Apr 03 2011

The Education Arcade

This extract is from an article published on the Education Arcade website. I would encourage anyone who is interested in gaming for learning to take a look at the site. The extract refers to an article which was published in the New York Times.

For me the key is, as the extract points out, that gaming can serve the needs of education and learning in general.

If the article has a shortcoming, it is that it undersells the long history of education reform efforts that brought us to this moment. If one doesn’t read it carefully, one might assume that the purpose of games in education is to keep kids engaged (i.e. to bribe them to learn), or at best, to teach them wholly new 21st century skills. What is missing is the insight that play and exploration have always been the way we construct new ideas and concepts, and that building such a scaffold of interconnected ideas has always been the source of our deepest knowledge and wisdom. This approach to learning does not just apply to generic cognitive skills such as problem solving, but also applies to traditional academic disciplines such as math, science, and history. Successful practitioners in these areas have always engaged in playful and inspired ways of thinking and learning that look nothing like the rote memorization and repetition we call “school.”

Feb 27 2011

Making bedtime stories accessible to deaf children

We have previously talked about using a PSP and semacodes to make a text book a multimedia experience. Using the same principles Longwill School, Birmingham, have been making bedtime stories accessible to deaf children. The teachers film themselves signing each page of the book. Each clip is then assigned a semacode using Second Sight Content Creation Suite such that when the PSP camera is directed at the semacode the appropriate signing is triggered.

The children borrow the bedtime story books from the school library along with the memory stick on which the clips have been copied and also a Second Sight application UMD.

The following is a short clip showing the experience the children get.

Jan 27 2011

Sony’s Next Generation PSP

Sony has today announced their Next Generation Portable (NGP). This Engadget article outlines the vast array of features on this new device, however just to give you a feel I quote from the article

“Specs include a quad-core ARM Cortex-A9 processor, 5-inch touchscreen OLED display with 960 x 544 resolution, dual analog sticks (not nubs as on the current generation), 3G, WiFi, GPS, a rear-mounted touchpad, the same accelerometer / gyroscope motion sensing as in the PlayStation Move, an electronic compass, and cameras on both the front and back”

For those of us who have long been exploiting the PSP as a learning device these features are very welcome. The PSP was starting to look a little limited compared to devices such as smart from, iPad and iPod touches. As soon as we can get out hands on one, and that looks like it is a few months off yet, I am really excited about the possibilities.

I feel we will be posting a great deal about this device as more and more information becomes available. In the mean time here are a couple of images:

Sony NGP Front

Sony NGP Front

Sony NGP Back

Sony NGP Back

Jan 19 2011

Games Consoles in Education – Metro.co.uk Article

Link to an article published by the Metro on the 18th January 2011.


I am quoted at the end making the point that those of us who see the impact on learning that using devices such as the PSP has, have a job to do explaining the benefits to both parents and indeed school teachers and managers. For anyone who knows me they will know that is not the only thing I said about what we have been able to achieve. I guess it is the nature od newspaper articles that they can only quote so much.

As educational newspaper articles go this was a pretty thorough job establishing the principles of what has been done. This blog has taken a more in depth look of the work over the last four years. I would encourage any reader of this article to look at the archives and additional pages

Dec 30 2010

BAFTA Video Games Lecture – Alex Evans

Thought provoking lecture by Alex Evans c0-director of Media Molecule creators of Little Big Planet. BAFTA Video GamesLecture 2010.

Link to BAFTA page


Link to Video


Dec 29 2010

Integrating Digital Games and Education

Many of us believe that digital games in supporting the learning that takes place in school. I talk about “learning in school” as somewhat of a contrivance. Learning can take place at different times and in different places, it is not the preserve of the classroom. To be successful at gaming requires learning to take place, however ¬†educators may ask, what has been learnt. Schools are required to teach specific things and because of this I use the team “learning in school”.

I found this an interesting article illustrating some of the issues which need to be tackled before teachers become confident in using games for learning.


