Games + Learning + Society 6.0 . . . Video Games and Education


Kurt Squires opened the GLS 6.0 with a presentation based upon the premise games are good and games can support student learning. He believes there has been enough research to prove games are good and do make a difference to student learning.

He proposed good games and learning are equal possibility spaces. Games can be fun. Not every game is great or even fun.

What makes a good game?

  • sense of orchestration of time
  • choice of character
  • geography is important
  • game consists of sets of choices and consequences
  • given goals: short, medium, long term (that you really want to do)
  • and incidental goals occurring along the way.
  • Making own story / own game.
  • Game is a balanced progression – map mastery of learning and the development of novel strategies.

Games provide what is missing from real world

  • social possibilities
  • be something you’re not
  • learning is social
  • productive possibilities

Hierarchy of Gamers

  • Newbie – curious
  • Competent – mastery – involvement
  • Master player – systems level – community leader and  – call to leadership
  • Tinker – modding & changing games – addictive
  • Designing own games (red = Social Context – involvement in a deeper way)

Games Rubric

  • good choices / consequences
  • designed for systemic understanding
  • transgression / can’t do in real life –
  • immersion strategy
  • socialable
  • inspire creativity
  • ramp from consumer to producer smooth
  • are the biases interesting one

How do we make GOOD learning games? Need to understand

  • What do we mean by games?
  • What do we mean by learning?
  • How do we learn through games?

Observe – action – reaction- practice – evaluate- re apply understanding-

Kids become interested in information gathering and developing personal expertise.

Games need to be matched to the curriculum. They need to be

  • Purposeful and carefully designed
  • Interest driven – concentrated work – satisfaction
  • Tasks have to be freely chosen – Montessori

Signs of normalisation in a classroom are a love of:

  • order
  • work
  • concentration
  • self discpline
  • independence
  • generosity

For students to be game designers the tasks they are undertaking need to be authentic. It is the authenticity that makes the difference.  The game that is an add on to the curriculum and does not grow out of quality teaching practices and the curriculum has little validity.

The Making and Playing of the Game . . . research


Engaging students in Game Design

1. Promoting Technological Literacy with Gamestar Mechanic – Alex Games

As a result of ICT Alex Games believes our world has changed forever. He notes the major impacts of ICT have been:

• Automation
• Knowledge and information
• Impact of globalisation

Expert thinking and communication are highly valued and have been least affected by the GFC.

Science Technology Engineering & Mathematics (STEM) are areas where education and classroom practices are failing to engage students. To bring these subject areas into the classroom Alex Games has been working on a project based upon . . .

Gamestar Mechanic is a game about game design. Games has been working with Eric Zimmerman, Katie Salen, the Institute of Play and James Gee to fine tune this game design program which teaches about attributes of good game and then supports the student to design games. It is very like Game Maker which is a game making program out of Uk which was developed for a similar purpose by Jake Habgood and assoc.

Alex Games proposes the Theory of Game Design Thinking has 3 levels:
1. Material learning to use – chips, tools etc
2. Ideal player dialog – in designer’s head
3. Social level – how do they play it

Findings over 6 months of a research project are as follows;
• Students learning developed the realisation that games are systems.
• Descriptive Language developed from simplistic and over time becoming more complex.
• Concepts developed to higher levels
• Cyclical refinement and troubleshooting / more and more elegant solutions

2. Kyle Li researching Augmented learning for Middle School Kids investigated What is good game learning?

• Students read games medium in a totally different ways to reading a book
• Get students to question games and develop an understanding of the complexities that go into designing and developing games.
• Games aren’t necessarily positive without guidance / scaffolding by teachers or in some other way

Questions arising:
• How do we organise communities and activities that encourage or maximise impact of games on learning environment?
• How do we give opportunities outside classroom to engage with medium of games?

Mobile Learning Workshop @ gls conference 6.0



As a precursor to the gls conference 2010 there was a half day workshop on developing games and especially mobile games.

The workshop was opened by Kurt Squires who spoke on the Mobile Learning Device Project which used following format:

1. Explore area of interest, collect data using sound + images

2. Design a game based on area of interest

3. Actually make the game

Squires recommended using Game Designing programs: MITAR, ARIS, 7scenes use web editor so there is little need for programming language skills.

