Teaching fellowship @ SLV

Linda Angeloni, the Education Programs and Offsite Learning Manager, Learning Services at the State Library of Victoria has kindly sent Bright Ideas the following information.

The State Library of Victoria’s William Buckland Foundation Teaching Fellowships provide teachers in the first five years of their career with a rare opportunity to further their curriculum planning and professional research skills in a world class cultural institution.

Recipients receive the opportunity to work within the Library’s Learning Services Division for one semester and contribute to the development of innovative learning programs and research projects relating to the Library’s collections and resources. Funding will be provided to fill the applicant’s position at their school during the period of the fellowship.

For more information, application information or to attend a free information session on April 30th, please email langeloni@slv.vic.gov.au or call 8664 7015.

Free professional learning @ SLV

 A few more interesting events are coming up at the State Library of Victoria, all of them are free of charge (but bookings are required), which in this financial environment has got to be good.

On Tuesday 5th May, there is a forum on ‘The Web 2.0 World’. The forum will examine the use of Web 2.0 technologies to find, engage and collaborate with users. Click here  to book.

On Tuesday 19th May, The Learning to Learn series focuses on ‘Today’s Kids,  Tomorrow’s School.’ This session will look how students need to learn and what impact new approaches to education are having on students and their futures. Click here  to book.

On Tuesday 9th June, ‘The Web 2.0 World: Play’ gives participants the option to experiment with Web 2.0 tools and technologies. (The link for booking this session is not yet available. It will be added when ready.)

These sessions are not only relevant to teachers/librarians, but can count towards the VIT PD requirements.

Games ‘valuable learning tool’

A very interesting article has been published in today’s edition of The Age Green Guide entitled Games ‘valuable learning tool’.  Written by Jason Hill, the article says, ‘Education experts say computer games boost a range of skills in children’.

April 9, 2009

Education experts say computer games boost a range of skills in children, writes Jason Hill.

Computer games can be a positive learning tool for children as young as three, according to Australian education experts.

Patricia and Don Edgar, authorities on children’s media, education and social trends, recently wrote a paper for the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority in which they argue that there is growing evidence that games are effective and valuable learning tools.

Skills developed from games include comprehension, decision making, multitasking, collaboration, concentration, leadership and communication.

Dr Patricia Edgar says it is not surprising some parents fear the impact of games on their kids, because many “fear the unknown” or are concerned about violence.

“Anyone with children knows how absorbed and passionate about games kids can become,” Dr Edgar says. “Parents worry about something that takes over their kids’ lives as games do – games which they can’t see much point to.”

Dr Edgar, whose latest book is titled The New Child: in search of smarter grown-ups, encourages parents to “sit with kids, let them explore and learn”.

“Parents have to put in the time. Then they will know the content of the games, and their involvement will help the kids to learn.”

Dr Edgar believes games can also have an important role in the classroom, although more research and investment is needed to produce educational games that enable kids to learn at their own pace and collaborate with others. The games also need to be fun, she argues.

“Kids always learn best when they are entertained. Entertainment should not preclude education, but somehow we have this notion that if something is educational it has to be serious and can’t be fun.”

Dr Edgar says some educators have had their distrust of new media vindicated over the past decade as “the entertainment industry has commercialised childhood and turned kids into consumers producing material for its merchandising potential”.

“(But) I think we are about ready for a change in these values, which could lead to some healthy, profitable, educational entertainment to bridge the divide.”

She believes it is a positive step that libraries are now offering computer games, both for their learning potential and for attracting children to the institutions.

Lalor Library in north-eastern Melbourne has enjoyed success through introducing consoles such as the Xbox and Wii into the library, as well as networked PC games. Branch manager Felicity Macchion says her priority in introducing gaming three years ago was to offer disadvantaged community members access to new technology, and she has been thrilled with the results. “Implementing video-gaming into the library environment has increased memberships, borrowings and has created an enjoyable atmosphere for all ages.”

Earlier this week, the State Library of Victoria hosted an event enabling gaming newcomers to get hands-on with the latest releases and discuss how the games can be used positively in public institutions such as libraries and schools.

For several years the library’s Experimedia section has featured locally developed games.

For the latest gaming news, visit www.blogs.theage.com.au/screenplay

As per previous Bright Ideas posts on the State Library’s Press Play initiative, Getting video games on the school agenda and the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development’s video games trial games are well worth investigating as part of a total pedagogy that caters for today’s children and encourages engagement and attendance.