Some tips from the article:

1. Play a little. To be effective at integrating digital games into learning, teachers should spend time playing games themselves. Teachers need to be familiar with what’s in a game and how it works before using it with students. Finding a cheat sheet or walk-through of commercial games online beforehand can be helpful.

2. Make time for staff development. Although some professional development can occur informally through teacher discussions, having a dedicated time and space for talking about game-based instruction helps move the process forward.

3. Get involved. Using games in the classroom is not a passive activity. Students need teachers to help draw out the connections between what’s going on in the game and what they’re learning in class.

4. Rely on students. Many are familiar with digital games, and asking them to share their knowledge can be engaging and empowering.

5. Don’t be afraid. For game-based instruction to be successful, teachers have to feel comfortable making mistakes. If teachers avoid new approaches, they will not embrace innovative teaching methods.

Dec 01 2010

Cool way to organise bookmarks – Symbaloo

We don’t talk a lot about about the applications we use and rarely recommend anything (perhaps we ought to do a lot more!) however this is one web based application that we will be using in our presentations, it’s cool, it’s slick, it presents the right image and best of all it is easy.

Symbaloo is a free service for individuals. It uses tiles on a grid as links to websites. They call them web mixes and you can create lots of them.

Example Page:

Symbaloo Page

Symbaloo - Web Mix

The ability to share web mixes with others, and I am thinking particularly of a class of students who are undertaking research and you want to give them a few leads, it potentially really useful. We have spoken about Personal Learning Environments (PLE) and technology supporting the individual learner. Well here is something that is simple to use yet is a powerful driver for developing PLEs.

If you take a look at the forum teachers have shared some of their web mixes. When I have done some more research I will add some links to these resources.


Dec 01 2010

Presenting at Conference for Science Teachers of Texas

He have just spent an interesting few days at the CAST conference in Houston Texas. Organised by the Science Teachers Association of Texas and attended by somewhere in the region of 8000 teachers. I think we were the only people out of State not to mention out of the Country. We introduced many of the technologies we have been using over the last 4 years and the delegates had some hands on experience using PSPs. It was interesting that some of the schools had PSPs but tended to use them in a very limited way, most usually to complete a practice activity in preparation for the standard tests which had been developed for the device.

Hopefully all went away with at least the thought that such devices could be used in a much more creative way to engage students and support learning.

I thought a highlight was skyping with a physics teacher back in the UK. Only two of the delegates were Skype users and non and used them in a learning context. Hopefully some will give it a try.

Throughout the whole 3 day conference there seemed to be a very strong influence on testing and getting the best results. Understandable and it is clear that students need to get good test scores in order to progress trough the education system, but is this approach going to meet the need for highly talented individuals capable of meeting the challenges of the 21st Century! This is perhaps the crux of the debate that is raging in educational circles.

We continue to develop our thoughts about how we gain traction in developing our new approaches and concepts in an educationally conservative environment.

Our only major disappointment was that of the 60 delegates that signed up for our presentation we only saw 14. Not good news when you have travelled 5000 miles, but at least those 14 received the best we have to offer and a good deal of individual attention.

Link for STAT: http://www.statweb.org/

Nov 24 2010

Global Symposium

The Capital Region For Technology in Education Global Symposium was a week long online event held in October 2010. We were fortunate to be asked to present a session.

Elluminate was used to power the event, a very new experience for us.

This is the link to the archive: http://crste.org/globalsymposium2010.html

We are second on the list of presenters.

A vote of thanks must go to Walter McKenzie who organised the event, superbly done!

Update post 1st December 2010 http://edge.ascd.org/_From-Drift-to-Shift-Celebrating-the-Transformation-of-Education/blog/3011433/127586.html

Nov 23 2010

Games Based Learning on YouTube

Games based learning is a key area in which we have been working for some time. It is useful to get other peoples views and definitions of what is GBL. Some interesting stuff on YouTube. I will build up the list on links in this post:

A big thanks to the people who have gone to the time a trouble to share their thoughts and ideas.

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