Tuesday, December 19, 2006

More great podcasts - this time interview-style found at http://www.thinkport.org/technology/gotgame/doandview/podcast.tp. You'll learn about MIT's Education arcade and also learn some insight from Henry Jenkins.

Friday, December 15, 2006

For those of you finding it hard to keep up with the pace of the research being published in journals on game-based learning, you might want to download a few podcasts on the topic from this game-based learning podcast archive: http://talkingfavourites.com. There is some great content here if you can get passed the computer-generated voice.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

playbe's playce

Over at Aaron Schmidt's walking paper blog, he links to this site. Aaron challenges librarians to use it in a Young Adult site, but I think there is use here for academic libraries as well. The games provide a fun way of selecting different content pieces and allow for a variety of learning/personality types. It seems like it could fit with subject specific webpages or departmental library pages. If we are creating resource pages, let's do it in a way that students would want to explore.

Here's my idea:
If the content items can be clicked on, why not populate that with subjects or resource links. The content item boxes in the Breakout like "Achiever" game could explode when hit to create additional subcategories. The same is true for the planes in the "Killer" game or the stars in the "Explorer" game. Why couldn't this be a visual way to navigate subject headings or LC classifications? Clicking/breaking/shooting one broader content item could open up more smaller, focused items. Couldn't this help students narrow their searches or topics in a creative manner?

The concept isn't any different than what many of us do now, it's just a more enjoyable way through the research process. As an information literacy librarian, the idea of game based navigation makes sense. To me, researching is a game and a quest and something like this takes advantage of that basic idea. Creating an easy and intuitive interface is not a new idea, so why not make it fun along the way.

What do you think? What other applications are there?

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Leveling Up for Educational Games
Educational Gaming Has to Engage the Students… but How? at EduTechie.com

Here is an interesting blog post that I was directed to from Educause. He brings up some good ideas about using games. His question about if using the game in an educational setting kills the fun of the game. There is that potential, but if done right, the game doesn't have to be boring. If a game isn't fun, or at least interesting why are we trying to integrate them? He doesn't really offer any help on this issue, but simply raises the question.

I am incredibly intrigued by his section of "Linking the Digital World..." The application and ability to link real life activities with skills and traits within a virtual/digital world would be amazing. No longer would a virtual world be your "Second Life" it would part of life. Learning communities could develop around this on campuses, study groups, and classes could be worked in. If a game gives increased experience points for studying in the real world, there is suddenly a lot more motivation for activities. Granted the logistics seem like a nightmare.

The idea of creating activities either real or virtual that add to a user's in-game power or prestige is not new for video games. This "leveling up" is a traditional feature of all role-playing games. But it's an interesting door to open from an educational standpoint. Thanks Jeff for providing a nice addition to the growing dialog that we are a part of.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

In her blog, Jenny Levine points to an excellent information literacy game built by Scott Rice and Amy Harris at the University of North Carolina Greensboro Libraries. The game is interactive, allowing 1-4 players. The game makes use of timed trivia-style questions, avatars and lots of colour. It looks fun and effective and I'll be interested in hearing about its impact.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

LearningTimes Network - "LearningTimes.org"

The TLT network is hosting a free Webinar intitled "A Game Based Approach to Website Evaluation."

I used gaming strategies this semester to teach website evaluation. I didn't use a game, but the strategies and apsects that games bring. So I'm looking forward to seeing what they do.

It's free so sign up and I hope to see you there on the 14th.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

MacArthur Foundation Series - "Open Forum"
There is an interesting discussion going on over at TLT through the MacArthur Foundation Series on Digital Media and Learning. It free to register, so join in and discuss.

Dialogue 2: Gaming Literacies (October 23-27)
“Learning to “read” a game system in order play with it points toward a specific kind of literacy connected, in part, to the ability of a player to understand how systems operate, and how they can, in turn, be transformed.” (from MacArthur forum description)

Ever see a student get frustrated with a database? I see it in every class. Learning to “read” and navigate an online database takes some of the same exploration, testing, and understanding that “reading” a game system does. The challenge is to make that connection in the students’ minds. This discussion is going on right now, so jump in and join James Paul Gee and others.

Dialogue 3: Pathways To Gaming This dialogue explores the different paths taken by young people, educators, and parents into (and out of) gaming, for there is certainly no single trajectory common to all players. Sometimes they operate as doorways into specific content, offer an introduction to a specific skillset.” (from MacArthur forum description)

This discussion starts next week, so join up now and let’s work together to get students down our path. Information Literacy (or whatever you what to call it), as a skillset, is not that different from gaming strategies. Both require the user to find information (game challenges and exploration), evaluate it (solving in-game puzzles), and know when and how to apply it (mastering a game, advancing a level).

If you are interested in more discussions like this check out my blog “Research Quest” on the links. I'm new here and looking forward to continuning this discussion in future posts.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

In his Silversprite blog, John Kirriemuir points to two new reports dealing with video games and teaching/learning.

