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Games for Learning Summit @ Games for Change

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Written by: Celia Alicata, Director of Marketing & Communications

The fact that I can even write that as a title is pretty exciting in and of itself. Game-based learning has come so far in recent years, gaining prominence in the education marketplace and in educational access conversations. And now you see events like this one at the 12th Annual Games for Change Festival—spearheaded by the Office of Educational Technology at the US Department of Education.

Yet, most everyone agrees that the industry is still in its infancy. There remain many questions to be answered and proof points needed, especially to meet the high-bar expectations of school leaders and educators who face everything from rigorous standards, to tightening budgets, to high-stakes testing and accountability consequences. There’s no silver bullet to get games adopted in classrooms, but the industry can make a value-add pitch, and it’s got to be compelling. (Check out the US Dept. of Education’s Ed Tech Developer’s Guide for opportunities to impact our most pressing educational challenges.)

During the summit, Jesse Schell of Schell Games asked attendees to dream big and envision the role that learning games should play in education by 2025. A few things resonated:

  1. Marketplace: No one entity dominates the learning games marketplace right now. If we look to the music industry—and the ways that consumers are now in the driver’s seat through mechanisms like iTunes and Spotify—we can imagine what the marketplace could look like if educators controlled it and used their buying power to demand quality games.
  2. Impact and Effectiveness: How much proof will be enough to show the value of game-based learning? It’s the question our entire community must keep top of mind. We are also a new enough industry that we can start to define the impact in ways that can only be uniquely measured through games. That is, the learning games community can define the language of effectiveness. (Read about early findings from Classroom, Inc.’s latest learning game After the Storm.)
  3. Empowering Educators: Games do not replace the teacher. In fact, learning games have the potential to do the exact opposite. Imagine being able to look at a dashboard and watch students—in real time—make decisions and solve problems. The teacher could immediately pose specific challenges, directing them to different paths and activities. The opportunities, if designed right, are infinite.

So, our marching orders are clear: build the marketplace, prove effectiveness, and support educators. Game on!