Category Archives: United Kingdom

Gamebased Learning 2009

From the group that has organized some very successful Handheld Learning Conferences comes:

Game Based Learning, 19-20 March, The Brewery, Barbican, London

Video Games, Social Media and Learning.

Fun, Stimulating & Provocative

And that’s just the first afternoon…

Dear Colleague

This years Game Based Learning Conference has captured the imagination.

Demand for delegate places has been greater than expected leaving less than 100 places available from our initial allocation.

Perhaps this is because the event is unique. It brings together thought leaders, innovators and practitioners from the worlds of education, software and consumer electronics into a continuous dialogue about the impact of video games and social media on the quality of learning and teaching practice across school, higher education, public and business sectors.

With leading industry figures such as British Academy Fellowship Award winning, Nolan Bushnell, Ian Livingstone and Patrice Chazerand going head to head with leading educational innovators including Derek Robertson, Alice Taylor and Graeme Duncan, the stage is set for an inspiring and thought provoking 2 days opened by UK Cabinet Office Minister, Tom Watson.

For confirmed speakers click here

To review the programme click here

To register, receive a free game and save £50 click here

Read acclaimed educational technology writer Merlin John

It’s your conference, get involved!

The programme has been developed to offer something for every delegate as well as providing essential opportunities for discussion, networking and socialising.

Do you want to present something?

Then the unconference / Pecha Kucha session hosted by Dave Green of the London Games Fringe is for you. Everybody is welcome to present their ideas, work or experiences.

Got skills? Looking for skills?

Try the informal “business speed dating” that takes place during the breaks and networking sessions. Should you wish to erect a pop-up display, distribute flyers or connect with delegates in other ways this can be arranged by contacting our sales manager, Isabel Fernandes.

Interested in real world, best practice?

Look no further than the Game Based Learning in Practice session hosted by Derek Robertson, National Adviser for Emerging Technologies and Learning, LTS who will introduce leading initiatives by practitioners including Kim Applin, Steve Bunce and Dawn Hallybone.

How does industry respond to this emerging phenomenon?

If this is the question on your mind then the Industry Forum is the place to be. With participants including ISFE Secretary General, Patrice Chazerand, ELSPA Managing Director, Michael Rawlinson, ISFE Games and Education Liaison, Catherine Geeroms, Slitherine Director, Marco Minoli, Codemasters Chairman, Chris Deering and representatives from Becta, this session promises to be electric.

All this followed by an evening social reception with the keynote conference sessions the next day!

Do not miss this opportunity to be a part of this years Game Based Learning Conference. Register today.

See you there!

The Game Based Learning 2009 Team (meet us)
The Advisory Group (meet us)

Passes are available for members of the press & media

Linked GBL Group join our group on Linkedin

facebook event page join our event page on facebook

Handheld Learning 2008 Proceedings and Events for 2009

One more from the folks at Handheld Learning:

Online Proceedings now ready!

Dear Colleague
This years Handheld Learning Conference was the biggest and most successful yet with more than 1,700 attendees, 1,000 conference delegates and 600 attendees at the Handheld Learning Awards.

Handheld Learning 2009
We sincerely hope that you’ll consider participating next year when we reconvene for Handheld Learning 2009 and return to The Brewery, London from Oct 5th – 7th.

This years event sold out very quickly and we already have many surprises in store for Handheld Learning 2009 so please guarantee your place by pre-registering here. Pre-registration is free and you will be the first to know when we open registration and call for papers.

Game Based Learning 2009 


For those delegates who have a deeper interest in the game based learning themes presented at this years Handheld Learning we have a special one day international symposium on March 20th, 2009 called Game Based Learning 2009 that will also be held at The Brewery. Our keynote speakers and call for papers will be made shortly but spaces will be limited so please register your interest here.
Thank you once again and we look forward to seeing you soon!
All the best,

The Handheld Learning Team (meet us)
The Advisory Group (
meet us)

We have reworked the conference website as a free to access online resource of digital proceedings. Here you will now find video recordings of the main room sessions and keynotes, a huge gallery of photographs, presentation slides, papers along with links to delegate discussions and reflections about the event that are ongoing. You will find everything under the Conference menu. To visit click here.
Naturally we welcome your continued participation in the event and if you’re not already a member of the Handheld Learning Community we invite you to register here and share your thoughts and reflections with the rest of the membership.


