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Evaluating Games for Learning--Education Week Live Chat

Just attended a great Education Week webinar featuring Richard Van Eck, an Associate Professor and the Graduate Director of the Instructional Design & Technology program at the University of North Dakota (UND), sharing his views on the topic of  Evaluating Games as Instructional Tools, and I have my homework cut out for me. I thought I'd share out the wealth of resources Van Eck tossed out for us right at the start of his talk. Later, as I assimilated all he had to say, as described below, I was particularly impressed by this piece of his advice:

We do have to be conscious of our audience. There is a big assumption made that all kids under 18 are a frequent game players. This is not true. Many kids do not play games, and even when they do, that does not mean they all like them equally, nor that they like the same kinds of games. Of course, the same is true of books and movies, and we don't worry about that when designing curriculum.

I'm not a huge fan of this text-only distance learning medium, since it doesn't lend itself to multi-tasking I generally need to be involved in in order to get anything done. Sitting and watching text plop into a CoverItLive screen is not my idea of a fun time. Don't get me wrong: I love the topic, really liked the presenter, and I'm a big fan of text archives. I lost--not interest--the ability to sustain my textual mode after only a few minutes, and I switched to another browser to get work done.

A cool thing happened though. When I'd finished my other online work, and in fact after a class of kids had come and gone, I went back to my EdWeek browser and the whole thing was there. I whipped out my Notepad, copied and pasted the text into a text file, then spent 90 seconds stripping the timestamps out manually. Then I opened my copy of ReadPlease Free and copy and pasted the spiffed up text into that. I'm now listening to a pretty nice podcast from the talk, all mine, all mine, mwahahahaaaaa. I'm not going to redistribute it, but here's a link to the event, with the transcript and embedded CoverItLive. What I do want to do is to give readers the links Van Eck shared out, which I hope will be useful in their own investigations into the dense topic of games and learning. What a fun mine-field of exploration!

Here's a snippet from the dialog:

Moderator: Katie Ash:  Great - let's start with a question that many of you are interested in - where to find resources for games

[Comment From Vera] 

What are some of the best resources available for games at all levels from elementary through 12th grade?

Richard Van Eck:  This is a big question, to which I can only give you a partial answer....

Richard Van Eck:  I have several sites that are a good place to start for K-12 and education in general:

K-12 Games Resources

Moderator: Katie Ash:  Excellent!

Richard Van Eck:  Here are also some organizations that can point you toward some good research and other resources:

Richard Van Eck:  And finally here are some of my favorite sites for games and related technology for educational purposes:

Games & Tools
(see Simbionic and Task Tutor Toolkit)

Moderator: Katie Ash:  

Wow - lots of resources.

Moderator: Katie Ash:  These links will be posted in our transcript after the chat, too, for anyone who would like to check them out afterwards.

Here's the "money-shot," the final series of sentences from Van Eck that I hope will drive you to investigate further:
One of the biggest mistakes we can make is to assume that "Playing games=learning"

While you will get many good skills by playing many games, the best use of games for learning will occur when we as educators take a careful look at different games and make our best efforts to develop meaningful lessons that employ games. That takes work and time, and in any case will only ever be a part of what we do in the classroom.


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