I spent number of days at this year’s VITTA conference. The theme was “Shift Happens – Technology alone will not save us!” For those unaware of the Shift Happens viral video, you should look here. There are also lots of supporting materials on the shift happens wiki.
Two of the opening keynotes presentations were focused on the role and impact games can have on education. Derek Robertson from Scotland gave a excellent keynote on day two titled ‘The Future of Gaming’. He discussed the ways in which he is investigating and researching the use of COTS or ‘commercial off the shelf games’ in education. In Scotland, they believe this area to be so important they actually have what they call a ‘consolarium’ to investigate game use in education. Derek’s blog is one I’ll be following in the future. Some of the work and a 48 page research paper can be found here.
Some the games Derek used were:
- Endless Oceans
- Dr Kawashima’s Brain Training
- Moshi monsters
- Guitar Hero
- And another one suggested by the attendees Quest Atlantis
What was most interesting about his work, was the way the teachers he worked with used ‘games as a contextual hub’ for the learning. So the games were not an ‘add on’, or a reward, but were integral to the learning. More on this later, when we hope to get Derek to discuss this on the Ed Tech Crew.
Andrew Owen did the keynote on the third day and continued the theme of using games in the classroom. His keynote was titled ‘Games: Not the Educational Tool of Tomorrow, the Educational Tool of Today‘. He did an excellent job explaining how he used games to engage students in their learning. Many of the games he used were new to me. They included:
He also discussed the ‘Step It Up‘ program that he runs for work experience students. This is where students come into the workplace and work in teams all week to produce a game. The focus is on learning new skills, teamwork and producing something of value (not your usual making the coffee and getting the smoko type of work experience!)
Now all I need to do is to find some time to play some of these games – for research purposes of course!