In the context of a doomed planet’s imminent destruction by an approaching asteroid, the game Astria: Countdown to Impact offers students the opportunity to work with a team of scientists and world leaders to find a scientific solution to the threat. As the Alpha Leader, the player must read a series of documents from both reliable and unreliable sources, and fully investigate all possible solutions to the asteroid crisis.
The Developing in Digital Worlds team designed the educational game Astria: Countdown to Impact in response to limited classroom opportunities to develop critical literacy. While the New Zealand Curriculum Te Marautanga o Aotearoa promotes awareness of how texts include, exclude and represent readers, and how text producers choose language, layout, words or images to reflect a particular point of view, students still need opportunities to practice these skills.
A digital tool like Astria provides students with a collaborative game experience, while asking them to identify bias, credibility of source, and whether particular statements can be classed as “facts” or not. In this way, the Astria educational game develops critical thinking, critical literacy, and vocabulary skills for both upper primary and lower secondary students (years 7-10).
The game format also provides a unique environment in which students are given freedom to make mistakes in a low risk and highly engaging context. With the pretence of a planet under attack, students’ cognitive and social skills are tested and extended by problem solving, goal seeking, planning, decision making, and path taking. To the extent that game provides a structure for joint activity, then further feedback loops and communities of learning involving cooperation and collaboration with peers may be possible. The most recent version of the game also gives greater opportunities for teachers to consult analytics and augment their capacity to guide students.
Astria has been designed for play in pairs, 2 x 2 x 2 reasoning challenges, and teacher re-engineering to build learning sequences with other tools. For example:
- reflective blog posting; ‘reusable’ slide templates; evidence sheets
- pause points for guided instruction (e.g. game ‘Continue’ function) and supported by Dashboard diagnostics
- Rewind and review opportunities for online, and offline interactions (e.g. ‘Compare your ratings of pair x, critically reason and make necessary revisions’)
What Astria aims to promote for students:
- A ‘source, fact, bias’ framing
- Simulated practice
- Agency (path taking) – narrative and critical decision making
- Situated learning and practicing of critical literacy discourse features
- Opportunities to resolve competing viewpoints and to engage in metacognitive review
Features for teachers:
- In-built, automated assessment and feedback (teacher and student)
- A dashboard for real-time reporting
As a curriculum resource
Astria: Countdown to Impact is a cloud-based game which can be accessed via multiple device platforms including tablets, Chrome books (or Netbooks) and laptops or desktops. Packaged as a curriculum resource, the game tool will include:
- A design interface that offers both a comprehensive introduction to the features of critical literacy and incorporates virtual decision making by simulating critical thinking in online and offline contexts
- Guidelines for teacher-augmented approaches to effective skill enhancement
- In-game analytics and pre/post assessment for tracking skill development
If you would like to play Astria: Countdown to Impact, please fill out the below form and we will send you the link and a code to enter: