Monday, January 16th, 2017

Williamson Educator’s Idea wins National Award

When given a chance to voice their thoughts on how gaming can be used in student learning, educators have an unlimited number of ideas. The NEA Foundation, in partnership with Microsoft Partners in Learning and the U.S. Department of Education, is recognizing Brendan Noon, a science teacher at Williamson High School in Williamson, NY, who was selected by his peers and a panel of experts as one of the top 10 ideas posted to receive the NEA Foundation’s Challenge to Innovate (C2i) Gaming Award, and $1,000.

For a decade, Noon has been developing a website that would allow students from across the nation to compete in a weekly game show. The program would incorporate a variety of technologies, from classroom remote control “clickers,” to video quizzes and gaming platforms, similar to “Jeopardy” or “Family Feud.” A nation-wide database would aggregate students’ score and achievements, and prizes and awards could be distributed to highest-achieving.

“Game-based learning and interactive technology like this can help build technological and communication competencies valued in the workplace and the 21st century economy. So we asked educators to share, discuss, and evaluate ideas about how to use these tools to support classroom instruction,” said Harriet Sanford, President and CEO of the NEA Foundation. “We discovered educators who are using technology in fun, creative ways. By initiating this discussion and knowledge sharing, we hope to help educators better equip their students with the skills they’ll need to be successful in college, work, and life.”

The NEA Foundation uses crowd sourcing on the Department of Education’s innovation portal as a way to ensure that educators have a voice in determining new instructional strategies. Continuing a multi-year partnership, the Foundation partnered with Microsoft to solicit and share ideas on how gaming could be integrated into the curriculum to meet students where they are highly engaged while improving their learning.

Noon is also a member of the C2i community, over 1,000 educators and others, that is hosted on the Department of Education’s Open Innovation Portal, and who are helping the NEA Foundation and its partners identify and solve education’s most pressing classroom problems. His was selected from a pool of 157 ideas from 38 states and five countries by their peers and a panel of educational experts.

“What’s innovative about my idea is that students can take formal assessments in a game-based, interactive environment and have their scores placed in a database to measure growth and reward achievement,” Noon said. He added that the gaming environment would give students “tremendous motivation and enthusiasm to learn the material for those topic quizzes.”