October 2016, Paisley: Games Based Learning

Website: www.academic-conferences.org/conferences/ecgbl/

6-7 October 2016, The University of the West of Scotland, Paisley, Scotland.

This is a traditional academic conference, with a European field of speakers. Papers submitted to this particular series of conferences are often reproduced in several publications, and there’s been some interesting works concerning the evidence and proof of effective game use in learning within these.

Keynote Speaker Outlines.

From the conference website: “Welcome to the 10th anniversary of the European Conference in Games-based Learning. For the 10th anniversary we return to where ECGBL started, Scotland. Over the last 10 years, we have explored and debated different aspects of games-based learning. While we know more about the use of games in education and training since ECGBL started, there are still many open research questions and there is still a dearth of empirical evidence and, in particular, longitudinal studies.”

Making Sense of Games

Congratulations to Espen Aarseth, the Principal Researcher in the Center for Computer Games Research at the IT University of Copenhagen, on securing a significant grant from the European Research Council.

Making Sense of Games will begin in November 2016 and will create four PhD positions and four postdoc positions during the five-year project period. This will add to the already considerable expertise and research output produced by the Center, as well as giving more credibility to the academic cross-discipline study of games.

The Center has been around for a while now (it’s often a surprise to people, especially academics from other disciplines, to discover that this discipline has been an active field of research for decades, not years). The BBC published an article on it in 2004, and I did a short and enjoyable course there back in 2003 which was co-ordinated by Espen. It was pretty good, I picked up some ECTS’s, and I’m still in touch with several of the others on that course. It had the added bonus of being in Copenhagen in December, and it’s always great to visit a Scandinavian city in the run up to Christmas.

Espen himself has been a stand-out person in the field for a long time, and is the Editor-in-Chief of Game Studies, an Open Access journal of high quality writing that’s also been around a long while now.

There’s an interview with Espen in Motherboard, and Gamasutra have a piece too.

Game-based learning: latest evidence and future directions

In 2013, the National Foundation for Educational Research released this report:

Game-based learning: latest evidence and future directions.

Authors: Carlo Perrotta, Gill Featherstone, Helen Aston and Emily Houghton.

Data examined: 31 works of various types from 2006-13.

Abstract: This review is the first output in the Innovation in Education strand of NFER’s research programme. This strand will provide evidence about new approaches to education, teaching and learning and aims to identify rewarding learning experiences that will inspire, challenge and engage all young people, equipping them with the essential skills and attitudes for life, learning and work in the 21st Century. Interest around the use of video games in education is high, and following the emergence of new trends like ‘gamification’, Futurelab@NFER felt that it was timely to provide educators, industry and researchers with an up-to-date analysis of the literature.

To achieve this, we conducted a rapid review of the latest available evidence, seeking to answer these research questions:

  • What is game-based learning?
  • What is the impact and potential impact of game-based learning on learners’ engagement and attainment?
  • What is the nature and extent of the evidence base?
  • What are the implications for schools?

The research questions are mainly concerned with the notion of ‘gameplay’ (playing games) rather than ‘making games’ (how the prospect of creating original video games can be used to interest young people in complex activities like software programming).

Excerpt: Despite some promising results, the current literature does not evidence adequately the presumed link between motivation, attitudes to learning and learning outcomes. Overall, the strength of the evidence has been affected by the research design or lack of information about the research design.

My notes: This recent work is a less academically-analytical work, and more wider in remit, than a typical meta-review of evidence. The content and format are, in addition, designed for a more non-academic readership. However, it does not suffer because of this and there is much here of interest to both academics and practitioners. The appendices pleasingly includes thorough details of the search strategy, review process and the evidence base for the review.

More information at: