Hello everyone, and welcome to show number 9 looking at educationarcade.org. This is our site of the month for January 2006 and focused on games based learning.

 

In show 8, we introduced the site and we said why we’ve chosen this site. In this show we’re going to start by looking at the video archives from the 2005 Education Arcade Games in Education Conference that was held in Los Angeles.

 

The first video I want to comment upon is the one called Students Making Games. This was the 10 a.m. session on the Tuesday of the conference. And the reason I wanted to talk about this was to take the chance to look at the historical continuity that this represents.

 

Students have after all, been delivering seminars as a course requirement for some considerable time. With that in mind you can begin to see the idea of students making games as the latest manifestation of this pedagogical approach.

 

In my own studies I can recall being asked to create a lesson for myself or others to use the email system. We had to create the lesson using HyperCard which is just like PowerPoint only that was for a macintosh machine. We had not used HyperCard before so it meant that there was a host of learning going on around both the topic area and the delivery mechanism. I still hold on to the effectiveness of that strategy for learning.

 

In the first example of student lead seminars this is a student learning about a topic in order to teach peers. In the example of me teaching myself using HyperCard I was using technology to learn about two technologies.

 

This fits nicely into Pasks ideas about teachback wherein the teaching of others causes the learner to learn a topic and to re-order and synthesise what is being learned in order to teach it back to someone else.

 

It would be quite easy to imagine sharing those hypercard stacks with other students and in any case it had that key ingredient of an audience in that it was shared for assessment with the tutor. This helped to enhance the authenticity of the learning.

Anyway, in the video from the conference, this topic of students making games was discussed from different perspectives. One presenter talked about the different possibilities and approaches that students took to the creation of games. These included things like requiring the user or player to answer a question before being allowed to proceed. That kind of thing. At that moment you started to realise that there was the whole issue of games literacy coming in to play here as an important enabler for students or others to be able to create games. Other design approaches were also mentioned such as whether to construct a drill and skill game that had very clear simple and straight forward strategies to be engaged with by the learner. Or, whether the real challenge was to get them to produce more ambiguous open ended scenarios where things were less clear.

 

The topic of games literacy as a new kind of information literacy for modern times was mentioned by several speakers in this video. And it seems clear from the above examples that if learners are to be invited to construct games then they’ll need to know the possible range of formats and structures and designs from which they can choose as part of that literacy. They’ll also need tools to be able to execute those ideas and that has further additional requirements for technical skills to be able to use those tools.

 

This is fine if you are a computer studies student but it may be more problematic or time consuming for arts students for example.

 

What struck me about this issue was the idea of groups of students being involved in playing and possibly producing games. If we think of contemporary skills and practices in a networked environment then we must start to recognise the connectedness of people within and beyond the class structures. Here may be the answer to the skills and games literacy development. The idea that as part of that literacy is the ability to cooperate with others.

 

In a not unrelated way, another presenter talked about the idea of student groups not only producing games as part of their learning but also taking things a stage futher. In this example, the group produced the game and then took the additional responsibility of creating online publicity and support for the game. The students took a view of the rest of the school or university as part of their community and produced web sites and word documents to send as email attachments to others in the institution. You can start to see the idea of classes as less insular can’t you?

 

So, just as the internet means that we can all call upon local, regional and international resources so the class is re-positioned within the institution and that institution becomes a wider audience for the work to be shared and evaluated.

 

In the same way that an individual teaches themselves something in hypercard and then sends it to a teacher. In the same that an individual gives a seminar on a topic to fellow classmates. The group produces a game and then presents it online to the rest of organisation. Each time there is an authentic task partly because there is an audience and in this way we start to see that the networked environment and the idea of learning within such environments needs to recognise that connectivity. It needs to be recognised both at the level of resource availability which it probably is at the moment. But it needs to think of that connectivity as implying an audience for learning activities.

 

If we go back to the games conference video then it may be that we can see games and networked learning literacy as inter-connected. I don’t think you could realistically doubt it. But in the design of the games it might be possible for an arts assignment to produce a game in the form of a design. It might be then possible for the computing studies student to produce the implementation of that design. This overcomes the obvious limitations of the desire of some students to be able to produce these games and most importantly it provides further recognition of the need to think beyond the confines of the classroom and to recognise the connectedness between classes in an institution and beyond.

 

I know Betty Collis at the University of Twente has done this kind of thing for some time. She requires her students to make their work visible online and accessible to anyone on the internet. This is another example of the recognition of that connectedness.

 

We’ll stop there for this show. Please send your feedback to front desk at talking favourites dot com. And in the next show we’ll try some of the other resources on this fantastically rich site which is educationarcade.org .

 

Thank you for listening.  

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