Game Impact: New Report on Field Cohesion

Thursday, May 21, 2015 Comment different ages of kids using phone and ipad to learn and play games

After more than a decade, the field of social impact games may be mature enough to step back and investigate how “impact” is understood. To start the conversation, Games for Change has released a new report, published by ETC Press. (The report was co-authored by myself, Nicole Walden, Gerad O’Shea, Francesco Nasso, Giancarlo Mariutto and Asi Burak.  Our advisory group included game scholars and designers like Tracy Fullerton, Debra Lieberman and Constance Steinkuehler.) Right now may be an inflexion point in the evolution of games in the public interest — from civic learning to fighting asthma.

Pollution Challenge! and Civic Learning with Video Games

Thursday, November 07, 2013 Comment 3 male students working at table together on ipads and work sheets

I can’t play video games. I forget this simple fact every couple of years and a dark cloud swoops over Casa Garcia and I am enveloped in the feverish button mashing of some complex simulation for a hazy month or two. I have the kind of personality where, once I’ve begun playing a game, I am consumed. In high school, around the time I should have been doing research on colleges, keeping up with homework, and diligently eyeing my GPA as an eager-to-get-into-my-preferred-university high school junior, I started playing the Sims. The sandbox-like nature of the

Understanding Education through Big Data

Friday, October 25, 2013 Comment close up of data code creating light tunnel

The seduction of ‘Big Data’ lies in its promise of greater knowledge. The large amounts of data created as a by-product of our digital interactions, and the increased computing capacity to analyse it offer the possibility of knowing more about ourselves and the world around us. It promises to make the world less mysterious and more predictable. This is not the first time that new technologies of data have changed our view of the world. In the nineteenth century, statistical ‘objective knowledge’ supplanted the personal knowledge of upper-class educated gentlemen as the main way in which

The Trouble with Testing

Monday, July 15, 2013 Comment female students hands filling out traditional scantron test

It’s obviously summer because my news alerts are no longer steadily reporting concerns about education, our children’s future, the problems with teachers, etc. Perhaps now, then, is the perfect time to address the issue of testing and its troubles, while a little distance might provide perspective. So, why do we test? What do we hope the tests will achieve? Last summer, Thomas Friedman suggested that parents and teachers view classroom performance as CEOs do economic performance to keep us competitive and to overcome our “education challenge.” In this light, testing helps us know where we stand

Why We Need Badges Now: A Bibliography of Resources in Historical Perspective

Friday, March 01, 2013 Comment poster of different badges icons explaining badges are visual representations of skill or achievement

It was something over a year ago when we first began talking about badges as a powerful new tool for identifying and validating the rich array of people’s skills, knowledge, accomplishments, and competencies that happens everywhere and at every age.  That’s when we decided that this year the Digital Media and Learning Competition would be dedicated to an array of competitions on badging.  I remember when we started writing, blogging, talking, speaking, and in other ways trying to create a conversation around badges as an alternative mode of assessment, people would look at me like I

Datafication: How the Lens of Data Changes How We See Ourselves

Monday, December 31, 2012 Comment image of never ending data numbers

Digital media allow us to produce, collect, organise and interpret more data about our lives than ever before. Our every digital interaction contributes to vast databases of information that index our behaviour from online movie choices to mapping networks of connections across Twitter. In an age of uncertainty, big data sets promise to provide an objective lens through which to understand the world, and both individuals and institutions like schools are turning to data to drive analysis and action. But what does this increasing datafication mean for how we understand the world, and how we understand

Assessment: Turning a Blunt Instrument Into a Powerful Learning Tool

Monday, November 26, 2012 Comment 3 students sitting together in library studying working on computer

It’s ironic that assessment in schools is most often “something adults do to students,” as Rick Stiggins puts it, because all humans are highly evolved for learning, and self-assessment is a powerful tool all learners use. Whether you are trying to master a recipe, solve an equation, improve your golf swing, you continually ask yourself questions such as “Have I learned to do what I need to do?” “What did I do wrong?” “How do I improve?” and, most importantly, “How did I learn that?” All, assessment. Wouldn’t it be great if schools didn’t turn a

What Constitutes ‘Rigour’ in Our 21st-Century Educational Systems?

Wednesday, September 26, 2012 Comment rows of empty green desks in gymnasium

Recently Michael Gove, the English Secretary of State for Education, announced the Government’s plans to “restore rigour and confidence to our examination system with the introduction of English Baccalaureate Certificates in English, maths, the sciences, history, geography and languages.” Modular assessment with the opportunity for student retakes is out, three-hour final examinations are back in. The number of top grades that are awarded will be limited. This approach is actually a toned-down version of Gove’s initial proposals which were leaked back in June. At the time both Prime Minister David Cameron and Deputy Prime Minister Nick

Standardizing Human Ability

Monday, July 30, 2012 Comment education sign on red brick wall

Here’s a thought experiment.  Let’s try to imagine a society (there were lots of them before modernity) where there is no interest in measuring educational success.  Let’s imagine a society where the only goal of teaching (it’s a high bar) is to help every child master what they need in order to lead the most fulfilling life they are capable of leading—productive, creative, responsible, contributing to their own well-being and that of their society.  No grades.  No tests.  Just an educational system based on helping each child to find her or his potential for leading the

Recommended Reads: On What Kids Can Learn, Minecraft, Generation Y

Thursday, May 17, 2012 Comment 4 students smiling holding up writing paperwork with edits marked on it

Common Sense Media, known as the go-to resource for solid reviews of movies, books, and television, just released a new ratings initiative to evaluate the learning potential of websites, video games, and mobile apps. You can learn more about it here. The Huffington Post published a useful overview and welcome to the ratings. They found value in how it shifts Common Sense Media towards “a more holistic view and analysis of media.” In addition, it provides both parents and educators a common language to use for talking about media and learning. “Their system, which is more