Press play review

On Tuesday 7 April, the State Library of Victoria hosted “Press Play: a get into video games” event. It gave attendees access to award winning games like Little Big Planet as well as Guitar Hero, Wii fit and Brain Training. Offering a range of consoles such as Wii, Playstation 3 and Nintendo DS, there was something for every one.

A further event is planned for later in the year, so if you are curious about how gaming can be used in schools and libraries, please consider attending. It is highly recommended for taking games for a test drive and thinking about how they could be used in educational contexts as well as having a chat with experts in their fields. 

On the topic of gaming and libraries, Christine Mackenzie, the CEO of Yarra Plenty Regional Library wrote this on her blog on 6 April.

Installing screens, games and tvs is our way of showing that education, learning, recreation and culture can come in all different kinds of media and are all equally appropriate in a public library. We hope you agree!

Christine has outlined the idea that learning can encompass many formats and many educators agree with her, yet so many still violently disagree with the idea that learning should progress as society has.

If you think about the changes to society, industry and communications over the past 200 years, why is there such a resistance by some people for education to keep pace with these changes? It is true that there are some very violent and inappropriate games on the market that may make some people shy away from this particular media as a learning tool. But as teachers, we would no more consider using such games as we would showing inappropriate films to our students. 

Congratulations to the State Library of Victoria and Hamish Curry and his team for a fun and interesting evening.

Getting video games on the school agenda

For anyone who showed an interest in using video games for educational learning, there seems to be a plethora of information around about libraries, schools and gaming. You may have to refer to one or more of these sites to get gaming on your school agenda. Here is a selection of those sites.

 The American Library Association has a website named ‘The Librarian’s Guide to Gaming’, which is ‘an online toolkit for building gaming @ your library. There is a lot of information on the site which includes ‘tools and resources’, ‘best practice’ and ‘evaluation’.

American Library Association Gaming Toolkit

American Library Association Gaming Toolkit

 Helen Boelens recently let IASL members know about some more video game research that was being carried out. She says, “The research is being carried out by a researcher at the CLU (Centrum Leermiddelen Studie Utrecht – Centre for educational tools Utrecht), together with Kennisnet, which is a Dutch national foundation which supports the use of ICT in education in the Netherlands. The CLU is affiliated with the University of Utrecht, a university which has a strong faculty of education. The study which is being carried is about the effect of serious gaming on young people of upper secondary school age (16 years of age and older) and how these games can be used as educational tools, as part of their education. This research is presently taking place. A final report will be published when the research has been completed.”

 Some other discussions about using computer games in schools include Computer games explore social issuesby Kara Platoni. “Students have to win PeaceMaker, a simulation of the Middle East peace process, twice — once while playing as the Israeli prime minister and once as the Palestinian president.”

Patricia Edgar (the founding Director of the Australian Children’s Television Foundation) and Don Edgar have written a paper on the topic of Television, Digital Media and Children’s Learning for the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority which promotes the use of all types of media in learning and teaching.

School change and video gamesby Mark Wagner, Ph.D. looks at school change through video games.

Learning to game and gaming to learn: videogames in education is a wiki with a lot of links to research that has focused on the relationship between video games and school learning.

 Videogames as learning enginesby David Warlick is another presentation that looks at the correlation between video games and learning.

 And don’t forget the State Library of Victoria is offering a chance to find out what gaming is all about at an evening of interactive play and mini-tournaments. Discover a range of video games and consoles, and meet game experts from Dissecta. It will be held on Tuesday 7 April (school holidays for Victoria) from 6-7.30pm at the State Library, in Experimedia. The session is free, but bookings are required. Please click this link to book in.

Press play

After pondering the future of libraries, including school libraries for a while now and thinking about 21st Century Learning after hearing Professor Stephen Heppell speak at the State Library of Victoria in November 2008, it’s probably time to address the concept of gaming in schools, libraries and school libraries.

Are you still reading? You haven’t fainted? Great! Library staff of all makes and models have always been exellent at managing change and the takeup of Web 2.0 over the past year or so has proven that to be true.

Gaming in schools does seem to inspire strong reactions in some people, however the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development’s Knowledge Bank: Next Generation team are currently leading action research with selected teachers in Victoria to identify potential technologies that may support learning and teaching. This project is supported by The Department of Education and Early Childhood Development, The Department of Innovation, Industry and Regional Development (Multimedia Victoria) and The Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy.

In term 2, 2009, these technologies include gaming consoles such as Nintendo DS, Nintendo Wii and Xbox 360. Being a DEECD project, there are strict guidelines and record keeping so all research can be validated. This is a major step for the DEECD in acknowledging the educational potential of gaming and backing up ideas with action research. Bright ideas will keep you up to date with developments and outcomes of the project.