Handheld Learning, Day 3, Lord David Putnam

This was the closing keynote of the conference. I really didn’t take a lot of notes because I knew somebody was streaming the talk to the web and I was too tired to take a lot of notes. A few good snippets though:

Europe and US suffer from student disengagement, resulting in physical and emotional truancy.

Digital technology: collaborative, networked, and embedded in communities.

Ability to contribute to and change the learning environment is key to learning.

Right now we are losing! Kids need to be engaged, not just in learning, but also in learning/tech design development. Their concerns need to be heard and considered. We also need to find out what kids do when they are not in school and how that can be used to enhance education.

The future is a race between education and catastrophe.

There is more work to be done on assessment, not on the curriculum. Throwing away the curriculum is like a person without a spine. You can’t walk without it…

Handheld Learning, Day 3, Research Strand

 An overview of the research strand I moderated this morning. We saw and heard about a lot of interesting and innovative projects related to mobile learning.

Mobile Matters

Mark Kramer, Vienna, Austria
Mobile learning foresight: Examining learning now and in the near future.

This presentation mostly focused on the idea that when we look at technology and education, we need to look at broad impacts, and look for example at health and/or social impacts. With regards to learning, technologies allow us to be discursive, flexible, ubiquitous, convenient, everywhere, and adaptive.

Adele Botha, Meraka Institute, South Africa,
Digital literacy for 21st century digital learners

Adele talked about the diversity of her country (including education), and how unrestricted access to technology and information are creating new opportunities but also responsibilities. She sees students who are proficient with technology but tend to be naive. In addition, adults are buying into rules that teenagers make with regards to new technology use. Now more than before, the more virtual you get, the more teens are interacting with and through technology.

The message of this presentation really is that we need to teach kids how to survive in the virtual world [I think this is true anywhere]. Adele compared being in the virtual world to traveling to a different country, and teaching to a guide, not a police officer or immigration official. In both, there are places to go, things to see and do, local customs (think netiquette), what can you take, exchange rates and money, and things to look out for.

Sometimes the two worlds overlap and you get cultural developments, which she dubbed the Silent Revolution, with examples such as the “please call me” culture, the umbrella lady, the mobile tree, and the use of multiple phones and sim cards.

David Cameron, Charles Sturt University, Australia,
Handheld media in the classroom: Transforming practice through drama

A session devoted to the use of drama as a vehicle to engage students in discussions about mobile use (e.g. mobiquette and cyber bullying). David showed a couple of examples, including Mantle of the Expert (simulations, scenarios, what-if situations, with a comparison of drama to video games); an archaeology training unit; and a set-up on Bebo that can be used as a scenario to talk about appropriate use of phones and SMS

The focus here was on engaging students in discussions about technology using technology.


Designing Learning Experiences

Yishay Mor, London Knowledge Lab,
Planet: bringing learning design knowledge to the forefront

Three observations:

1. Acceleration of change
2. Design divide: in design knowledge (need to find ways to share)
3. The void between prophet (too high) and explorer (too low) presentations

Yishay argued for the need to return to design science (Simon, 1969). A detailed description of what design science is and how the Planet project uses stories to create design patterns for problem solving can be found in the presentation slides.

Cathy Lewin, Research Fellow at Manchester Metropolitan University
Transforming pedagogical practices with digital learning companions

Cathy Lewin discussed a mobile project at Holywell High School (Wales), an example of a project that puts more technology in schools to enable teachers to do more. The positives here are the headteacher’s vision that the desktop model is not the right one and that there is a need to design effective learning environments, and the involvement of students in choosing the device to be used (Asus eee PC). The project has just started so there were no real results to report, other than the usual list of challenges.

