In previous posts I wrote about my experiences attending the daily Virtually Viral Hangouts hosted by the Media Education Lab at University of Rhode Island over a 13 week period. Following this experience, I was fortunate to be invited to serve on a panel of participants who would discussing their experience during a session at the Media Ecology Associating convention that took place online.

The theme of the convention was Communication Choices and Challenges. The Saturday sessions I was involved with fit in with the theme as we were going to be speaking about the unique experiences we were able to create in the online space.

Since I was already registered to attend, I thought I would take advantage of the opportunity to explore the great sessions that were being offered. As a Library Media Specialist I found many learning opportunities to attend each hour. However, what I mostly chose to focus on was my interest in gameplay and how that is being put into practice by those in high education. I did also spend time in other sessions soaking in the wisdom of the multitude of speakers but for now I wish to focus on some of the great examples as they relate to gameplay and learning.

The humanities staff from Gulf Coast Florida State University presented: All Aboard the S.S. Eschatology: Gamifying the Large-Lecture Class for Critical Thinking and Intercultural Knowledge. During their sessions they explained in great detail how they used game mechanics to provide students an experiential learning experience that would provide for them a much broader understanding of the impact they have and action they take.  Miles Mancini emphasized what I already saw within the writing of  Jane McGonigals book Reality is Broken. The approach taken by this university is providing students a much richer learning experience than just reading facts in traditional text books. The role playing aspect of the learning keep students engaged and accountable for their action.

While attending New Narratives of Contemporary Imaging and finding Edgar Johnson’s presentation on The Day the Google Died: An Examination of the Impact of Virtualized Scenes on
the Development of Tabletop Role-Playing Game Communities so interesting, I decided to remain in tune with this presenter and attend another session he presented in Media Ecology in High Education titled: This History Never Happened: Development of Original Multi-Media, PseudoHistorical Simulations for the Advanced Public Speaking Classroom.

That session was exactly what I wanted to hear. This was a perfect example of  using gameplay to get out the best in students to something they must use in real life. Edgar shared some of the techniques he uses that are what entices gamers to enjoy the storytelling art of games. Edgar shared many aspects of the program he has been running for the past 8 years. This was now the third session I attend that focused on using gameplay to inspire students and achieve high results leading to long term behavioral change.

One of the keynote speakers of the convention was Maryanne Wolf who spoke about Deep Reading in a Digital Age. Although Maryanne did not speak about gameplay, she touched the heart of the matter. And that is the power of story. She was ale to enlighten me on things I knew but some key fact that I might have not been aware of. I was so moved by her presentation and was taking so many notes while listening intently. What I found so mesmerizing about Maryanne’s presentation was that she was addressing many questions that were running in my head. This weekend I started and completed her book Reader, Come Home The Reading Brain in A Digital World. I was so happy and sad to read this book. I guess I was so happy because someone was validating for me that all the years I was teaching and doing all the work with students to think critically about all that they are reading is the best way to develop our next generation. I was saddened to read all the facts about the issues I know exist  with regards to children and their lack of reading. However, I was even disheartened to  realize that already in 4th grade we can start to realize their future if they have not gained the foundations of reading.

I can go on about  many other amazing people I heard and sessions I attended at the MEA convention but for now I would just say that I can’ t wait to read another book by Marryannne Wolf and make the connecting to bring gameplay to many of the ideas bringing solutions to what w must have in deep reading.