In this first edition of the Serious Games Network Newsletter in 2014 we will review the SEGAN conference activity in the past semester.
In addition we will also summarize the findings of the latest Topic of the Month.
Resistance to Games
The recent Topic of the Month sought to identify the most common arguments against the use of games for learning. Several of the same resistances were mentioned across the board and were not limited to teachers or parents views with students also joining the debate.
Both teachers and parents frequently questioned the credibility of games for learning and argued that the violent and addictive nature of games does not have a place in the classroom. Even teachers who were receptive to using games with their students faced barriers from school policy makers with regard, once again, to the credibility of Serious Games, the cost of games or consoles, and the time required to integrate this approach in the classroom. Some students argued that the very nature of the phrase “Serious Games” can be off-putting and conjures images of self-assessment quizzes vaguely masked by very basic elements of interaction. Others were sceptical of the use of commercial games for learning, particularly those that played the games regularly and recreationally.
The discussion led to the concurrent belief that, in order to address these resistances, each of the resistances should be addressed and solutions offered where possible. Shared experiences, lesson plans, guidelines and good practice examples should be made available to guide teachers, parents, students and policy makers on the most effective way of using games in the classroom.
The image below summarises the main resistances that were noted from the discussions:
Online Educa 2014
Each year in early December, the ONLINE EDUCA conference takes place in Berlin. This is a key European conference in the field of technologies in education, and, as in the year before, the SEGAN network was present at the conference, actively engaging with conference participants in order to promote the activities of the network. Three different strategies were adopted to achieve this. The first of these, perhaps the most conventional approach, was through conference presentations. Though SEGAN itself as a network was this year not the subject of a specific research presentation, the participating member of the network who spoke on new literacies identity and learning referred extensively to the activity of SEGAN and serious games during his presentation, and the discussion that followed it. He was also interviewed on Internet radio announcers talk.
The second strategy used was the SIG lunch. These activities are organised by the conference to provide opportunities for more informal but also more intensive interaction between conference participants around a particular subject area. These subject areas are proposed by the conference participants themselves, and the lunch takes place if there is a quorum of interest in a particular subject area. In the case of the Serious Games lunch, organised by SEGAN, there was considerable interest and the session was in fact oversubscribed. The lunch provided useful opportunities to present the SEGAN network and for each of the participating individuals to present their work in this area and discuss some issues around serious games. As usual the lunch proved too short and many discussions continued between the participants afterwards and at different times during the rest of the conference.
The third approach used was the traditional networking approach. The conference there was visited and SEGAN was presented at each of the stalls at the conference fair. At the conference presentations attended by SEGAN members, opportunities were taken to present and discuss the work of the network in the discussion sections of parallel sessions. In this way the network achieved a good level of presence at the conference. The European Commission held a pre-conference workshop, which was obligatory for project coordinators so SEGAN was present there too, though the degree to which it can be considered a dissemination opportunity is questionable.
SEGAN Conference Activity
During the second semester of 2013, SEGAN was present at a range of different conferences, participating (through the exploitation partner ANDAMIO) in presentations and round table discussions, serving both to publicise the network and contribute to the discussions. Given the challenges involved in integrating serious games in education the importance of participating in the wider TEL discussion cannot be underestimated. The first of these conferences was the Personal Learning Environments
conference in Berlin in July 2013. SEGAN, and games in education were subjects that came up in several of the conference workshops and in the closing Pecha Kucha session.
In August SEGAN went to México and was present at the CIAMTE
conference, run by the National Autonomous University of México (the largest in Latin America). The focus of this conference was on learning in virtual worlds and the use of simulations, and this led to several interesting discussions in round tables about the nature of serious games and their relation to these subjects. Nick Kearney the representative of SEGAN at the conference was also interviewed for the university TV channel.
In November SEGAN was presented at the University of Salamanca TEEM (Technological Ecosystems for Enhancing Multiculturality) conference. The focus of this conference this year included several sessions on informal learning and the role of games in this kind of learning and the relation to formal educational contexts was extensively discussed in these sessions. The very international nature of this conference helped to spread the word about SEGAN to a wider audience.