Best Educational Game

Recognizes the best game-based learning solution designed for PK-12 or higher education students. The winning solution enables users to learn or apply new concepts and skills, and better understand subjects being taught, through academically and pedagogically sound and rigorous (both in content and methodology) games. Gamified learning tools please nominate in the Best use of Gamification in Learning category.

OtherWordly, IDEA Games - IDEA Games

The game is a general literacy building game app for kids, non-native English learners, and fluent speakers/wordsmiths.
OVERALL PURPOSE 
Enter the vast cosmos of OtherWordly, a mesmerizing word game that combines the cleverness of a crossword puzzle with the agility of a matching game. Each level has a sun containing core words, and it's up to you to fling those core words into related orbiting words. Along the way, help friendly robots, aliens, space slugs, and other celestial creatures by harvesting life-giving energy to restore their galaxy of words. 
OtherWordly’s galactic word quest invites players to expand their vocabularies by flinging core words into related orbiting words within a visually dynamic, kinetic space. This is a word game about word meanings -- not spelling. 
This educational iOS app entices players to learn new words in order to complete each level, which consists of sets of synonyms, antonyms, and trivia. During and after gameplay, players can consult top-quality literature excerpts for word meaning and usage, leading to positive experiences with new and less common words. 
OtherWordly keeps players entertained in learning-by-doing with an enticing narrative, captivating characters, evolving challenges, and digital rewards.  
This peaceful puzzler adapts to players knowledge of English, making it perfect for everyone from children and non-native speakers to puzzle enthusiasts and expert wordsmiths. The game serves three audiences of casual mobile game players, as players differ in their vocabulary. A "kids" mode has words for grades 2-8, and kid-themed topics; a "learners" mode is adaptive, with 10 tiers of language difficulty and it adjusts to the fluency of the player; an "energizing" mode is for native speakers and is filled with challenging vocabulary. 
Summary of innovations: 
CONTENT: We built a massive thesaurus and thousands of conceptual topic maps based on the Library of Congress catalog. Our computer algorithm selected non-overlapping topics, which our content editor then handcrafted. This multi-year undertaking is unparalleled in game production. 
CONTEXT & FEEDBACK: We devised a pool of excerpts from literature and periodicals. OtherWordly incorporates two timeless game elements – missing letters and trivia – into a puzzle framework. We created an interactive narrative with charming characters, a mystery for players to unravel, and in-game rewards. 
ANIMATION: OtherWordly’s technologically innovative mechanics and programming draw players in, delivering smooth animations, captivating designs, and physics-based motion that feels natural on mobile devices. 
EVALUATION: OtherWordly is a testbed for controlled data collection because the thousands of small in-game actions can be analyzed for statistically significant calculations. Players typically replay a level a few times to win. Imagine a player who was unable to match the word “facetious” twice could look it up and then correctly match it to “jocular” the third time. Since we know the probability of luck-based shots, we can calculate aggregate improvements as percentages, reported to players. And for youth players, this progress is optionally reported by email to parents. 
LEARNING OBJECTIVES
The learning objective is boost player vocabulary, over the scale of millions of players. 
SMALL IMPACTS ON A LARGE AUDIENCE: Even those who play briefly each day get exposure to thousands of words monthly and more than 10,000 words annually. OtherWordly requires players to combine the necessary skills used in crosswords (word meaning, synonym knowledge, and cultural application) together with word puzzle skills (spelling and letter usage), and leverage those skills simultaneously. 
FILLING A GAP: OtherWordly engages people who would not otherwise expand their vocabulary and improve their diction. Beyond a core audience of word enthusiasts, we capture the attention of players who wouldn’t pick up a crossword or consult a dictionary. 
ACCESSIBILITY: Our game features many accommodations, including variable difficulties and speeds, low-vision and colorblind settings, an alternate font option for dyslexic players, screen-reader and Braille display support, and accessibility for players with motor difficulties. 
HAIKU: OtherWordly exposes players to cool, space-themed Haiku during the game’s pause screens. 
MEANINGFUL: OtherWordly is intellectual without being pedantic. 
We seek to help solve the critical problem of low literacy and low vocabularies. In the U.S., and UK's poorest communities, one in three people have literacy problems. Low literacy is intergenerational, so boosts within any age group have spillover benefits. Mobile phones and gameplay are now common across generations and social classes. Research supports the potential for video games with strong narrative and vocabulary to boost literacy. 
A typical 15-year-old knows 19,000 unique words (counting inflections like “quick/quickly” as one). By age 25, that rises to 25,000, and increases another quarter over a person’s lifespan. But there’s a broad range that is strongly correlated to years of schooling, socioeconomic background, and how much someone reads. For 25-year-olds, the gap between the lowest 20% and highest 80% is over 12,000 words. That gap in vocabulary impacts peoples’ ability to obtain and retain employment, to critically consume media, and to have nuanced conversations in a world that has an increasing number of text-based conversations.
