7 TED Talks about gaming’s potential
Every educator needs some inspiration now and then, and these days, such inspiration can be found online in just a few seconds.
The internet brings inspiring and motivational speakers and experts to anyone with a connection and an internet-ready device.
TED Talks are some of today’s most popular examples of the internet’s power to expand learning opportunities to all.
Each month, we’ll bring you a handful of inspiring TED Talks. Some will focus specifically on education; others will highlight innovative practices that have long-lasting impact. But all will inspire and motivate educators and students alike.
Did you miss our most recent TED Talks features? You can find them here.
1. Gaming can make a better world
Games like World of Warcraft give players the means to save worlds, and incentive to learn the habits of heroes. What if we could harness this gamer power to solve real-world problems? Jane McGonigal says we can, and explains how.
2. Gaming to re-engage boys in learning
In her talk, Ali Carr-Chellman pinpoints three reasons boys are tuning out of school in droves, and lays out her bold plan to re-engage them: bringing their culture into the classroom, with new rules that let boys be boys, and video games that teach as well as entertain.
3. Your brain on video games
How do fast-paced video games affect the brain? Step into the lab with cognitive researcher Daphne Bavelier to hear surprising news about how video games, even action-packed shooter games, can help us learn, focus and, fascinatingly, multitask. (Filmed at TEDxCHUV.)
4. Massively multi-player...thumb wrestling?
What happens when you get an entire audience to stand up and connect with one another? Chaos, that's what. At least, that's what happened when Jane McGonigal tried to teach TED to play her favorite game. Then again, when the game is "massively multiplayer thumb-wrestling," what else would you expect?
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Today’s 5 biggest ed-tech conversations
A few years ago the education world found itself entranced by the iPad, a powerful tablet that promised to revolutionize one-to-one programs and revitalize teacher engagement with technology in the wake of sweeping mobile device adoptions. For years, the iPad seemed to dominate educators’' discussions. Now, that storm seems to have passed, as educators and ed-tech enthusiasts are broadening their horizons and looking to the future.
Last week, a group of educators from California and across the U.S. converged on a Napa Valley high school for the Fall CUE 2014 Conference, centered around a theme of next-generation learning.
Here are 5 takeaways from the sessions, tweets, and conversations that came up time and again during the conference, and which offer a revealing glimpse into the types of technology and interventions educators are turning to now.
1. Google is everywhere. Glancing at the conference schedule, observers might be forgiven for wondering whether Google is now the new Apple. Although that claim may be tenuous at best, given that Google, in one way or another, has always been a classroom mainstay, there were an uncanny number of sessions devoted to Chromebooks, Google Classroom, Apps for Education, and deep dives into niche tools (think Google Drawing or the social studies godsend, Google Tours). More than a few hours were devoted to picking apart every facet of Google Apps for every conceivable classroom environment. Simply put, a solid integration framework across a range of platforms seems to be pushing Google into more classrooms and onto more educators' lips than ever before.
2. But the iPad isn’t going anywhere. Given that, at last count, schools have invested more than $400 million getting iPads into student hands, it would be rash to expect them to drop of the radar so precipitously. Now that the initial gold rush has died down, educators are looking at more intentional uses. Some speakers hailed from districts with renowned iPad success stories and were eager to share their stories; others promoted sessions that went “beyond giving you a shopping list” for apps. These days, educators appear likely to embrace the iPad’s strengths, accept its weaknesses, and engage in thoughtful discussions on finances and the merits of sharing devices.
3. Games have arrived—-in a big way. Gaming and gamification have bubbled just under the ed-tech surface for years, even cropping up on the New Media Consortium’s trendsetting Horizon Report from time to time. The snowball growth of Minecraft in the classroom, however, may finally be helping to tip the scales. While Minecraft was on many educators’ minds at the conference, attendees also listened raptly to a teacher speaking in a large auditorium who described infusing her middle-school classroom with “XP” and level-ups—-terms closely associated with role playing games. Indeed, GameDesk’s Lucien Vattel, a conference keynote speaker, built his talk around the benefits of experiential learning, the brain science behind fun and lasting memories, and gaming's facility for teaching difficult concepts to students while removing what he called the “fear of failure.”
Leading the Digital Leap
Despite the fact that technology use is part of daily life, on balance, schools’ use of technology remains far from ubiquitous. There is no question that some teachers, principals, and district leaders have made considerable progress in using technology to transform learning. And there are strong examples of school districts that are leading digital change system-wide. However, there exists a major challenge: Few school systems have found a way to create a sustainable, digitally-enabled ecosystem.
The irony is real: Some school systems have not yet realized the promise of technology, for reasons that are varied and complex. Many schools and classrooms lack robust technology infrastructure due to affordability and adequate funding barriers, as identified in CoSN and AASA’s new national E-rate and infrastructure survey. Other factors include district cultures where there is apprehension and often aversion to changes that occur through technology, or a history of past tech investments that were not well-aligned to district needs. While in other cases, districts’ inability to experience an effective digital transformation rests with a lack of human capacity and communication, from vision setting to technical implementation.
District administrators and school board members, though, have an opportunity today to surmount these barriers. To empower K-12 system leaders to make or advance their digital leap, we at AASA, CoSN, and NSBA have formed a powerful partnership. This partnership, which brings together the leading professional organizations for superintendents, district technology leaders, and school boards nationwide, lends our knowledge, resources, and networks to help school system leaders strengthen their ability to lead the digital leap.
You might reasonably ask, “What is the ‘digital leap?’” Your district may, after all, already have a technology foundation in place. The digital leap is more than just providing computers in a classroom or the central library
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