Hi! and welcome to the Sleuth IT Blog. We’ve been asked to update schools on what we’re doing on numerous occasions and newsletters seem to be a thing of the past.. do people still them or just hit delete (after unsubscribing?!) A lot has gone on this year since BETT 2020 (our first BETT show!). A blog seems a good way forward to keep people up to date and shout about it in social media now and then.
Gamification - Fortnite, Myst and Sleuth IT
I first came across the term Gamification around 2005 for a number of reasons; the work of Tim Rylands to engage students in literacy work was particularly significant. With the term being used a lot in Education, I had always inferred Gamification was the merging of the terms, Gaming and Education, and was more deeply rooted in education than is actually the case. (although I think it should be!) Strictly speaking Gamification is defined as follows, ‘ … the application of game-design elements and game principles in non-game contexts.’
A recent conversation with Andrew Rhodes of ATEA Norway regarding the incredible increase in fluency with English, resulting from online gaming with Fortnite set the little grey cells whirring. The student’s increased capacity with spoken English was a result of the desire to communicate more fluently with other Fortnite players, who for the most part, were English as a second language speakers, from around Europe. The engagement factor was clearly what was spurring him on to progress and increase his vocabulary.
This conversation on engagement took me back to when I met Tim Rylands at BETT 2014 with Merlin John. Tim Ryland’s work with the Myst series of games attracted (and rightly so) a lot of attention in the education sector, and Tim won a highly deserved BECTA award for innovation in teaching. There were two elements to his use of the games that really impressed me:
1 Tim had access to a single computer and engaged a whole class with it.
2 The standard of work and the development of literacy skills reached by using games in this context on a regular basis, because the students were excited, inspired and highly motivated. They were literally ‘walking through the games’.
Tim, sadly, is no longer with us, but if you’d like a look into his classroom and a peak at the inspiring work he pioneered check out this clip on YouTube: https://youtu.be/X5xFMmK5Ujs
Tim constantly regaled us with anecdotes on the range and depth of language and vocabulary his students would embrace within this super-charged atmosphere inspired by the immersive landscapes of Cyan’s Myst games. Incidentally, Sarah Neild has passed on some left over copies of Myst IV (PC and Mac), if anyone is interested in a copy, it’ll cost you the P+P to procure one!My work in schools with the integration of ‘tech’ into the classroom brought me up constantly with the same challenge: engaging students with literacy work, particularly boys, and particularly with text - whether with English as a first or second language - and led directly to creating Sleuth IT games to bring together many of the above elements.
Tim’s work had shown how the environments inspired creative writing, the puzzle elements of Myst were a catalyst for discussion as the class worked together to solve these. With this in mind we wanted to bring all of this together in a resource specifically developed for the classroom, including:
1 Immersive and compelling environments with video and interactive 360 panoramic
2 Well developed and credible story lines / plots. We all love a good story
3 The integration of puzzle / game elements into the plot that are challenging and fun, but most importantly bring in the literacy elements desirable for learning.
Sleuth IT is now working with schools all over the world, with cases starting to appear on our website if you would like to check them out. If you are interested in taking a closer at how Sleuth IT can work with your school contact me here! sleuthit.com
Joe Moretti March 2021
The big Sleuth IT update was launched January 2021:
1 Sleuth IT is now 100% cross platform. iPad, Android, Surface, Chrome book, Apple and Microsoft computers. Games run in a PWA.. progressive web app.
2 Our purchase and pricing models have been restructured. Schools can now access games on a very affordable per student per game per year (or more) basis. The new pricing models can be viewed here.
3 Literacy resources have been expanded for all games. The detective journal now offers 100 pages+ of scaffolded activity in Book Creator, Keynote, Powerpoint, Google Slides and PDF formats.
4 We were very excited toward the end of 2020 to work more closely with Book Creator and Book Widgets, which has led to an increased and tighter integration with their excellent products, Book Creator versions are available of ALL in game journals, newspapers and magazines now provide ‘read to me’ access for students requiring support with reading. Book Widgets are integrated throughout all games providing episode by episode reviews and quizes as well integrating many of their other excellent widgets into the journal. No purchase of Book Creator or Book Widget licenses are need for these but we do advocate checking these out for creating your own resources!
5 iBeacons were a casualty of this upgrade and we no longer offer this facility. Strangely enough this has some very positive feedback! The games are now structured in an episodic / series format (think Netflix!) and we’ve had a great response to this.
6 Our new web app allows for episode by episode access with a simple URL link to each episode, or a single link to the whole game. This and the extended resources have proved really useful to school delivering literacy work remotely.
7 All resources are now accessed via download and we’ve been working with many schools on successful integration into the school PMS… (paperless management systems).
8 Training is available via Zoom as and when a school needs the support… many schools are taking advantage of this and we’re pleased to be developing a closer relationship with them. Some of these schools are preparing case studies of how they are using Sleuth IT.. check back on the case studies page to see how these progress.
9 The Sleuth IT range of titles has been extended and we have some exciting developments which we’ll save for the next Blog piece… however, we can say at this time we wil have expanded to 16 titles ready for the new academic year.
10 We’ve decided to make the projects section of our games ‘open source’, you can check this out here on the website under Classroom projects, This includes the resources which are free.
Lastly, our new 60 second showreel has had some great feedback. Titled strangely enough, ‘Have you got 60 seconds?’ you can check it out below!
Do check back for updates to the Blog - our next piece has a special Summer Term introductory offer to all schools looking for a fun pedagogically sound literacy based activity for the summer term!