Rhodri Thomas & Keren Mills, Mobile Learner Support, Open University
Mobile Digiquest: Developing rich media reflective practitioners

A presentation that described the digital initiatives at the Open University’s Digilab with rich media on mobile devices and associated professional development, both f2f and online (blended). The presenters stressed the impotance of mobile collaboration tools.

Carl Smith, Developer, Reusable Learning Objects CETL at London Metropolitan University,
Engineering suitable content for context sensitive education and vocational training (CONTSENS)

An overview of projects that allow users to do real research with mobile technology and control data (scroll, zoom, decompose), to let users do stuff, not just look at data on a device. Carl showed lots of cool examples of what is possible today given the increases in scanning, mapping, and capturing our world; reconstructing the world; pattern recognition; and object embedding.

Teaching and Learning

Megan Smith, Leeds Metropolitan University
Our City, Our Music: using mScapes to map new narratives

mScapes is the use of audio/video/text combined with GPS to create and consume content. Our City, Our Music is an initiative that will yield a location-based music album by June 2009. Other successful examples include adventure games, historical guides, and walking tours. Current technology has its limitations; content needs to be preloaded, and the platform is not designed for interactions between multiple devices. Future technology to be added includes RFID, bluetooth, and infra-red.

Suzaan Le Roux, Cape Peninsula University, South Africa,
Implications of utilising mobile handheld devices in teaching undergraduate programming learners in a developing country

According to the abstract:

This research chronicles the results of the investigation into the integration and use of mobile handheld devices as teaching tools in an undergraduate computer programming subject at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology in South Africa.  This research also explores the wide reaching implications of utilising mobile handheld devices and the possible advantageous alternatives it can provide to traditional classroom-based instruction in teaching predominantly previously disadvantaged computer programming learners in a developing country.  The relevance of mobile handheld devices in teaching programming, its perceived benefits and the potential barriers to its use are discussed.

In this study the experimental group consisted of 55 programming learners who have been provided with personal digital assistants (PDAs) preloaded with the Basic4PPC application for use at university and home.  This enabled and encouraged learners to design and develop mobile applications in the Visual Basic programming language anytime, anywhere without the necessity of a computer.  Learners reported their experiences through interviews and a survey.

The study found that students want access, and that mobile devices enable access, mobility, and the opportunity to learn at your own pace. Issues included screen size, fragility of devices, stylus input, and the perception that the mobile was not a phone. There was some novelty effect, and long-term research is needed to validate current findings.

Jane Lunsford, Researcher and Lead Instructional Designer, Open University
Mobile media and devices to support students at the UKOU

Didn’t get any notes here. From the abstract:

The talk will consider two research projects designed to investigate how the support provided to around 200,000 students at The Open University (UKOU) might be improved and extended with the use of mobile media and devices, to suit a diversity of study needs.  It will then show how these research projects have led to enhancements in the support offered by Student Services.

Susan Jacobson, PhD, Temple University, USA,
Exploring the expressive qualities of the mobile phone in journalism education

Interesting talk about changes in journalism in the US, a class in experimental journalism at Temple, and how mobiles can play a part in news coverage. The examples provided here included the coverage of elections using an election day moblog, combining the use of utterli and a livejournal blog.

Mobiles are being used by journalism students for traditional news stories, live interviews, prerecorded sound bites, and personal reflections (esp. the latter tends to happen more).

Tools experimented with include a standard blog, google maps, a custom db; and now Ning, which seems to work.  

Handheld Learning, Day 2, Emerging Technologies Session


Here’s a brief description of the presentations in this afternoon’s Emerging Technology session at Handheld Learning 2008 that I participated in.

Richard Crook: Praise Pod
Child Mental Health Specialist: NHS Rotherham

This presentation was about promoting a culture of praise for a 21st century learning community. Seems somewhat familiar to Character Counts in the US. It’s about ICT connecting communities, including parents, local businesses, faith groups, and community organizations. It works by sending families videos of kids doing something good at school, or they can be played on whiteboards in class, etc. Richard showed some nice video examples of how this actually works.

Tony Vincent: For Kids, By Kids: Valuable Tips for Podcasting with Students

Tony’s stuff originated with Willowdale’s Radio WillowWeb in Omaha, Nebraska. The key to podcasting is that the audio/video is a series of files automatically cataloged on the web and downloadable (by subscription).

