Category Archives: Game Development Based Learning

Learning to code – local, national, international, online

I learned about yet another coding/computing for kids thing today… the South East Scotland ComputerXPlorers, part of what seems to be an international franchise operation of local programming clubs & in-school learning for kids. Looking round the business side of the site, the franchise business aspect is very clear, but it looks like the school and after school activities they do are reasonably well designed and planned – covering the likes of Scratch programming and computer animation.

This gets added to a bunch of other computing/coding for kids things…

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Danger! Gamification!

Today I was speaking at the Learning through Gaming event at Dundee College, part of the Festival of Dangerous ideas organised by the College Development Network. Gerry Dougan asked me if I wanted to talk about Gamification, and as I have fairly strong dislike for the term I readily agreed!

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Festival of Dangerous Ideas

I’m not sure how many dangerous ideas there will be (some?), but the Festival of Dangerous Ideas will be taking place around Scotland in June.

From the Festival web-site:

The Festival of Dangerous Ideas aims to re-establish the importance of dangerous ideas as agents of change in education – to shift the axis of what is possible!

It is for everyone who is passionate about education including college, university, school staff and students as well as those engaged in education throughout the creative communities.

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Scratch 2 and Snap/BYOB 4

Scratch 2 is now in beta, here.

Great timing, as just after a whole load of teacher resources for Scratch get published (CAS RPi manual, and RSE packs), Scratch 2.0 gets announced with a range of very useful additions to the language. More on this – and another version of Scratch with procedures – below.

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Game Based Learning / Serious Games Journals

Trying to rebuild a list of journals dealing specifically with game-based learning, serious games, and virtual worlds. Obviously, anything to do with digital media and learning or computers and learning can be relevant to much wider range of journals, but it is also worthwhile knowing about the journals that focus on these specific areas. I’ll perhaps add to this list over time, and know that I’ll have missed some, but here goes a first attempt…
[Edit: added Virtual Education Journal 21st Jan 2013]
[Edit: added The Computer Games Journal 9th Sept 2013]

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Calls for Papers: VS-Games & Virtual Worlds III

Two recent calls, Virtual Worlds III (Paris in July, papers by 16th Feb.) & IEEE VS Games 2012 (Genoa in October, papers by 18th May)

Virtual Worlds III has Craig Reynolds and Ken Perlin lined up for keynotes (two incredibly influential academics, Reynolds work on ‘boids has had a huge influence on agent based AI in games, and Perlin’s impact in graphics has been immense).

No keynotes announced yet for VS Games, but is supported by the EU FP7 GALA network of excellence, so will be guaranteed to bring along many of Europe’s top games and learning researchers.

Games:Edu 2010 roundup

I haven’t managed to make it to a Games:Edu event till now (the events previously had a tendency to clash with my vacations, and I sometimes get tired of travelling during the course of the year). I greatly enjoyed today’s (well yesterdays – posting this just after midnight) event however – and was happy to see that there was actually a lot of agreement between industry representatives and academics during the course of the day. In particular, a number of speakers (myself included) emphasised the need for group projects that help develop team work skills, and open-ended projects which give room for the best students to excel. How we do this while also supporting students who are not excelling was one issue that was discussed – without a definitive answer.

I’ll post my own presentation soon – my keynote was on the challenges facing games education in universities in the UK – most of which are actually challenges facing the whole sector in the UK. I even got to include my “University of Somewhere” org chart – featuring the Dept. of Innovation Prevention. This particular slide had a very good response, and discussion during tea breaks confirmed previous reports that such a department seems to exist in most universities.

University Org Chart: Dept of Innovation Prevention
The programme was nicely balanced, with some discussion on teaching game development in schools and FE (courtesy of David Brockbank), alongside a number of university and industry speakers.

A late addition to the programme, Mike Reddy discussed paizogogy – the pedagogy of making games. This builds on Papert’s constructionism, and in an engaging talk (sat next to Mike, I was impressed as he developed his game-art homage graphics immediately prior to his presentation) Mike challenged us to spend more time creating games ourselves – using cards, paper, boards or possibly even computers. Can’t say I’m not tempted.

