Happy New Year!

Well it’s another year over, and a new one just begun. Time for resolutions (blog more regularly, exercise more, eat less cake) and reflections. I thought that I’d start the new year with some thoughts about the five most memorable things that I’ve learned in 2013.

  1. LARP (live action role play) does not (necessarily) involve sweaty teenagers, with multi-sided dice, pretending to be goblins. Actually, it sounds a lot more active and fun than that, focusing on play and moving beyond reality to experience new things. If you can get beyond the stigma behind the words ‘role playing’ (at least in the UK) this has amazing potential for learning (see my previous post for some great references).
  2. Being an online student is hard. Really hard. Just over a year ago I enrolled in Edinburgh Napier’s fully online Blended and Online Education course (one of the longest running and well-thought of courses in the area), mainly because I was asking the rest of the course team to do it so I thought it was only fair. Also, I’ve got years of experience in the area, so it’s going to be a breeze, right? Sadly no, it’s been a bit of a slog, because they seem to expect me to do things, and read things, and think about things, and complete assignments, and make stuff, and discuss stuff, and so on. Brilliant experience though, and it’s fully recommend it to anyone interested in teaching online, even if only to experience the loneliness of the long distance student.
  3. FOTE (Future Of Technology in Education) is the conference to be seen at. I spoke at it last year, and it really has an amazing buzz, with people interacting on and off-line, tweeting throughout. The immediate feedback from a talk is amazing, as well as the ability to discuss a talk while it’s going on.
  4. Other people are great. Yes, it probably shouldn’t have taken me forty years to come to this conclusion, but collaborating in groups such as the ALT Games and Learning SIG, the Games and Learning for Older Adults partnership project (we talk more than we blog) and with colleagues at conferences such as ECGBL has really made my year. In general, game-based learning people seem to be really fun and creative, but then with a common passion for play perhaps that isn’t surprising.
  5. It’s surprisingly easy to create location-based games. I recently discovered the magic of ARIS, a free online tool, for building virtual treasure hunts, adventures, or data collection activities (sadly limited to iOS). We recently ran a session with a group of undergrad geography teachers, and I’ve never seen a group of students move so quick, or so much enthusiasm for running round a soggy campus. Definitely my ‘one to play with’ for 2013.

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