WHY IT WORKS
Each level involves matching words with a synonym or related word while avoiding orbiting obstacles and ever-shifting letters that appear and disappear. Can you match FRUIT to A★PLE? Or FINESSE to EL★GAN★E? Learning rote vocabulary can be boring, but OtherWordly solves this problem by gamifying it. 
OtherWordly offers the player an engaging way to add to their active vocabulary and gain a deeper understanding of their existing vocabulary. Many people love to play arcade games on mobile devices, but they aren’t necessarily word buffs. OtherWordly entices them into the world of words. 
Most English speakers know between 20,000 and 35,000 words. Shakespeare’s entire corpus encompasses about 25,000 words, including at least 1,700 – like alligator, gossip, and hurry – that he invented or introduced. OtherWordly exposes players to 30,000 unique words, passages from 1,000 published works. 
For every in-game word, there’s an example of usage from a literary source. Those sources include Pulitzer prize-winning fiction and nonfiction works. 
In the early 1940s, Edgar Dale used a cone metaphor to describe how different methods of learning impact knowledge retention. “Doing” was most impactful, delivering a 90% gain. Gaming is an act of “doing,” and thus ranks higher than other modes of learning. OtherWordly, a game that requires the analysis and comparison of words and phrases, is likely to have a positive impact on a player’s cognitive ability to more effectively master language. 
OtherWordly isn’t intended to replace teachers, classroom learning, vocabulary lessons and books, curricula, or any other formal language learning. Vocabulary acquisition has myriad pedagogical practices and theories, many of which rely on “drill and kill” rote learning. In contrast, OtherWordly’s design includes thousands of topics and includes most native English speakers’ vocabulary. 
OtherWordly improves on the status quo in that most word games are really spelling games. Despite superficial similarity, OtherWordly is unrelated to games like Scrabble, Boggle with Friends, Words with Friends, and word searches, as their exclusive focus is on word recognition rather than word meaning. In contrast, OtherWordly provides vocabulary enrichment for players, with a goal of improving players’ knowledge and confidence in word meaning over the course of 30+ hours of gameplay. 
OtherWordly is the only word game that takes modern elements of gaming, such as dynamic graphics, special effects, powerups, and levels, and combines them with the tradition of crosswords, namely deciphering words by their meaning with letter clues. For that reason, there is no relevant comparison. In addition, OtherWordly has no physical corollary. Although the game is designed to feel natural and tactile, it is physically impossible to play the game in real life.
The game is a general literacy building game app for kids, non-native English learners, and fluent speakers/wordsmiths.
OVERALL PURPOSE 
Enter the vast cosmos of OtherWordly, a mesmerizing word game that combines the cleverness of a crossword puzzle with the agility of a matching game. Each level has a sun containing core words, and it's up to you to fling those core words into related orbiting words. Along the way, help friendly robots, aliens, space slugs, and other celestial creatures by harvesting life-giving energy to restore their galaxy of words. 
OtherWordly’s galactic word quest invites players to expand their vocabularies by flinging core words into related orbiting words within a visually dynamic, kinetic space. This is a word game about word meanings -- not spelling. 
This educational iOS app entices players to learn new words in order to complete each level, which consists of sets of synonyms, antonyms, and trivia. During and after gameplay, players can consult top-quality literature excerpts for word meaning and usage, leading to positive experiences with new and less common words. 
OtherWordly keeps players entertained in learning-by-doing with an enticing narrative, captivating characters, evolving challenges, and digital rewards.  
This peaceful puzzler adapts to players knowledge of English, making it perfect for everyone from children and non-native speakers to puzzle enthusiasts and expert wordsmiths. The game serves three audiences of casual mobile game players, as players differ in their vocabulary. A "kids" mode has words for grades 2-8, and kid-themed topics; a "learners" mode is adaptive, with 10 tiers of language difficulty and it adjusts to the fluency of the player; an "energizing" mode is for native speakers and is filled with challenging vocabulary. 
Summary of innovations: 
CONTENT: We built a massive thesaurus and thousands of conceptual topic maps based on the Library of Congress catalog. Our computer algorithm selected non-overlapping topics, which our content editor then handcrafted. This multi-year undertaking is unparalleled in game production. 
CONTEXT & FEEDBACK: We devised a pool of excerpts from literature and periodicals. OtherWordly incorporates two timeless game elements – missing letters and trivia – into a puzzle framework. We created an interactive narrative with charming characters, a mystery for players to unravel, and in-game rewards. 
ANIMATION: OtherWordly’s technologically innovative mechanics and programming draw players in, delivering smooth animations, captivating designs, and physics-based motion that feels natural on mobile devices. 