Podcasts are pretty professional, kids seem to enjoy it. Tony had us listen to a couple of examples of audio podcasts, including Radio WillowWeb and Our City Podcast.

Four phases of podcasting: Pre-production, creation, post-production, publication.

You always need to think about copyright and privacy.

Resources: Slogan4u (slogans), (the YouTube of sound effects)

My presentation on the GeoHistorian project

Link to video (as soon as I post it…)

Lilian Soon: Xlearn project (gadgets empowering students with disabilities) with awesome ppt slides!

Using PDAs for taking pictures and video, and interviewing each other. Advantages: convergence of digital capabilities in one device. Kids learn quickly so they can help each other.

Hull College uses mobiles in combination with headcams, to do stuff with electrical engineering (handsfree technology!).

Joseph Priestley College: use of RedHalo to collect evidence and then create mindmaps to link the evidence together. Also using PSPs for deaf learners to make and watch signing videos.

Mobile phones and QR codes for simple quizzes and flash cards, and as a media player. Also using the calendar and notes functions and Bluetooth exchange of files.

Oaklands College: Students are also using phones for blogging (voice, video, pictures).

Use of Wii and DS: pictures and video on SD card (Wii), health and safety exercises, puzzle function, making a Mii. Use of cut and paste function on DS. Use of PictoChat on DS.

Use a flash card to play video, mp3, pictures (like a hack for the DS).

URLs: http://tinyurl/hhlxlearn

Jacquelyn Ford Morie (USC Institute for Creative Technology): Case-Based Learning with Critical Thinking Skills on Mobile Devices

Training for US military: flexible operating environments and not enough time for training create a need for embedded 24/7 training independent of human instructors, mobile devices, etc.

Use of mobile devices: can maximize  “lost moments” for training, besides the 24/7 mobile access.

AXL Net: Army Excellence in Leadership:

  • Web-based training system
  • Case-based methodology
  • Designed to develop critical thinking and analysis skills

The FORCE: one-click downloads to mobile platform (iPod). Video/text combination (looks like a conditional branching type of set-up).

Paul Quinn: Using the PSP for athletes

Harefield Academy in London for Watford FC “scholars”, elite gymnasts, table tennis players, swimmers…

Use of PSP (10 in pilot, about 30-40 kids have them too). Use of camera for Sports Video Project (are also using for assessment on the PSP). Students can video tape themselves, do frame by frame analysis (immediately), and get lesson information (ppt jpegs).

Mobiles are interfaced with desktops and network for further work on videos etc.

Other resource:

Sally Drummond: New Practices in Flexible Learning

Australian Turning Point Project (mobile film making):

Digital Mini Film Fest for Youth: one minute films shot on mobile phones, displayed on iHubs (kiosks with touch screens and Bluetooth) on the streets of Melbourne (sharing via Bluetooth).

Initial tech and interaction research done on minimum tech requirements as well as use of Bluetooth.

John Traxler: mLearn 2008 look-back

Background: mLearn, IADIS, WMTE conferences, IJMBL journal, and IAmLearn association.

Theory: does our work extend or enhance existing theories of learning or e-learning? Does our work tell anything general or transferable?

Evidence: can we demonstrate something transferable and trustworthy? Are we looking for proof-of-concept, outcomes, or scale and sustainability? How do we evaluate and disseminate? There is a gap between the smaller projects and what large funders (i.e. government) would like to see. We have more technologies and systems and more case studies.

Technology: rapidity, diversity, power. How do we cope with this? What’s the bigger picture? (Mike Short). Social impact of longer-term predictions (Mark Prensky).

mLearn 2009: Florida

mLearn 2010: Malta

Image Credit: My camera

Handheld Learning, Day 2, Laurie O’Donnell

Streaming video files are here and here

Putting philosophy into practice (speech was more of a discussion than a presentation)

Philosophy A v. B

Interesting example of what success in education means: Finland: how safe do you feel on the streets, how healthy are your people, longevity, how many people do you send to jail? It goes way beyond improving test scores or training productive workers. You want citizens, community activists, good parents….

