Monday, March 4, 2013

Got Game? Learning Through Play. Seriously! #SXSWedu

Notes from panel presentation at SXSWedu. - New project from Brainpop bringing together educational games for teachers and students. Started 2 years ago. All free content. No login necessary. About 57 games with content support. Working toward allowing teachers to gather data on student use and progress in the games.

Learning Games Network - nonprofit spinoff from university r&d groups. Central offering is Xenos. Play multiple games within a 2D environment and promotes second language learning. Also offers Game Design tool kit and another device to help students and teachers design learning games.

Filament Games - analyze commercial entertainment games to see what makes them engaging and then try to bring to learning games. Found people have fun in commercial games when they are learning. The learning in learning games doesn't need to be hidden. Use PBL and constructivist principles in their games.

E-Line Media - how to bring games for learning to scale but keep them affordable. Look for engagement points on on a 24/7 basis. Where do students have interest on their own? Scaling interest from early childhood to career.

Q: How do we make sure students are learning and not just playing passively?

A: Play is engaging and inherent to learning. As long as you aren't separating it out (learning then blasting asteroids a then going back to learning again). Without good scaffolding from the teacher and the game, students can get through a game without critically reflecting on what's going on. Teachers must be involved! Reward is often found in overcoming a challenge.

Q: How do we assess/test learning?

A: This is a place where game designers need to improve. Teachers need more access to formative assessment data. The best way to design a game that makes someone better at taking a test is to design a game that looks like a test (that's a pitfall to avoid by the way!).

Another challenge here is in many games students create their own story. How do we decide their story is right or wrong.

Games are about doing something. The best assessment might be taking a look at what the game player is able to accomplish. Ex: imagine a game for training surgeons.

Q: Do game design companies have instructional designers permanently on staff?

A: All designers at one company have instructional backgrounds to one extent or another. They also bring in educators and subject matter experts during the design progress.

Q: Is there a movement toward integrate games into LMS systems?

A: There isn't enough data output from either type of system to make this useful right now. Over time it will evolve.

Q: Can games be used to improve recall of knowledge, not just provide an experience?

A: Games can provide context or prepare for future learning. Can also help make learning difficult content easier than traditional means.

Q: What do educators actually want?

A: To find out, create the nucleus of a game and get it out to teachers to get their feedback. Avoid making too many assumptions about what will work.

Q: In traditional education, we discourage risk taking and failure. How can games work in this space?

A: Games allow failure and we learn from failure. Schools don't have innovation cycles - test approaches and reiterate. Games provide a place to teach students about innovation cycles.

Q: What percentage of traditional teacher led learning can be replaced by games?

A: Difficult to quantify. If students are learning from games, the teacher is often supporting instruction in other ways. Should/can games replace the classroom experience? Opinions differ.

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