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GameDesk, AT&T Join Forces to Create Living Learning Laboratory and Online Portal, Making Digital Learning Available to All

Will Take GameDesk's Classroom-Proven, Digital Gaming and Learning Technologies Nationwide. The program is Key Part of AT&T Aspire Initiative to Help Boost High School Graduation Rates

Dallas, Texas, May 17, 2012

It’s time for a revolutionary change in the way we engage kids in learning. We have the ability to ignite excitement and improve student outcomes by tapping into the power of technology.

Although some progress has been made, 1 in 4 of our high school students still aren’t graduating with their class, and of those that do, many are not fully prepared for college and career success. AT&T* and GameDesk are out to change that. By using the digital tools that are second nature to our kids today, educators and parents can engage and prepare students by conveying difficult concepts in a very familiar way. 

“Imagine teaching students aerodynamics – not through mathematical equations written on a chalkboard, but by allowing students to fly their own bird through a gaming simulation where aerodynamic forces are explained as they play,” said Bill Nye, “The Science Guy,” who is on the Board of Directors for GameDesk. “Through these types of interactive simulations, we can turn invisible concepts into visible, hands-on experiences.”

GameDesk, a Los-Angeles-based nonprofit out to revolutionize learning, will team up with AT&T to make its learning tools and technologies widely available to parents, students and educators. The institute reaches students in new and exciting ways, by embedding academic content and assessment into fun and interactive digital games and simulations, merging academics and entertainment. 

With AT&T’s support, GameDesk plans to take its model nationwide, helping to improve student outcomes across the country.  Recent studies have shown that the approach works, and does so with populations of students most at-risk for dropping out of high school.  According to a recent evaluation of the GameDesk learning game MathMaker, completed on a population of students from a school with less than a 62% graduation rate, math learning, engagement and interest all increased.  In fact, 80% of the students showed increases in math scores, and the scores increased an average of 22% from the start to the end of the program.

"Up until now we have only been able to support schools here in LA. With AT&T’s support, we’re going to be able to scale up and get these new learning tools out there for everyone,” explained Lucien Vattel, founder and executive director of GameDesk. “We hear from students that learning is ‘too hard, too boring,’ and there is a lack of meaning and relevance. As a result we are losing kids who have incredible potential, but have disengaged and fallen behind. Thanks to this new collaboration with AT&T, we’re able to work together towards changing that.”

Learning Lab and Nationwide Online Portal Set to Launch Next Year

AT&T is contributing $3.8 million, one of AT&T’s largest single contributions to date under AT&T Aspire, to vastly expand GameDesk’s reach to parents, students and educators nationwide through two new initiatives:

  • First, will be the creation of a living, learning laboratory designed to create a model for what the future of learning can be. The laboratory will include a "classroom of the future” learning environment to test and evaluate the products. New digital tools and technologies will be developed, and resources developed by others will be evaluated and aligned with academic standards.
  • The second major initiative will provide free access to an online portal featuring a large intuitive library of quality digital learning content, as well as content support for teaching and classroom integration. 

GameDesk founder Vattel describes the online portal: “Our work encompasses collaborative efforts from leaders in academia, education and the entertainment industry, and as a result we’re able to build and curate a compelling library of 21st century interactive content. We see this as being a clearing house for all the best work in this space and we want the entire education community to contribute content to the site, from the professional developer, to the educator in Kansas, to the creative and tenacious parents and kids at home.”

“This game-changing approach to teaching kids critical skills and concepts through high quality gaming and digital simulations is truly driving innovation in education,” said Beth Adcock Shiroishi, Vice President of Sustainability and Philanthropy, AT&T. “We need unique approaches to teaching and learning like GameDesk provides in order to bring about exponential change in U.S. graduation rates and make sure students graduate ready to hit the ground running.”

These new GameDesk initiatives are a part of the new AT&T Aspire, AT&T’s recently announced $250 million planned expansion to the first AT&T Aspire program, which was already among the most significant U.S. corporate educational initiatives with $100 million invested since 2008. The program, which has impacted over 1 million students in all 50 states to date, will expand its effort by using technology to connect with students in new and more effective ways, such as with interactive games, Web-based content and social media. The company will also tap the innovation engine of the AT&T Foundry to look for fresh or atypical approaches to educational obstacles. Finally, AT&T Aspire will capitalize on the power of personal connections in the form of mentoring, internships and other voluntary efforts that involve many of AT&T’s approximately 230,000 employees.

About Philanthropy at AT&T

AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T) is committed to advancing education, strengthening communities and improving lives. Through its philanthropic initiatives, AT&T has a long history of supporting projects that create learning opportunities; promote academic and economic achievement; and address community needs. In 2011, more than $115 million was contributed through corporate-, employee- and AT&T Foundation-giving programs.

About GameDesk

GameDesk is a 501(c) 3 Research and Technology Development Institute whose mission is to develop the next generation model of education, revolutionizing the tools we use and the way we teach. The Institute acts at the intersection of learning and digital content, effectively merging rigorous academic standards with quality entertainment design. The Institute is organized into 3 divisions: (1) educational game and technology development, (2) think-tank for new school models, and (3) school implementation, programs, and assessment.  Our unique vision and culture is the product of a group of visionaries, scholars, engineers, artists, educators, game-designers, and researchers who collaboratively develop and implement GameDesk content and programs. Since its inception, GameDesk’s historical mission has been to reengage at-risk students in their educations and futures by leveraging the appeal and real-world relevance of interactive technology and authorship.

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