StoriumEdu: turning writing into a game

September 11, 2017
By Educator Innovator

StoriumEdu is a new game-based learning system that gets students motivated and excited about writing.

It seems like games are everywhere in the classroom these days. From science to math to engineering, game-based learning is enjoying a renaissance.

Perhaps this shouldn’t be surprising. After all, play comes naturally to us. As children it’s often our default mode of learning. A stunning 97% of kids play video games so it’s no surprise that teachers would seek to leverage something that their students so clearly love.

And there’s growing evidence that game-based learning works. Nearly half of all teachers in the U.S. now incorporate game-based learning (PDF) into their instruction, 70% of teachers observe increased student engagement from using educational games, and a recent study shows that games improve learning outcomes (PDF) by 33%.

But what about writing?

Despite all this there’s one area in which game-based learning has yet to make a significant impact: creative writing. The educational games available today overwhelming focus on STEM and other largely quantitative subject matter.

That feels like a lost opportunity because games are great at solving some of the very problems that make writing difficult to both teach and learn. Games put us in a playful mindset, one where we are more apt to take chances, withhold judgment, and take ourselves a little less seriously. They motivate us by rewarding progress and giving us a personal stake in the outcome. They provide opportunities for us to cooperate and collaborate. And most of all, they’re fun. Why not put these traits to work in the service of writing?

Why not, indeed.

StoriumEdu is a web-based online learning system that turns creative writing into a multiplayer game. Using mechanics inspired by card games, roleplaying games, video games, and interactive fiction, StoriumEdu helps students unlock their creativity, overcome the dreaded “writer’s block,” build stories with clear structure and compelling characters, and have fun along the way.

This past winter and spring StoriumEDU ran its first pilot which was a big success. With over two dozen schools involved (mostly in the U.S., with a few abroad), 100% of participating teachers reported noticeable improvement in student writing quality and motivation, and 78% of students said that they enjoyed StoriumEdu more than typical classroom writing exercises.

Earlier this summer StoriumEDU also ran a two-day professional development camp in collaboration with Katherine Suyeyasu of the Bay Area Writing Project, Tanya Baker of the National Writing Project, and Antero Garcia of Stanford’s Graduate School of Education. Facilitators witnessed first-hand both the power of games to unlock creativity and the excitement of participating teachers.

Based on this positive response, StoriumEDU is moving forward with an invitation-only beta test, starting shortly. The beta includes a number of improvements over the alpha, and StoriumEDU hopes to engage a larger group of teachers and students to test and improve the product.

StoriumEdu remains new and experimental and is looking for teachers who are both interested in and comfortable testing out new classroom technologies. If you’re an “early adopter” then this beta is for you. Best of all, it’s totally free.

Sound interesting?

If the beta sounds like something you’d like to try in your own classroom, click the orange button above to join the waiting list. When the beta starts you’ll receive invitations on a regular basis. And once you’re in you’ll be able to invite a limited number of your own colleagues or friends. The sooner you join the waiting list the sooner you’ll get into the beta. So sign-up today!

By Stephen Hood, co-founder and CEO of StoriumEdu