“Now the foundation is working with the Center for Game Science at the University of Washington on a free, online game called Refraction. As students play, their progress is visible to the teacher on his or her computer, allowing the educator to see instantly what concepts students understand.
“The idea is that in coming years, there could be a digital mall full of low-cost or free online games teachers could download to use with the entire class or individual students.
“‘Part of what we’re trying to do is make more robust the array of things teachers have access to at their fingertips that are aligned to standards, that are high quality, that engage kids though technology and let [teachers] be the orchestra leader,’ Phillips said.
“It’s early in the development phase, and the foundation is still trying to figure out how to do this game-based technology well, Gates said.
“The foundation will play a role in researching and developing this new technology, work that isn’t likely to be done at the federal or state level.
“‘It’s definitely going to make a contribution,’ Gates said. ‘Motivation is such a huge part in what ends up differentiating student outcomes. Everyone has the ability to do fantastic work at a high school level. It’s just without the right teacher and the right motivation you don’t always get there.’”