The Game Based Learning Conference, held March 19-20 in London, is one of the largest events in the world that delves into all aspects of utilizing video games as a learning tool.
The main theme of Game Based Learning '09, a conference primarily focused on game based learning research and development in the U.K. and Europe, was on the impact that video games, virtual worlds and social networking are having on learning and teaching practice both in and out of formal education environments.
The other thing worth noting about this conference is the remarkable degree of cross-discipline collaboration between members of the digital media, parents, education, consumer electronics, virtual worlds and video game communities.
At the conference, Dr. Maja Pivec, one of the co-founders of ENGAGE (European Network for Growing Activity in Game-based learning in Education), shared an in-depth look at the latest research and trends in Game-based learning. Dr. Pivec has put together a really good presentation and I encourage you to take a look at all the terrific research she shared at the conference.
Given that American companies like Disney, Nickelodeon, and Microsoft/Xbox are among the leading producers of kids gaming and virtual worlds, it seems only natural that there should be a similar US-based effort to connect the dots between games and learning.
So here's my question: why aren't we holding a similar conference where we can collaborate, share research and explore game based learning?
This is not to say that US-based companies involved in the kid new media space aren't doing research. In fact, Microsoft recently announced that they would invest $1.5 million dollars in educational video game research. The investment is part of a larger, NYU led initiative to "to find scientific evidence that supports the use of games as a learning tool."
All of this comes on the heels of a report by the Pew Internet and American Life Project that found that, when it comes to video games, "playing is universal, with almost all teens playing games and at least half playing games on a given day."
It's vital that all of us involved intersection of kids, new media and education work together to develop pedagocially sound opportunities to incorporate gaming, social networking, and virtual worlds--tools and spaces that students are already using--into their formal and informal learning practice.