Then we went through the process of developing our own mobile games in teams. The important things we had to remember:

  • Framing Questions help with setting goals
  • Creativity flourishes under constraints
  • How might we, How do we do  . . .
  • Quantity is valued over quality

We worked in teams. The process we went through follows:

All group members were given index cards to write on. Each person in the group had to:

1. Determine an age group to work with
2. Choose a quality teaching strategy
3. Suggest a concept.

Once this was completed the cards were put in 3 piles, a card was blindly chosen from each card group. This was contextualised in a sentence.

Each individual in the group had to silently brainstorm and write as many ideas as possible in 15 mins. I thought this would be difficult . . . my post-it pad was nearly empty by the time was up.

We had to abide by the following Brainstorming rules:

  1. quantity over quality … authenticity, purpose and mastery
  2. no judging
  3. go wild
  4. no buts (just ands)
  5. combine ideas
  6. get visual

Talking out ideas and using group consensus building followed and our group very quickly developed a concept and began working on and storyboarding our ideas.

This was a truly exciting session in which to participate. We worked our tails off and I feel the ideas our group of 5 produced could be translated very readily into a mobile learning experience for students.

Our target group was teens; however, the ideas developed could be adapted/negotiated from K to 12

See the following pictures which for our results.

ARIS . . . Mobile Learning Programming

What does the acronym ARIS mean? It stands for Augmented Reality & Interactive Storytelling. It is being trialled and developed at U.Wisconsin Madison.

How do we access and manage ARIS?

  • downloadable to the iphone.
  • over time more features will keep coming through Apps Store.

ARIS Program allows non-programmers to make mobile games this includes using QR codes
ARIS Alpha Editor is open source under MIT licence. It has two components:

  1. Switch iphone settings –
  2. Laptop programmer-

It is best to test directly on the device.

This workshop was great and even a technomoron like me had developed a small game and trialled it in the 2 hour workshop. It is a program that can be used by students and teachers to share learning and understandings across all KLA’s.

The challenge for our school is to make sustainable improvement in student learning


The Education Revolution has changed the fundamental nature of schooling in Australia. It has embraced standards-based reform representing “a fundamental shift in the relationship between policy and institutional practice” (Elmore, 2000 p.4). The logic behind this reform is to hold schools accountable for their contribution to student learning as they are the deliverers of teaching and learning.

Rudd (2008) at a National Press Club luncheon speaking on The Education Revolution emphasised the need for teachers to be focussing on realising the potential of each child. He concluded ” research shows that nothing at school influences student outcomes more than excellent teaching.”

Gillard (2008) when speaking on the development of the National Curriculum, as a component of The Education Revolution stated “We have a rare opportunity here to create a curriculum which helps achieve educational excellence across the whole community”. National Testing and the MySchool website, according to Gillard (2010), ensure “transparency” and “accountability”. She argues parents have the right to know how their child’s school is performing according to National Standards.

As an Educational Leader the requirement is to improve student learning. Our school community is in a low socio economic area. It has a population where 90% are from a language background other than English. The NAPLAN / BST results while consistent over time have, since the introduction of NAPLAN Testing, barely reached NSW State means. The teachers on the staff of the school are predominantly within their first five years of teaching. The positive is the school has a culture that is based on distributed leadership and supportive collegiality.

The challenge for our school is to make sustainable improvement in student learning by investing thoughtfully and coherently in the knowledge and skills of the teachers and support staff, personalising the curriculum and engaging the community.

Improving student learning by quality teaching practice . . . a model

To develop a model of teacher professional learning that provides for

  • school and system priorities,
  • negotiated personal professional learning goals,
  • clearly focussed classroom observation,
  • protocol driven observation,
  • reflection, and
  • feedback on instructional practices.

The model will provide for the inclusion of mentoring and modelling by expert colleagues.  Cloud and web based technologies, video, photo and podcasts will be used to record evidence and analysis of practice.

The work of Elmore 1996 to 2010 will be a major influence in the construction of this model and influenced by Hattie’s (2003) research which indicated the teacher has an impact of 30% on student achievement. An impact of 30% will make a significant difference to student achievement and it is an area on which schools can focus. He argued teachers can and usually do have positive effects on student achievement, but he believes they must have exceptional effects. To achieve these he proposed teachers attention be directed towards “higher quality teaching, and higher expectations that students can meet appropriate challenges”

Hattie’s (2003) findings are supported by Rowe (2003) and Fullan et al (2006) proposed “all teachers can teach to high standards, given the right conditions and assistance . . . teachers need to learn all the time and they need to be able to articulate both what they do and why they do it”. They suggested a model consisting of the following core components personalisation, precision and professional learning to improve teacher quality.