Unlimited learning: Computer and video games in the learning landscape
Teaching with games

One might suspect bias with these reports, given the involvement of the commercial gaming companies, but I think it's great to see them forming research partnerships with the governmental & educational agencies.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Being an Economics Librarian, I suppose it's natural that I'm getting more and more interested in the economics of gaming. I'm reading a new book by economist, Edward Catronova who explores "massively multiplayer online role-playing games". Castronova explores the idea that "synthetic worlds" encourage/produce ordinary human affairs. The author states: "There is much more than gaming going on there: conflict, governance, trade, love." Although I'm only part way through, I'm looking forward to the chapter called "Economics of fun".

Castronova, E. (2005). Synthetic worlds: The business and culture of online games. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

Friday, September 15, 2006

As I work away at developing an IF game starring the library....

Here is a really great overview PowerPoint on video games and learning by John Kirriemuir :

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

I just downloaded a copy of an Interactive Fiction software program. I'm interested in the narrative function in games, and so this seems like an good way to get my feet wet using a text-based gaming approach. The program looks really user friendly. If you recall the text-based adventure games from the '80s, then this program will be very nostaligic for you.

The ADRIFT web site is located here. The download includes a very useful manual.

Friday, June 16, 2006

There are some really interesting developments going on within the 3D virtual reality world, "Second Life". A group of librarians, (Greg Schwartz, Lori Bell, Kelly Czarnecki, and Jami Lynn Schwarzwalder) have embarked on the virtual development of a library inside this world. The library is called the Second Life Library 2.0. It is free to create an avatar and download the Second Life software. The Librarians who volunteer their time inside this world offer virtual library instruction tutorials. It is well-worth taking a look at.

Listen to an mp3 explaining Second Life Library 2.0.

This mp3 is linked from another site that will be of interest to us - Online Programming for All Libraries (OPAL).

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

I recently listened to a great online seminar from the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. Richard Van Eck's talk was entitled "An Instructional Designer Looks at Digital Game-Based
Learning." If you have access to ELI, you can listen to the seminar in their archive:

Van Eck's 4 principles of learning in games: 1) Games employ play theory, cycles of learning,
and engagement 2) Games employ problem-based learning 3) Games embody situated cognition and learning 4) Games encourage question-asking through
cognitive disequilibrium and scaffolding

From the Chat, a free game development tool was mentioned that might be worth checking out:
Game Maker: http://www.gamemaker.nl/download.html

A commercial game engine (that does not require hard core programming skills) is Torque - $100 for a single user. http://www.garagegames.com/solutions/games/indie/

If you can recommend any other game development tools worth investigating (preferrably free) - please comment here.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

DIGRA (Digital Games Research Association) has a newly developed site, using the Plone Content Management System that allows members (it's free to register) to contribute and help organize the site. They explain: "this newly designed website / publishing environment / research archive is continuously under development, and the final form it will take depends on the direction you, as a member of the games research community want to take it into".

This should be an excellent place to get ideas and share ideas on gaming applications in education:


Wednesday, April 12, 2006

In this PowerPoint presentation, Dr. Atsusi “2c” Hirumi, Peterson Lorins, and James Hogg nicely identify some important considerations and procedures in educational game development.
There are a lot of Open Source game engines available, and this might be a good post for us to discuss and evaluate some of these. One good example of this is Blender. For a good overview of Blender - read up on it at Wikipedia

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

My interest in using games to teach extends beyond gaming in the video game context. Any tactic, tool or technique that motivates a person to master new content is an effective teaching tool. Using video games in particular might be an effective way to reach our learners remotely - in the online world. The potential for games or gaming to be an effective teaching tool comes down to the level of engagement that is ultimately achieved. As an overview for those who may not know much about computer/video games, I think the wikipedia article on video games might be a good place to start: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Computer_and_video_games

It's my hope that if there are any successful applications of using video games to teach information literacy skills, readers of this blog will post their comments/findings here.

Learning retention - particularly retention of information literacy skills is another interesting area to explore. Will video games be effective? Will the gains be worth the pay-outs? I think the verdict is still out on that, but feel free to use this blog as an outlet for discussion.

There are some learning objects, games and simulations available in places such as MERLOT and CLOE. I haven't done a review to see who has been evaluating the effectiveness of these games in other disciplines, but it is definitely something that needs further exploration and may prompt future posts by me here.

Monday, April 03, 2006

There is a really great overview article in the March/April issue of Educause. See Richard Van Eck's "Digital Game-Based Learning: It's Not Just the Digital Natives Who are Restless".

Other journals that you might want to monitor include:

Game Studies
Games & Culture

Monday, March 27, 2006

I'm trying to gather a community of librarians together who are interested in using games (digitial games, in particular) to teach information literacy skills. If you're interested in contributing ideas here, please let me know.