Eveyone always asks what is InterroBang?! – Well, the definition from Bing defines it as a punctuation mark in the form of a question mark over the top of an exclamation point. But it’s more than that, as  our guest blogger Allyson Knox from Microsoft’s US Partners in Learning shares with you today.

Teachers are beginning to adopt new and rare twists in gaming.  When tied to real-world service and learning - more teachers are ready to embrace and require online gaming in order to pass their classes.  I know this because I lead such a game at Microsoft called InterroBang (see www.playinterrobang.com).  Teachers tell me that they like InterroBang because it helps students see the intersection among real-world, classroom, and online learning and that students receive quality online feedback reinforcing what they say every day in the classroom: reread the directions; keep revising until you present your best work; respond to the question - what did you learn?; create or demonstrate or present evidence what you learned. Teachers also like InterroBang because it presents students with different kinds of missions as well as the opportunity to submit new missions.  They like its emphasis on creativity and problem-solving and they like that it's free.

The Virginia Secretary of Education is particularly proud of a group of VA high scoring students (see more in the press release below). 

What are students differently as a result of playing InterroBang? A Miami student makes "trash-free" lunches and convinced his sister to follow suit (for extra points); Using applied research methods - Maryland students defined what "community" means at their high school; North Carolina students are keeping a stream clean while their friends read to struggling young students; and a Georgia teacher lead a discussion about Martin Luther King's life with alternative education students, not the students she normally teaches each day.

This week, InterroBang features special Global Youth Service Day missions and our hope is to encourage more and more teachers and students to try out this new kind of gaming and learning ... and change the world. Global Youth Service Day is happening April 15-17, and you can learn more about it here: http://ysa.org.

Allyson Knox, U.S. Partners in Learning, Microsoft

Commonwealth of Virginia

Office of the Secretary of Education

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

March 16, 2011

Contact: Emily Webb

Phone: (804) 692-2549

E-mail: Emily.Webb@governor.virginia.gov

Loudoun County High School Teachers Bring Service-Learning Game Into Curriculum to Drive Student Success

Four students from Loudoun County High School won top honors in a nationally-recognized, socially-networked, problem solving game called InterroBang.  Microsoft recently recognized the students and teachers.  Students received a digital camera and InterroBang t-shirt.

“Virginia is proud of these students and teachers. InterroBang shows us all clear evidence of how these students achieved 21st century skills, which is what they need to compete in the global economy and, brings the world to their computer screen,” stated Virginia Secretary of Education Gerard Robinson. “These are goals supported by Governor Bob McDonnell’s Opportunity to Learn Agenda and Commission on Higher Education Reform, Innovation and Investment. We would like to commend Loudoun County Public Schools and Microsoft for their innovative public-private partnership.”

To play InterroBang, students select a mission online, complete it in the real world, and post evidence of their deeds online. Loudoun County AP English teachers required students to complete missions in order to pass their class.  They saw InterroBang as a way to keep their students engaged in learning and enjoy the process of critical thinking. One student explained the physics involved with his skateboarding. Yet another student painted a mural encompassing many students’ responses to Martin Luther King’s, “I Have A Dream” speech, capturing their dreams.  Using Bing Translator, another student communicated directly with a Chilean student and learned about cultural differences and similarities.  And another student won for creating a music video which comments on his schools need for continued financial support as well as his interests in playing the drums and competitive swimming.

InterroBang is a Microsoft U.S. Partners in Learning initiative in partnership with Nuvana, Learn and Serve America, and ePals.  Since November 2010, 8,000 students in more than 72 countries have submitted thousands of completed missions  (known as deeds) to InterroBang game moderators.  InterroBang moderators, who are paid educational professionals, provided players with feedback and often ask players to revise their work.  When moderators approve a deed the player receives points. Many teachers embrace InterroBang not only because the missions encourage learning by doing but because they feel like the game moderators are virtual teachers in their classroom. 

“We are excited to see InterroBang catch on in Virginia and across the country as students get excited about learning and take their skills from the classroom to the real world to make a difference,” said Andrew Ko, Senior Director of U.S. Partners in Learning, Microsoft Corp. “Not only does InterroBang allow students and teachers to engage with their communities, but it is a fun and effective way for students to gain 21st century skills.”

InterroBang is a socially –networked game for middle and secondary students that teachers the art of problem solving, creative thinking, collaboration, communications and more. .  It combines many other essential elements of powerful 21st century learning such as personalized learning, experiential education, online mentoring, peer to peer support, and formative assessment and wraps it up in something really fun – a game.  It also allows for players to have a voice the learning process because players can submit new missions for consideration.  Players’ voices are heard.  Their voices were also heard during the awards conference call with one student stating: “InterroBang is the best part of high school.” 

For more information on InterroBang, please visit: www.playinterrobang.com