July 8, 2011

Great Resources (July): Assessment, Youth Culture, Games & Learning

Category: Edtech
students posing excited after giving presentation

Do we need badges, specifically badges for learning? In recent years, the answer has been increasingly, if not exactly “yes” then something more like “we better find out before it’s too late.” The new interest around badges appears to have begun in response to a talk by Eva L. Baker, “The End(s) of Testing,” her 2007 Presidential Address for the American Educational Research Association. Critiquing assessment within schools, she never actually used the term “badges” but rather, “qualifications.” The response by some academics and foundations soon converged with, as described to me by James Paul Gee, “people influenced by gaming that saw the motivating power of the ‘achievements’ built into games.” A lot of this work is nascent, but the most concrete was recently made public by the Open Badges Project. This project, being developed by P2PU and the Mozilla Foundation, is a technical approach, their goal being to build “an open platform that will enable anyone to issue, collect and display badges.” The goal? Their goals are understandably bold — “Open Badges will help learners everywhere unlock career and educational opportunities, and recognize skills that traditional resumes and transcripts often leave out” — but the new project’s website offers an impressive array of use cases from which we can all track and learn. It also offers great downloads, like the beautifully designed one-pagers that explain what makes badges so interesting. Global Kids is watching this work very closely, and collaborating with the project where we can, as we have worked for over three years implementing badging systems in a wide variety of settings (and even gave a short talk on the subject at last March’s Games, Learning and Society Conference).

Resource for Statistical Data on Teens and Technology (research)
For more than a decade, the Pew Research Center has compiled an in-depth study of young people and their consumption of technology. Every few months we were lucky to get insight into their data through their excellent and public analysis. Now, Pew is opening the floodgates. The amount of previously released data, back to 2000, is remarkable. Pew takes it to a new level, as trends can be tracked over time, with data available regarding basic Internet user demographics, gadget ownership, online activities, Internet access type, and technology usage over time from 2000 through 2009. “Each trend set comes with visual charts or Excel files for download along with the pertinent links that enable researchers to drill-back to the original questionnaire and topline report.” For anyone interested in getting beyond the hopes and fears within common wisdom to better understand teens’ actual relationship with technology, set aside an hour or two and go check it out.

Don’t Play Games With Me! Promises and Pitfalls of Gameful Design (presentation)
177 slides might sound daunting at first, but this deck from Sebastian Deterding is worth every click. It is perhaps best described from this one blogger’s review: “I’m not a ‘gamification’ expert, but IMHO this presentation totally nails the pros and cons and legitimate cautions concerning games vs. gamification. It’s very even-handed.” If you are new to the idea, this can be a great place to start. Unlike most decks, where you can only imagine what the speakers might have been saying, Deterding includes commentary with each slide, so the full meaning comes through. There is even an audio file of his talk you listen to as you click.

Major Themes during Games for Change Festival (conference)
Al Gore keynoted the 8th annual Games for Change Festival, which took place in New York City on June 20-22nd. As the largest conference dedicated to games as tools for social change, it drew a large and diverse audience over the course of three days, and representatives from the Games For Change Korea, Europe and South America. One blogger put together a great summary of the major themes during the Festival: Teaching Youth Game Design, Empirical Assessment on the Effects of Games, Direct Impact, Social Games, and Fun. The video archives are still being fleshed out, but don’t miss Jess Schell’s closing keynote (left many in tears) and my interview with the only youth presenter. As one of the co-founders of Games For Change, I was fortunate enough to appear in some of the television coverage of the event.

Top 100 Learning Game Resources (online resource)

As a follow-up to Games For Change, here is a great list of resources (100!) for the development of learning games. Perhaps you are already creating games for learning, or you want to start using them in the classroom. This list of resources is comprehensive and very helpful.

Global Kids does an awesome job each month flagging relevant resources for us. Daria Ng, Juan Rubio, and Joliz Cedeno contributed to this month’s picks. Please share what you’re reading and watching, too.

Global Kids’ NYC-based programs address the need for young people to possess leadership skills and an understanding of complex global issues to succeed in the 21st century workplace and participate in the democratic process.

Banner image credit: Global Kids http://www.flickr.com/photos/holymeatballs/5815969348/in/photostream/