EVALUATION: OtherWordly is a testbed for controlled data collection because the thousands of small in-game actions can be analyzed for statistically significant calculations. Players typically replay a level a few times to win. Imagine a player who was unable to match the word “facetious” twice could look it up and then correctly match it to “jocular” the third time. Since we know the probability of luck-based shots, we can calculate aggregate improvements as percentages, reported to players. And for youth players, this progress is optionally reported by email to parents. 
LEARNING OBJECTIVES
The learning objective is boost player vocabulary, over the scale of millions of players. 
SMALL IMPACTS ON A LARGE AUDIENCE: Even those who play briefly each day get exposure to thousands of words monthly and more than 10,000 words annually. OtherWordly requires players to combine the necessary skills used in crosswords (word meaning, synonym knowledge, and cultural application) together with word puzzle skills (spelling and letter usage), and leverage those skills simultaneously. 
FILLING A GAP: OtherWordly engages people who would not otherwise expand their vocabulary and improve their diction. Beyond a core audience of word enthusiasts, we capture the attention of players who wouldn’t pick up a crossword or consult a dictionary. 
ACCESSIBILITY: Our game features many accommodations, including variable difficulties and speeds, low-vision and colorblind settings, an alternate font option for dyslexic players, screen-reader and Braille display support, and accessibility for players with motor difficulties. 
HAIKU: OtherWordly exposes players to cool, space-themed Haiku during the game’s pause screens. 
MEANINGFUL: OtherWordly is intellectual without being pedantic. 
We seek to help solve the critical problem of low literacy and low vocabularies. In the U.S., and UK's poorest communities, one in three people have literacy problems. Low literacy is intergenerational, so boosts within any age group have spillover benefits. Mobile phones and gameplay are now common across generations and social classes. Research supports the potential for video games with strong narrative and vocabulary to boost literacy. 
A typical 15-year-old knows 19,000 unique words (counting inflections like “quick/quickly” as one). By age 25, that rises to 25,000, and increases another quarter over a person’s lifespan. But there’s a broad range that is strongly correlated to years of schooling, socioeconomic background, and how much someone reads. For 25-year-olds, the gap between the lowest 20% and highest 80% is over 12,000 words. That gap in vocabulary impacts peoples’ ability to obtain and retain employment, to critically consume media, and to have nuanced conversations in a world that has an increasing number of text-based conversations.
WHY IT WORKS
Each level involves matching words with a synonym or related word while avoiding orbiting obstacles and ever-shifting letters that appear and disappear. Can you match FRUIT to A★PLE? Or FINESSE to EL★GAN★E? Learning rote vocabulary can be boring, but OtherWordly solves this problem by gamifying it. 
OtherWordly offers the player an engaging way to add to their active vocabulary and gain a deeper understanding of their existing vocabulary. Many people love to play arcade games on mobile devices, but they aren’t necessarily word buffs. OtherWordly entices them into the world of words. 
Most English speakers know between 20,000 and 35,000 words. Shakespeare’s entire corpus encompasses about 25,000 words, including at least 1,700 – like alligator, gossip, and hurry – that he invented or introduced. OtherWordly exposes players to 30,000 unique words, passages from 1,000 published works. 
For every in-game word, there’s an example of usage from a literary source. Those sources include Pulitzer prize-winning fiction and nonfiction works. 
In the early 1940s, Edgar Dale used a cone metaphor to describe how different methods of learning impact knowledge retention. “Doing” was most impactful, delivering a 90% gain. Gaming is an act of “doing,” and thus ranks higher than other modes of learning. OtherWordly, a game that requires the analysis and comparison of words and phrases, is likely to have a positive impact on a player’s cognitive ability to more effectively master language. 
OtherWordly isn’t intended to replace teachers, classroom learning, vocabulary lessons and books, curricula, or any other formal language learning. Vocabulary acquisition has myriad pedagogical practices and theories, many of which rely on “drill and kill” rote learning. In contrast, OtherWordly’s design includes thousands of topics and includes most native English speakers’ vocabulary. 
OtherWordly improves on the status quo in that most word games are really spelling games. Despite superficial similarity, OtherWordly is unrelated to games like Scrabble, Boggle with Friends, Words with Friends, and word searches, as their exclusive focus is on word recognition rather than word meaning. In contrast, OtherWordly provides vocabulary enrichment for players, with a goal of improving players’ knowledge and confidence in word meaning over the course of 30+ hours of gameplay. 
OtherWordly is the only word game that takes modern elements of gaming, such as dynamic graphics, special effects, powerups, and levels, and combines them with the tradition of crosswords, namely deciphering words by their meaning with letter clues. For that reason, there is no relevant comparison. In addition, OtherWordly has no physical corollary. Although the game is designed to feel natural and tactile, it is physically impossible to play the game in real life.