Some of you may have heard Derek Robertson speak when he was in Australia in November 2008. Derek heads up the Consolarium, which is a part of Learning and Teaching Scotland. The Consolarium highlights the positive outcomes of using gaming in schools and gives excellent examples of particular games and how they have been used by teachers. The Consolarium blog has been in action since September 2007, which seems like a long time in the world of technology. Derek has lots of examples on the Consolarium blog of excellent uses of games in schools.

In late 2008, an Australian study focussing on interactive entertainment was published. Some remarkable statistics were uncovered such as:

  • 88% of households own a device for playing games
  • The average game player is 30 years old
  • Female gamers made up 46% of the gaming population.

If these facts have raised your interest about the possibilities of using games in an educational context, the good people of the State Library of Victoria are offering a chance to find out what gaming is all about at an evening of interactive play and mini-tournaments. Discover a range of video games and consoles, and meet game experts from Dissecta. It will be held on Tuesday 7 April (school holidays so no worries about going out on a school night) from 6-7.30pm at the State Library, in Experimedia. The session is free, but bookings are required. Please click this link to book in.

Hope to see you there!

Stephen Heppell @SLV

For the final post about Professor Stephen Heppell’s inspiring talk at the State Library of Victoria on 10th November, Stephen mentioned some innovative things some schools are doing in the UK.

A primary school in East Kilbride (Glasgow) let their students use the ‘Big Brain Academy’ game on Nintendo DS handheld consoles for twenty minutes each morning. Performance in all areas of schooling has lifted since the introduction of the game. The culture of the school has changed, being ‘brainy’ is now cool.

Numerous secondary schools in the UK are closing their staffrooms and reopening them as cafes shared with students. The basic philosophy is that everyone at school is a learner (including teachers) and should share ideas and spaces.

Leasowes School has trialled a month long timetable of each subject and exam results have improved.

Just a few examples of how Stephen explains that schools need to ‘run, not follow’.

21st Century learning

Continuing on with Professor Stephen Heppell’s talk on 21st Century learning at the State Library of Victoria on Monday 10th November, Stephen outlined the 21st Century as ‘people centric’ where ‘helping people help each other’ is leading to the mass social construction of knowledge. People adding entries and editing Wikipedia, creating content in LibraryThing, YouTube, Flickr and the like (my examples) means that we (and our students) ‘are in a world we haven’t met before’. Stephen says ‘it’s time for schools to run, not follow’.

A recent UK survey by Ipsos asked students how they were currently learning in school. The responses were something like:

  1. Copying from books or the whiteboard (approximately 50% of respondents).
  2. Taking notes from a long teacher talk (approximately 30% of respondents).
  3. Copying from the Internet (approximately 20% of respondents).

When asked how they would like to learn, the responses were:

  1. Learning in groups.
  2. Learn by doing practical things.
  3. Learning with friends.
  4. Learn by using a computer.

When asked what they would like their teachers to be able to do, they responded:

  1. Edit a Wikipedia entry.
  2. Upload a video to YouTube and make a comment.
  3. Subscribe to a podcast.
  4. Manage groups in Flickr (and be able to spell Flickr).
  5. Select a safe online payment site.
  6. Turn mobile phone predictive text on/off.

Certainly food for thought, not only for teachers but also for school administrators. For a recording of Stephen’s session with Victoria’s Department of Education and Early Childhood Development’s Knowledge Bank, click here.

To read more about what Stephen has been involved in, his thoughts and projects, please follow these links:

Teachers TV

Internationally renowned educator Professor Stephen Heppell presented an enlightening lecture at the State Library of Victoria on the evening of Monday 10th November.  The topic of 21st Century learning and how we as educators address and change not only our practice, but mindset, is just one of the things that consumes Stephen.

One tool that Stephen discussed was Teachers TV (not to be confused with TeacherTube). UK in origin, it provides thousands of educational programmes on television and the Internet. Many of the programmes available are made by teachers for other teachers; they discuss new ideas that have worked well in their classroom. Teachers TV provides a subject guide to programmes, recommended videos and more. You can keep up-to-date with RSS feeds and if you register, you can download programmes to view later on, comment on programmes and access sneak previews.

Thousands of education programmes on TV and online

Thousands of education programmes on TV and online

Teachers TV is highly recommended as a free, reliable and credible source of educational videos freely available through the Internet. Teachers TV also provides links to educational websites that may be of interest.

More on Stephen Heppell soon.