensure it meets standards for online learning.

Paula Ascher, Distance Learning and Instructional Technology Coordinator at the school was a reviewer on Grace’s course. As she reviewed the class using QMs rubric, she realized that there were aspects of quality “gamification” that weren’t present in the rubric, so she began to create some of those herself. This led to a larger discussion among EDUCAUSE’s Games & Learning Constituent Group, including Deb Adair, from Quality Matters.

Take a look at Paula’s Gamification Rubric in-progress, and let her know what you think!

For comments, you can reach Paula directly at PAscher@cgcc.cc.or.us
To learn more about 3D GameLab: http://3dgamelab.com

The Power of Quest-Based Learning

This last week has been an interesting ride as we began working with director Brett Smith to create a series of videos that help define the features of 3D GameLab.  We had a lot of fun on the set where I learned Chris is not only an excellent teacher, speaker, and researcher, but he’s also a great actor!

Brett has worked with us in the past, and we are extremely thankful to have his talents as a Hollywood movie and game trailer producer.  Check out his show reel, and you’ll see why Brett is perfect for helping us translate a cool educational experience into a videos that work for today’s educators.

Enjoy!



Fun on the Set

We had a great shoot on the set of 3D GameLab yesterday, as we’re preparing informational videos to launch our new website.

Many thanks to Tri-Digital Group for allowing us to use their awesome studio in Boise, and providing the talents of Tony Anderson to shoot the video.  Director Brett Smith did a fantastic job leading the team through the day, and working on post-production.  We can’t wait to see the final videos!

Check out some outtakes of Dr. Chris.  Just for fun.