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  • ST Math - MIND Research Institute

    ST Math is a PreK-8 visual instructional program that leverages the brain's innate spatial-temporal reasoning ability to solve mathematical problems. The programs unique, patented approach provides students with equitable access to learning through challenging puzzles, non-routine problem solving, and informative feedback. Whether distance learning, in the classroom, using a hybrid model, or at home, ST Math has been proven effective at keeping meaningful math learning happening for students. By design, its mastery-driven approach develops deep conceptual understanding at the students own pace, making ST Math just as powerful a learning tool outside the classroom as it is inside of it. The evidence-based impact of ST Math continues to be shown through independent, third-party validations as well as annual, transparent evaluations of results from ST Math school cohorts. These join more than 100 studies on the efficacy of ST Math. Independent research firm WestEd published a study on ST Math, the largest of its kind, to evaluate an edtech math program across state assessments. Grades that faithfully implemented ST Math improved significantly more than similar grades that did not use the program, outgrowing them in statewide rank by an average of 14 percentile points. ST Math currently reaches over 1.3 million students, 74,000 teachers, and 5,500 schools in all 50 states.
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  • MobyMax - Best Educational Game, MobyMax - MobyMax

    MobyMax offers the only complete and comprehensive K-8 curriculum for 27 subjects, including math, reading, phonics, language, vocabulary, spelling, writing, science, social studies, and state test prep. MobyMax‘s digital courseware solution can be used at any time, on any device with an internet connection, whether it’s a desktop at school or a tablet at home.

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    In 2019, MobyMax launched Fluency Team Games and Fluency Board Games, taking the Moby experience to a new level. Fluency Games allow students to practice and learn in a hyper competitive, fast-paced environment as they rack up coins, points, and bragging rights.

    In Fluency Team Games, Students practice critical math, language, and foundational reading skills by quickly answering questions. Teachers select the students, skills, and end time for the game. Moby then randomizes the selected students into teams. Students earn points for each question they answer correctly; the faster they answer, the more points they earn for their team! The final team scores are calculated after the game ends. In Fluency Board Games, teachers select the skills they want students to practice, and students select a board and game piece with which to play. As students answer skill questions, they'll move around the game board and compete against the computer.

    “This is a super fun way to follow up on a lesson and also works great as a quick assessment,” says Chris Godshall, a 4th & 5th Grade AGP Teacher at McKitrick Elementary. And students agree.

    “Is it fun. This is more of a challenge, and it’s super competitive and fast! I like that I earn coins and compete against my friends. It feels like a fun game,” confirms one of Mr. Godshall’s students.

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    MobyMax is used in more than 82% of all K-8 schools in the United States, with over 28.7 million students and 1.5 million teachers registered.

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