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Schooly Games

I’m here, at NECC, for only two and-a-half more hours, so I need to squeeze in as much as I can.  So what am I doing?  I’m at the blogger’s cafe.  The interesting thing about such a big conference that is so multidimensional, is that you can hardly turn around without learning something.  I step in the Second Life Lounge, and not only am I re-introduced to some of my best virtual friends (without the purple hair), but I turn around and there’s Steve Dembo, presenting somewhere in this complex, but displayed on a large LCD.

Walking throught one of the large open halls, I run across the Games & Simulations Lounge where I talk for a minute with Jeremy Koester and then get the five minute pitch on a couple of the games featured there. 

As context to my reaction, I go back to the Leadership Symposium yesterday, and some of the general theme of conversations here at NECC — that it is a time to blur the walls of schooling, to recognize and respect the opportunities that we and our students have to learn outside of our classroom walls.  The Internet and the new flow of information that has resulted from Web 2.0 applications offers an anytime/anywhere learning environment — where learn becomes a lifestyle, not just something you do in school.

Yet, both of the games I learned about were constrained by the rules of the grant providing organizations, a desire to produce a game experience that could be safely administered in traditional classrooms.  Both of the representatives I talked with admitted that the games would have been something different, and probably better, had it not been for the insistence for  classroom-ready products.  They wanted the games to be schooly – and in my opinion, they stopped being games, at least from the perspective of the gamers that many of our children are.

We need to object to this and to be more vocal in our proclamations for learning lifestyles that are independent of time and space.

I’m finishing this up at the San Francisco Airport, one more leg to New Zealand.  It’s currently 8:20 PM on Monday, and I’ll land around 5:00 AM on Wednesday — somewhat west of the DateLine.  Blows my mind.

Comments

  • ranolan

    The constraints on the games are understandable, but wouldn’t it be nice to ignore the rules for once?

    I believe that educational games will have to be social in nature, whether similar to facebook, myspace, or even Twitter. With that in mind, a person with the capability could create any type of educational game based around a variety of topics where the participants could work as a team, in groups, or individually.

    I’m curious to see where “educational ready” games will be in a few more years.

  • Corinne

    I am very new to blogging and educational technology. I found this blog as I was completing an assignment for a class that I am taking and I’m very excited to read about your experiences. I have also never heard of NECC (something I will be looking into!), but you are in my neck of the woods for this conference.
    From the standpoint of someone who uses only “web 1.0″ technology in the classroom (so far!) I can say that “classroom-ready” games are necessary if educational games are really going to catch on. Although I am trying to learn about new technologies to use in the classroom, many teachers are not and most schools are not putting much emphasis on it at this time. Perhaps these “classroom-ready” games will be a small step in the right direction.

  • Melissa

    Although I can understand the safety issue involved with the creation of these educational games, there comes a point when we as teachers and administrators need to stop and reflect on the technological changes that have been made within our society. After observing these societal changes, we need to determine if the educational atmosphere is up to speed with our society. Currently we can determine that the educational setting lacks in the area of technological advancement of educational games and activities. However, often times the reduction in technology is a result of the lack of funds to purchase technology equipment to support technology advanced games and activities. If our school and communities are educated on the importance and reason for the need of technology advancements within the classroom, it may result in teachers being able to do different things in the classroom rather than doing things differently. As a result, the way students learn is changing drastically, therefore, we need to keep up to speed with the constant changes in technology as well as in the classroom setting.

  • http://www.quisitivity.org Gerald

    The best “educational” games are probably not those designed specifically for educational institutions. Most of the games–or any kind of software for that matter–that I’ve seen aimed at the educational market is already technologically obsolete and has content bland enough to eradicate the ulcer epidemic in the world.

    What would happen if a game that was full of rich and meaningful learning experiences were so well designed and so engaging that it became a best-seller on its own? Well, it has probably already happened more than once. I wonder if we’re afraid to make educational software interesting because we don’t want to give the appearance that all we do in school all day is “play”.

    • Melissa

      Hi Gerald,
      Providing games that are full of rich and meaningful learning experiences would be a wonderful resource in the classroom. I can see how people might get the impression that the students are constantly playing games rather than learning. However, I also view these rich and meaningful learning games as a new way to teach and reinforce new concepts. Students are learning in new ways compared to the past. Our would is full of technology and our students constantly use it everyday. If the students play these rich and meaningful games often it may appear that they are just playing all the time to an outsider. However, to educating professionals, we know these are tools to provide reinforcement or further reiterate the concept that is taught in the classroom. As we move further into a technology based world, we need to adjust our learning environment to keep the students motivation, enthusiasm, and understanding of all subject areas consistent.

  • Laelia Laval

    And WHAT may I ask is wrong with purple hair??? LOL Sorry you weren’t there on Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. as we presented ‘Personal Learning Networks in Second Life Networks’. You’d have glimpsed the ‘purple wig’ in action!


Photo taken by Ewan McIntosh in a Taxi in Shanghai

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Cultivating Your Personal Learning Network
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