The SEGAN Network

ANDAMIO is now part of the SEGAN Serious Games Network (play around with the letters of the title on the website) and is working with a group of other organisations around the subject of serious games.
Serious Games are specifically designed to change behaviors and impart knowledge and are widely used in training situations, such as emergency preparedness, training for leadership and even citizenship. Learning Games (also a type of Serious Games) are also increasingly explored at all levels of education in a range of different subjects. These games have wide acceptance due to their challenging design and for the social interactions they generate. Research has showed that games also develop mental abilities and skills such as strategic thinking and decision making. They also promote digital competence and other key transversal competences for life and employability.
In the scope of the LLP programme and the preceding programmes, there have been several projects addressing this issue with good results. On the ADAM, EVE and EST portals there are about 65 projects that used games as learning tools. It seems an appropriate moment to try and provide a framework for the European approaches to Serious Games, combining theory, research and practice in a way that promotes Europe as a leader in this field.
The aim of the SEGAN Network is to address this issue by bringing together coordinators of those projects to promote the emergence of a Community of Practice around this subject. The main initial objective is to create a stable consortium to exchange ideas and experiences related to Serious Games. The network will be supported by virtual tools and face to face events, in order to increase the visibility and awareness of the benefits and impacts of Serious Games for learning, and contribute to their uptake and efficient use.
Please get in touch if you are interested. We are currently holding regular webinars on the subject, and there are other activities announced regularly on the site.

The empty page

Twenty million things to do*, and the blank page stretches out like a prairie. For a long time I opted for silence, and, in the end, found myself twittering comments in the blogs of others – sputtering, Catherine-wheel conversations. Now, when I have finally decided to sit down, my collection of weathered posts and sagebrush ideas,  so carefully saved,  seems like no more  a well-worn path, the grass trampled and muddy…

Enough… today I read this article at First Monday “Education and the Social Web: Connective learning and the commercial imperative” by Norm Friesen. It raises important questions about the educational use of the most popular social networking tools, such as Facebook, Twitter, or digg. Not just the old chestnuts about privacy (all our data etc.) but more about the way the informational design of these sites, which has commercial objectives, militates against learning, because it aims to reduce division, and eliminate conflict. Learning as process requires debate, and disssonance. Mere connections,  Friesen suggests, are insufficient and perhaps, as an objective, even misleading.

Friesen ends:

“The advertising, tracking and analysis functions of commercial social media present, as Raymond Williams says, “a formula of communication, an intrinsic setting of priorities”. The difference separating these priorities from those of education is clear in terms of the form of social networks, if not also in some aspects of its culture and content. It only remains to be seen whether this dynamic renders commercial social networking services as fully unsupportive of educational ends as commercial television has long been.”

Perhaps it was never possible to engage with the agendas of commercial TV in the classroom. A critical response to the agendas of Facebook and others is perhaps still possible, perhaps even a responsibility, of any educator.

(*with apologies to Lowell George)