Patricia Ianuzzi is a librarian from Las Vegas, and I enjoyed her keynote, which featured references to online gaming and to Las Vegas casinos!
She began by giving an overview of information literacy and reports in the US, which I found very useful. These are some of the references she gave:
The Spellings Commission on the Future of Higher Education
The 1998 Boyer Report, focusing on undergraduates and research
A book by Derek Bok called Our Underachieving Colleges
LEAP (Liberal Education and America’s Promise)
NSSE (National Survey of Student Engagement)
Project DEEP (Documenting Effective Educational Practices)
This opening section of the presentation was very useful, as it gave the wider context of the need to train students in information literacy skills, both for education and the workplace. Patricia went on to say that she didn’t care what terms we used, information literacy, digital literacy, or whatever, as long as we achieved the learning outcomes needed.
She then moved on to speaking about Marc Prensky’s essay, Engage me or enrage me, which is the source of the much quoted idea that young people are digital natives, who have grown up with computers and mobiles and video games, are comfortable and adept with digital media, and expect to be entertained, and older people are digital immigrants, who are not as digitally literate, and have different educational expectations. Although this concept obviously has some good points, in general the reality is a lot more complex than that, there are many older people who are amazingly digitally literate and lots of younger people who use digital technologies very little or without much expertise.
In an digression from the subject, I have to add that I started reading Prensky’s follow up essay, Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants, Part II and was horrified to find some of the ideas in it were based on ferrets having their brains rewired, poor things. I hope the ferrets take over the world and rewire the scientists’ brains, that’ll teach them.
Anyway, back to the keynote writeup. Despite not agreeing that all youngsters are computer whizz kids, and all oldies are digital dinosaurs, I do actually find all the research on making education entertaining very interesting. On the one hand, I think it’s important to remember that learning things in itself can actually be interesting for many people, I enjoy learning, and I don’t always need some interactive dancing rabbits to help me concentrate on reading a piece of text…however, on the other hand, I’m not a fan of boring people into stupors if it can possibly be avoided (or worse still, being bored into a stupor), and agree that making learning more interactive and fun can help keep people’s attention and interest.
That brings us neatly back to Patricia Ianuzzi who agreed with Prensky that students of today need engaging learning materials, and showed us a short video of three students talking about online gaming. Not only was the video interesting, but it made a nice break from talking and presentation slides, therefore neatly illustrating her point. We saw screen shots of the games, showing varied environments, innovative graphics, vast armies, aliens, visuals, explosions, and so on, and the students talked about game playing, and how often they played, and how they enjoyed playing competitively against other people.
At the end of the video, Patricia asked the audience what engaged the players, and the answers we gave included: immersion, interactivity, control, customization and visuals. She asked us, can we create learning resources which engage users using similar principles?
In Las Vegas, Patricia explained, casinos are drawing on video gaming to make their slot machines more engaging and enticing, with the key concept being PDI (player driven innovation). She showed images of game machines with embedded multimedia enhancements, and photos of interactive video game versions of popular casino games such as roulette and poker.
I found this keynote presentation interesting and engaging.
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