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Seminar: The Triple-A Classroom – Using Commercial Games in School

June 17 @ 10:00 am - June 18 @ 4:30 pm

Seminar topic:

We know everyone plays games, but what does it mean? And how do we equip students to critically think about the games they see and use in everyday life? Games are presently used in schools both at primary, secondary and high school level – and teachers employ games in class as gamification of learning situations, serious games designed for education, game development teaching, and as a general break from more traditional media. Yet there is little or no systemic focus on educating children and adolescents on how to engage critically with everyday commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) games in themselves as mediational resources. Games make a popular choice as learning resources, and have proven to support knowledge acquisition with the right pedagogical guidance, yet we need more knowledge on what methods we should apply to make the most of them. In this seminar, we will look beyond the question of whether we should use games in school (we should) and focus specifically on how we use COTS video games to 1) teach game literacy, in the sense of being able to critically understand and debate the meanings of games, and 2) employ COTS video games as mediational resources in learning situations on par with literature and film. The seminar aims to identify core challenges that lie ahead, and create a communication venue between academics and educational professionals who may possess different but mutually beneficial approaches to the topic. Starting off with a series of talks by renowned researchers, the seminar will move on to a panel of teachers, discussions in workshops, finally rounding the event off with a discussion involving both educational professionals and the attending audience, which will no doubt bring fresh insight on opportunities, sustainable strategies, and recommendations for future activities.

Seminar objective:

This is a 2-day event primarily for teachers who work with (or anyone interested in working with) everyday games in school and high schools, with a special focus on commercial games like Minecraft. The seminar (which is held as part of the ERC project Making Sense of Games) aims to create an open space of knowledge exchange in the area of game analysis and game-based teaching with commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) games, bringing together game scholars (researchers) and educational professionals (teachers). The event will present state of the art research, and participants will have the opportunity to contribute actively with real-life experiences and established practices. The seminar will be public and open for questions and comments to both researchers and educators.

List of Speakers:

Thorkild Hanghøj

Jonas Linderoth

Espen Aarseth

Roger Dale Jones

Erik Ottar Jensen

Tobias Staaby

Rikke Magnussen

Tore Neergaard Kjellow

Thomas Vigild

Preliminary Program:

DAY 1 – June 17th

10:00 – 10:30 Welcome and Coffee

10:30 – 11:00 Introduction Espen Aarseth: “Teach about Games, Don’t Gamify the Classroom”

11:00 – 12:00 Keynote: Jonas Linderoth: “Game based learning vs game based instruction: The problem with (and solution to) commercial off-the-shelf games in education”

12:00 – 12:40 Rikke Magnussen: “Games and collaboration between students and professionals”

12:40 – 13:40 Lunch Break

13:40 – 14:20 Roger Dale Jones: “Complexity, Disinterest and Intimacy: Video Game Discourse in the EFL Classroom”

14:20 – 15:00 Erik Ottar Jensen: “These numbers are a place! – Student development of mathematical concepts in games”

15:00 – 15:15 Coffee

15:15 – 15:55 Tobias Staaby: “Zombies in the classroom: On video games and dialogical teaching”

15:55 – 16:55 Keynote Thorkild Hanghøj: “Writing About Commercial Games in Danish as a School Subject”

16:55 – 17:00 Wrap-up

DAY 2 – June 18th

13:00 – 13:30 Tore Neergaard Kjellow: “Building competencies through games that are too hard: Why you should consider using games that your pupils don’t master (yet), and how to do it without crushing motivation”

13:30 – 14:00 Thomas Vigild: “Play it, don’t show it: How to use commercial board games for learning, self-development and saving the world”

14:00 – 14:15 Coffee

14:15 – 16:15 Plenary Discussion: Teaching about Games or Teaching with Games

Joint discussion with the audience on how to approach the topic of using games in school. How do we ensure that students have the necessary knowledge and understanding for engaging critically with video games? How can we teach critical game literacy skills? How do we motivate and prepare teachers for this task? Questions to…

16:15 – 16:30 Conclusions, Wrap-up

(Description and programme may be subject to change.)

About the keynote speakers:

Thorkild Hanghøj

PhD, Professor at the Department of Communication, Aalborg University

Thorkild Hanghøj is a leading Danish expert in the area of games and learning. He has a background in communication and learning design, and his research explores their practical implementations of games and game literacy. He was the head of the project School at Play (sætskolenispil.dk) from 2015-2017, which used digital games and game-based mechanics to strengthen social and technical inclusion in the Danish public school system. He is currently heading two projects. The first project is Game Journalism (spiljournalist.dk), which is about developing students’ multimodal literacies by producing game journalism and game guides. The second project is GBL21 (gbl21.aau.dk), which aims to develop students’ design competencies by designing and redesigning games in focusing on the subjects of Math, Science and Danish.

Jonas Linderoth

Ph.D., Professor of Education at University of Gothenburg, Sweeden, at the Linnaeus Centre for Research on Learning, Interaction and Mediated Communication in Contemporary Society (LinCS)

Jonas Linderoth holds a PhD in pedagogy since 2004. Since 2005 he has a permanent position as a senior lecturer at the department of education at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden and became a professor in 2014. His research interests concerns different aspects of digital games. He has previously worked with questions concerning games in education, role-playing and immersion, as well as issues surrounding high consumption of online games. Currently he is one of the editors for the Routledge volume Dark Side of Gameplay http://www.routledge.com/books/details/9781138827288/

For more information, write an email to ninp (at) itu.dk


June 17 @ 10:00 am
June 18 @ 4:30 pm


Nina Patricia Houe
ninp (at) itu.dk


IT University of Copenhagen
Rued Langgaards Vej 7
Copenhagen, 2300 Denmark
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+45 72 18 50 00