Saint John-Walker from Skillset encouraged universities to apply for accreditation – and to initiate discussion with Skillset if they are interested. Don’t let fear of failure hold you back was his message. This talk was nicely balanced by a presentation from Michael Powell (De Montfort University) who gave an engaging talk on the challenges of applying for (and obtaining) Skillset accreditation. This brought back some memories and really emphasised one of the challenges I identified – the paper mountain facing lecturers and course leaders.

Carol Clark outlined the RealTimeWorlds approach to mentoring new graduate employees. The emphasis here was on learning by doing and becoming a member of the team. This idea of teaching game developers by placing them into effective communities of practice (to put an academic spin on it) seemed to be one of the main themes of the day – as these ideas recurred in several talks. Including Grant Clarke’s. Grant leads the Abertay Master of Professional Practice course – in which students work as members of their own game development teams in a studio setting.

Finally, Maria Stukoff of Sony Computer Entertainment Europe outlined the current PlayStation Edu schemes and opportunities – most exciting of which is that universities can now apply for the same PS3 DevKits as used in industry – no longer any need to rely on PS3 Linux (with its many limitations) for courses wanting to explore developing for the Cell processor and PS3 hardware. Included in this is the cross-platform Phyre engine and access to the PS Dev network. The costs are such that I wouldn’t expect many places to establish a full lab of 20 PS3 DevKits, but with shared access it should be possible to integrate into console development modules with just a few machines. Fingers crossed we can free up some money from our budgets to get a few of these soon…

Innovation In Application Development

Writing today at the Innovation in Application Development event in Stirling, put together by Scotland’s Colleges (formerly SFEU). Just now Nigel Kennington is demonstrating using Alice to teach programming, and discussing what aspects of computer programming can be taught with Alice. He’s had a very good experience in the lower levels – with much higher engagement from students.

Next up is a demonstration of using XNA, and this morning there were a pair of Apple talks on iPhone development. I’ll be closing the day talking about teaching programming with scripting in Second Life and OpenSim. As this talk is for colleges where many students will be under 18, I’ll be focussing on OpenSim. I was going to use Tony Hirst’s feedshow but it seems to be broken – but you can grab the ‘presentation’ part of my talk (I’ll try to spend more time actually *in* OpenSim, showing how it works, and what can be done) from delicious here:

http://delicious.com/djlivi/IIAD?setcount=15

10th HEA ICS programming workshop

(After a number of slow months with few posts, March looks a lot busier as I try to get back into the habit of keeping notes!)

The Higher Education Academy’s subject centre in Information and Computer Science is holding it’s 10th workshop on teaching programming at the end of March in Brighton. Details on the workshop here.

The afternoon of the workshop is heavily loaded with presentations related to the use of game based learning, and learning through game development – the final three presentations being:

Michaela Black – Successful Game Based Learning for Programming

Colin Price – Learning and Teaching Programming using the Unreal Tournament Game Engine

Kent McClymond – Teaching and Learning Programming Through Computer Games

Places are still available if you want to attend. I won’t be there, sadly, but I’ll be checking back after the 30th – the HEA ICS usually put presentation materials online.

Innovation in Application Development – Teaching Programming in FE

The Scottish Further Education Unit are organising the Innovation in Application Development event on the 1st of April in Stirling:

Scotland’s Colleges, in association with representatives from Apple and colleges in Scotland are hosting this awareness raising event.  The morning sessions will look at the use of Apple application development tools within current programmes and the potential for integrating development of iPhone apps into curriculum delivery.

In the afternoon, there will be sessions on Alice programming, Xbox / XNA Games studio programming and Second Life programming.  As well as an opportunity to consider innovation in the delivery of programming within the curriculum, it is also an opportunity to network with colleagues from across the sector regarding the use of these applications.

Presentations will cover iPhone development, using Alice (the Java 3D storytelling and game making engine) and more. I’ll be there also, talking about using Second Life and/or OpenSim as a platform for teaching programming. The whole event is free – register online and get yourself to Stirling!