Please find the Consolarium podcast about the CPD event at Dundee available here for the time being. If you want to find out about what happened at the event then visit the post on the Consolarium's blog.
I’m over in Singapore this week at the ICET 2007 conference. The title of this year’s conference is, Rethinking Pedagogies: Creating Possibilities through Digital & Interactive Media. I was kindly invited and sponsored by the British Council in Singapore to come out to the conference and present what has been happening with games based learning via the Consolarium and this is due to happen this afternoon…
I’m glad to say that after a fantastic night’s sleep (the jet-lag was terrible, no sleep on the first night at all) I am feeling particularly chirpy this morning and ready to go. The atmosphere within the conference had helped because everyone is so positive and interested in what is going on and what is being said.
Yesterday’s opening remarks from the Deputy Education Minster proved to be very interesting for me. Games based learning was mentioned a number of times by her and she saw this as part of:
“...The seamless and pervasive integration of ICT into teaching and learning.”
She also felt that approaches such a problem based learning and games based learning would help:
“…prepare students for a rapidly changing world so that they can adapt to what they don’t know or what they can’t do at present.”
Quite a powerful vision I thought. This was not just words though. The Singapore Government have been working with local industry and academic partners to try to make games based learning a part of what is happening in schools within the island state. Yesterday, I went along to two presentations that detailed the development of two games that will be delivered to all schools.
One is called Statecraft and it is a History game that puts you in the place of a medieval Emperor in either South East Asia, China or India. You have to make decisions about developing and maintaining the power, health and wealth of the state and of your own position. It’s still in development but it looked quite engaging.
The other games was called Simplicity and is a geography based game that looks at how you can develop a city from a third world to a first world state. They have packaged this up so that it looks like Singapore in geographical terms and again it looks rather impressive.
The company that they are working with on these games is called Playware Studios . Games based learning in classrooms it seems is something that Singapore has already switched itself on to and I look forward to hearing what they think about the way we have begun to do similar things in Scotland.
I was at a school in Falkirk recently and they were using Phoenix Wright for the Nintendo DS in their English Language class. I have long been of the opinion that games such as Phoenix Wright and other games such as Hotel Dusk: Room 215 could be used to encourage imaginative and creative language tasks in reading writing, talking and listening. Coupled with an application such as 'Comic Life' (now available for PC)then there is you have a very powerful combination to engage and motivate writing in particular.
For teachers interested in this approach you may be interested to know that Marvel Comics are offering free access to a selection of online comics featuring a variety of Super Heroes for a limited period. Along with graphic novels many of these comics not only encourage reading but they very often, if not always, offer social commentary or even explore more complex themes and issues in quite a substantial way.
Anyway, who was your favourite Super Hero? Wonder Woman was always my favourite superhero-especially when she twirled and used her golden bracelets to deflect bullets from would be assassins!
Now, collaboration between local authority partners and the Consolarium is generally very good. When things are going well I usually find that we are in step with our thinking, we’ve made sure that the timing is right and overall the tempo has to be appropriate for things to move smoothly forward. Now the relationship with Stirling Council and the ICT Development team (Margaret Cassidy, Joe Shaw and Sally Fulton QIO) is very much up there in hitting all the dance metaphor criteria but surely this is taking it too far:
Thanks to Margaret Cassidy for this masterpiece, I haven’t laughed so much in ages. If you want to have a go at making your own then get some heads cut out in Photoshop and tackle them to www.jibjab.com. I’m sure that much mirth and merriment will ensue!
I was with the Margaret and Joe today capturing case study material for the Consolarium’s website and I had my audio-visual maestro, Barrie Barreto, with me. Margaret knew he was coming along so in order to ensure that he did not feel left out she made another jib jab movie with me and him in it. By the way, Barrie is the one with the puppy fat! ;-)
For those of you who are keen to explore dance mats in school but don't have access to a games console then have a look at this resource. It is called Stepmania and it is a free download dance ,at game that you can olay from your PC. All you need is a USB adaptor for your dance mat then of you go, a challenge to Bruce Forsyth on easy and then John Travolta on hard. Remeber guys, take the high heels off first.
Out of all the consoles that I have the one that I have found myself using the least is the PS3. This might appear to be surprising to some of you considering the reputation of this beast as THE next generation console but in terms of what I do there are/were very little in the way of games that I could use in terms of teaching and learning in schools for it. However, I think things are going to change…
I have just received Eye of Judgement for the PS3. This game comes with the next generation EyeToy but this time it is called EyeCamera. The technology in this is quite something and I must say that I have become very excited about my *S3 for really the first time since it arrived. In essence Eye of Judgement is a trading card game, almost like Pokemon or Top Trumps except these cards come to life. Yes, that’s right, they come to life. If you remember the scene from Star Wars where they play chess with holographic characters then you are getting close to the Eye of Judgement. Have a look at it:
It’s been quite difficult to get in to a first but now I am getting g to grips with it I am beginning to see ways in which this could be used in some learning contexts. More of this to come...
What has excited me even more about the PS3 was the discovery of a whole new range of EyeCamera games for the PS3 that can be bought and downloaded from the Sony Online store.
Mesmerise Did anyone ever buy you that desktop toy that is made of lots of round-edged metal spikes that when you placed your hand on it the spikes moved to create a relief image of your hand? Well this is what Mesmerise does and more. There are lots of environments that the user interacts with and manipulates by movement and sound. I found myself completely transfixed by and relaxed in this environment.
Tori Emaki If you have played Okami then you’ll appreciate the beautiful graphics in this game. It’s very much in the style of the Japanese artists such Hokusai who painted the Great Wave of Kanagawa. It’s really beautiful and enchanting. The idea of the game is that you control the flight path of a flock of crows as they glide through this wonderful Japanese environment. Discover where the different gods are in order to change the colour of the screens. I found myself spontaneously reciting haiku as I played this…
Consolarium Games based learning ideas Come in and ponder
What class eh? Anyway, have a look at the game:
Operation Creature Feature It seems as though the Logical Journey of the Zoombinis have been a major influence in the design of this game. This game introduces you to the Blurbs, cute little lovable creatures whose cosy world is invaded by a dark cloud. Your task is to guide the Blurbs through a series of increasingly difficult puzzles in order to, no doubt, reach the new land where there are no dark clouds. This was hugely entertaining, fun and tiring, my shoulders were knackered at the end of it. Have a look:
Aqua Vita This game is soothing interactive art experience that turns your Whiteboard or TV into a virtual aquarium. Before long you’ll find that you have lost yourself in a peaceful underwater haven. In fact, as I write this blogpost I’m watching a lion fish floating in the water across the way from me….how relaxed am I?!
The game encourages you to interact with it by allowing you to run your hands over the water’s surface and watch the ripples catch the light. Dabble your fingers into the tank and fish food will sprinkle down to the hungry marine life within.
Have a look:
The Trials of Topoq If you have played Kororinpa for thew Wii then you’ll have an understanding of how this works. This game sees your image mapped onto the surfaces of Topoq's soaring towers - every movement you make altering them and sending your ball hurtling in a new direction. Can you use your body to control its descent and see it safely to the end of 30 courses? You'll be racing against time, avoiding gargoyles and smashing through cages - while the mysterious towers themselves do their best to stop you...
Now that’s the stuff Sony, engaging mini-games that I can retro-fit into particular contexts within schools. This machine has real potential and I’m sure that there will be more to come from it in the months ahead.