To many educators games and the classroom go together like oil and water, however with the Education in Games Summit a core part of Melbourne International Games Week, it seems it might be time to challenge the oxymoron.
Education in Games Summit
To open the summit, educators heard from game industry experts to learn more about the opportunities and possible career paths for their students. Life experiences were relayed and the Game Developers Association of Australia (Games Industry Body), provided a window and inspiration for both teachers and their students.
Next to come were the crew from the STEM Video Game Challenge, who reinforced the value of game creation in driving student curiosity and fostering a project based approach to learning. Playing some of these student developed games I was as inspired by the narrative and knowledge focus as well as the technical skills and expertise, this is one to convert those who have yet to see the value of games and game development.
There was also a focus on the curriculum and the exciting opportunities the new Digital Technologies Curriculum provides to incorporate technology, gaming and computational thinking as a way to develop digital solutions and digital skills. There is not only an engagement reason to explore games, but a mandate for implementation.
To help the participants develop key industry relevant skills the remaining sessions delved deeper in to technologies, pedagogies and experiences. The conference demonstrated that both the technical and teaching skills need to be thought of and developed in tandem as it is not just about the technology.
Sessions from seasoned educators as well as industry groups including Intel, Unity and Microsoft demonstrated the importance of partnerships in building the skills, capabilities and experiences of our students. The Intel team delved in to the world of Arduino and focused on how problems, scenarios and challenges too are a form of gaming and how we can use technology to develop digital solutions.
Walking away from this summit I was inspired by the game infusion already existing in many Australian classrooms and excited by the optimism and openness to redefining the way learning can occur.
The day following the Summit educators were invited to also attend the Penny Arcade Expo or PAX Australia. This mega event brings together game enthusiasts from across the globe to celebrate gaming culture. Whilst not considering myself a true gamer, I was inspired as an educator as to the possibilities games present. Communication, collaboration, immersion, challenge, learning, strategy, so many of the key skills we desire to develop in our students, and that is forgetting the biggest key engagement.
You might be reading this rather cynically as a ‘non-gamer’ but reflect on those retro challenges at the Pizza Shop or the Donkey Kong battles on the bus, it was fun, it was challenging ,it was engaging, it was learning. From a stalwart non gamer myself…I think I might almost be converted. And yes board games, strategy games, card games too are all part of the mix, gaming is not just about the screen.
Apart from having a great time, it was also a phenomena in itself, hundreds of computers, screens, board games, people, characters and so much more. As the saying goes pictures speak 1000 words, I will let them tell the rest of the story.
Links and Resources
STEM Video Game Challenge: https://www.stemgames.org.au/
Conference Website: http://diglearning.global2.vic.edu.au/2015/08/30/education-in-games-summit-2015-a-gameful-world/