Technology is a catalyst for change, it does NOT drive change. People make changes to make the world better.

How do you pay for scalability and sustainability?

Question on assessment: Assessment person who answered -> we need to provide learners the environment to learn, we can’t just teach them to learn. Assessment bodies are fairly powerless when it comes to developing assessments as they mainly apply the policy that comes from higher up.

  • Implementation with a little help from
  • Politicians (committed to long-term development)
  • Civil servants (who see the big picture and can manage risk)
  • Secure funding (not based on projects)
  • Great people who are doing the right things for the right reasons
  • Resilience
  • Hard work and a whole lotta luck

And of course students …

Image Credit: My camera

Handheld Learning 2008, Day 2, danah boyd

Presentation streamed to qik

Learning in a networked world: we see

1. new technology as the devil incarnate
2. new technology as a panacea

Reality is much more nuanced. Why should we use technology in the classroom and run the risk of failure? Education is about teaching young children to think, but sometimes we get lazy because of standards and testing [true?? Not sure I completely agree here. I think sometimes teachers’ hands are tied].

New technologies are not good or bad on their own, but how they are being used [but technology is not neutral!!]. We need to figure out how to incorporate it effectively into the educational system.

Technology is fundamentally rupturing many aspects of everyday life: networking. It is part of everyday life (a la Wade Roush)

Educators have two immediate responsibilities:

1. know what technologies are out there, who uses them, how they are being used, esp. unexpected uses.
2. teach  how to use technology to understand the world around us. Need to understand how technology is rupturing our lives as we know them.

Learn from young people about the technology.

Social network sites: place where people go online to participate in their social network online (v. social networking = f2f).
1. profile (i.e. a decorated IP address, a digital being online. Putting forth your best foot, and thinking about your audience. Writing profile for yourself and your friends. Originates in bedroom culture: decorate your room to show off who you are).
2. Friends: three clusters: 30-40 friends; couple 100 people (broader peer group); collectors (as many as possible -> mostly adults). Friends are a person’s audience. Friending is socially awkward.
3. Comments/wall/testimonials: space of conversation in complement to other communication tools. Need to look at it as a form of public social rooming, not as just text. It’s social upkeep.

Vast majority of time spent is completely social, keeping up relationships, having fun. Place to hang out online, esp. when considering kids are often constrained to home (parent restrictions, overscheduling kids, a la USA Today article).

Properties and dynamics of sites need to be understood to see if they are appropriate for use, as well as work with kids as to whether they should be using these sites:

1. Persistence: digital trace. What you put online stays there. You have to deal with this.
2. Replicability: making something private public; can lead to cyber bullying (are you dealing with an original or an altered copy? What are complications, repercussions)
3. Scalability: potential for … Avg. blog is read by 6 people. Unexpected scalability and visibility.
4. Searchability: young people are searchable by the people who hold power over them.

Dynamics of four properties:

  • Invisible audiences and how you deal with this.
  • Collapsed contexts of time and space online
  • Convergence of public and private (public is what parents control, private is what youth controls).
  • How are public and private being decoupled from space and time

Importance to teach kids this stuff. Kids learn the coping strategies and social techniques. Adults should help guide this learning process.

Need to understand the properties of the technologies, what they do, and what the implications are of putting them in a classroom situation. You could rupture all sorts of social structures.

Some tools are easier to implement than others (e.g. Ning).

All the social networking stuff is starting to go mobile. Within two years they should all be mobile (like search went mobile): result: more social technology.

What are the mobile properties we care about. They have all of the social media properties with an added notion of (de)locatability. You can be anywhere and be connected (as opposed to having to be in front of a computer). So how do you educate for that?

Learning outside of the classroom (access to info anywhere).

E.g. Wikipedia: most transparent information available (discussion and history). Good teaching tool because you can’t take information for granted. Wikipedia can be used as a tool to show how information is created, what the biases are.

Need to teach a literacy of the world, teach about the structures around us and how to think critically. Goes beyond traditional and media literacy.

Image Credit: My camera