There is an opportunity in the context of our workplace to develop in all our teachers an innovative, lifelong learning culture. They are a generation of educators who will have only known a culture of high expectations, personal responsibility for professional learning and the experience of continuous growth and improvement in both their own and their students’ learning. Accountability and transparency will be implicit in their practice.

We are still creating a path to the future . . . the bricks in it are becoming clearer

The year to date has been a hectic one with our focus on reading and writing improvement for all students across all stages with Best Start and L3 happening in the K to 2 sphere and the Middle years project for Stage 3.

Stage collaborative planning, working in teams to discuss and implement literacy programs, analysing writing samples attempting to develop a consistency of judgement, developing evidence based reports in the form of annotated portfolios. Staggering report and Parent Interview times:

  • Stage 2 & 3 to coincide with NAPLAN Tests and results.
  • Kindergarten working on the Week 7 cycle for Best Start.
  • Stage 1 on the mid year and end of year cycle.

The vision continues the same Creating a path to the future.

The Leadership is distributed. It is time to clean the aggregated mess off the whiteboard and for the Executive and staff to get down to the guts of what we do, review it and work out whereto from here.

The Whiteboard of our lives at work

The path is winding out  ahead disappearing into mists, reappearing in a slightly different place, going through danger zones always presenting a challenge rarely does it provide a smooth or easy journey. It does stretch out ahead and despite its convolutions does help us take a direction.

Our school has a wonderful opportunity to develop a sustainable culture of innovative practice. This will require drawing upon our school plan priorities, personal professional plans and doing a great deal of research, exploring and having substantive collegial discussion.

Brick by brick the path will grow . .  . students will be inspired as teachers model lifelong learning.

An exploration: managing the National Curriculum without losing our individuality

Is the National Curriculum going to be a positive or a negative? How is it going to impact on teaching / learning programs? We have NAPLAN as a National snapshot of what our students can do on one day in a year. We have introduced A to E reporting as a National requirement. How do we continue to manage our individuality and show what our students can really do? How do we avoid a total focus on the dumbing down of their achievements to a simplistic A to E or to a NAPLAN Band?

Schools are learning environments that are way more complex than the National Government seems to understand.

The first phase of the National Curriculum has been published. We have draft English, Mathematics, History and Science Curriculums. They are available now for interested parties to comment upon.

Is it a retrograde step to be focussing on History rather than Human Society and It’s Environment? Maybe we will, as a nation into the future, have a better sense of where we come from and what it means to be Australian. We might even fly a new flag proudly, as the Americans do on auspicious national days! A new Nationalism, an inclusive Nationalism! Is this what this curriculum is designed to do?

In NSW there hasn’t been a satisfactory Science Curriculum for years so how can we be worse off?From what I’ve seen it is practical, engaging, relevant and can be integrated into other areas of the curriculum.

So much that is good and positive in the areas of literacy and numeracy is happening in NSW. Close scrutiny of the National Curriculum and clever programming should see the development of teaching/ learning, assessment and reporting that allows personalisation of the curriculum according to our students’ needs.

What part will technology play?

Where to next?

As we are all aware. The pace of change is so rapid that as soon as you purchase an item be it IT based or for the kitchen the car etc it is has been superceded.
We will be trialling and action researching the following in the next little while:
  • Ipads will be released in the 3rd week of April cost approx $599 with same apps available to it as to iphone
  • 3D media viewing
  • Virtual learning Environments

There is a world of wonder for our students out there. We have to teach them how to be critial discerning lifelong learners.

The future is what we make of it so please don’t teach for the tests.

A box by any other name . . . 10 tips for motivating teachers to use ICT.

Click here to access video showcase

1.    Blogs: model, mentor, support with scaffolding and training offer the Challenge
2.    Wikis for TPL
3.    Podcasts Radio Station BSPS 1186 in the planning stages for Term 2
4.    Online Games

5.    Console Games

  • Ds Lites
  • Wii’s
  • Playstation 3

6.     Interactive Whiteboards

  • Engagement, talking, cooperation, collaboration, display for whole class or groupwork
  • Storyonline
  • Tumblebooks

7.   Ipod Touch – listening post
8.   Robotics

9.     Animation
10.   Photostories
11. Web 2.0 tools

  • Voki
  • Voicethread
  • Animoto
  • vimeo
  • flikr
  • photobucket