Blast to the Past and Looking Forward

What a full day of engagement with people, ideas, and learning here at the EDUCAUSE Annual ELI 2013 Conference!  I attended the Horizon Report 2013 Higher Education Horizon Report 2013Report session this evening! This report identifies key emerging technologies in higher education and when we are likely to see them in mainstream practice.  Gaming and Gamification is listed as one of six technologies to watch with anticipated wide spread adoption likely in two to three years.

Gamification aims to incorporate elements of games, such as levels and badges (via quests) into non-game activities.  PartPlay embraces game theory and game elements in the course design; players accumulate points as they complete various learning quests and affords players choice in what kind of assignments they want to undertake.

I want to give a BIG shout out to the folks in the Division of Teaching and Learning Technologies.  Jim Groom and Martha Burtis and others for their innovative work with ds106 and the Tim Owens work with 3D printing and the Think Lab. ThinkLabBoth are featured in this prestigious report!  Not one but two initiatives at UMW!  Awesome!!!!

One theme that keeps coming up in all of the sessions I have attended is the need for students to develop collaboration skills and own their learning. And yet dominant faculty centered instruction looms large in many classroomes. One challenge remains to help faculty/students realize that taking time to develop these capacities isn’t fluff and opportunities to develop these capacities need to be given the same time and care as course content.

I had a wonderful ‘blast to the past’ when one of my professors, Vince Tinto,Vince Tinto from Syracuse University delivered the keynote address.  What I was reminded of during his talk was his engaging manner and true respect he holds for student learning, not only when I was a student in his class, but also as an advocate for institutions to carefully, strategically, and purposefully act to support students in their learning.  It felt like coming home to the ideas and passions that influenced my own development and thinking about how I approach my own work with faculty at the Center for Teaching Excellence and Innovation at UMW. Students’ voices matter as was clearly evident in his presentation!

I told my students in PartPlay that I would engage in gamification by gathering badges. What I have learned so far – don’t make it so hard to play the game!  More on that later….