2011 Schedule

The Symposium features speakers that are leaders nationwide in the area of using video games to enhance educational goals. They represent experience with award winning games that are household names, as well as real experience in application to the classroom.


Monday, August 22nd

8:30am – Breakfast Reception & Registration

9:00am – Welcome & Opening Remarks

9:15am – Keynote Presentation


The Game-based Classroom: The Complete Quest-based Approach to Learning Management (9:15am-9:50am)

Chris Haskell, Lecturer, Department of Educational Technology, Boise State Universit

Can the way we think about education be re-invented?  What would school look like if it “played” like a video game? Beyond Gamification, the presentation discusses the practical and complete approach to throwing out the grade book, dropping due dates, developing individual learning paths for every student, and connecting to standards and expectations in ways we never thought possible.  Chris Haskell and his colleague Dr. Lisa Dawley at Boise State have created a system built on experiences points, badges, achievements, leveling, and student choice.  The presentation will demonstrate the tool, pedagogy, and share the results of a yearlong Design-Based Research project.

10:00am – Presentations


Empirical Studies of the Use of Video Games to Accelerate Reading Comprehension and Scientific Problem Solving. (10am-10:50am)

Brock R. Dubbels, PhD, Educator , The Center for Cognitive Sciences, The University of Minnesota
Research will be presented from four middle school contexts on reading and science outcomes using video games. Discussion will be offered on how teachers and administrators can implement curriculum, assessment and evaluation.


Mario room:

More STEM, More Games (10am-10:50am)

Carla Engelbrecht Fisher, Children’s Technology Instructor, Doctoral Candidate, No Crusts Interactive
Last year we discussed how games can help support STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) curriculum goals across a variety of ages. This year, we’ll continue the conversation by examining games that go hand-in-hand with STEM skills such as cooperation, communication, problem solving, and data collection and visualization.


Pong room:

WoW in School: Classroom Cataclysm (10am-10:50am)

Peggy Sheehy Instructional Technologist; Lucas Gillispie, Instructional Technology Coordinator, Pender County Schools
Today’s kids are born into a media-rich, networked world of infinite possibilities. But their digital lifestyle is about more than just cool gadgets; it’s about engagement, self-directed learning, creativity, and empowerment. Often, teachers find ourselves on the outside peering into a world we neither know nor understand. Too often, we draw conclusions that miss the point — and the promise — of what these new communication tools offer.” (EDUTOPIA) This session will demonstrate how educators from two states (NY & NC) worked together to facilitate a collaborative after-school program using World of Warcraft to engage at-risk youth. After a successful first year, the project was expanded into the regular academic program, and aligned to both state and national core standards for language arts.


Participants will: investigate the massively multiplayer game, World of Warcraft and discuss the rationale for games in education draw curricular connections between the game, World of Warcraft and the novel, The Hobbit, by JRR Tolkien discover the potential for engaging and addressing multiple learning styles and ability levels collect practical ideas on how to leverage the unique properties of video games for education explore the Hero’s Journey course via Moodle LMS meet and/or join the educator network within World of Warcraft, the Cognitive Dissonance Guild acquire a step-by-step protocol to establish a similar program in their own school or join the WoWinSchool collaborative.


11:00am – Presentations & Workshops


Integrating Technology to Make Your Job Easier (11am-11:50am)

Seann Dikkers, Teacher, Principal, & Doctoral Student, Univeristy of Wisconsin – Madison
Technology moves fast, real fast. Even in the last year thousands of new applications have hit the market that is becoming nigh impossible to stay on top of. This session only begins to summarize the last few years. But ooh, what wonderful years they have been for teachers. Thanks to network applications, the ‘cloud’, open sourcing, demo marketing, and serious games, teachers, and their students, can take advantage of the digital age in whole new exciting ways. In an hour, we are going to blast through a plethora of applications teachers across the country are using in for organization, production, multi-channeling, information, collaboration, and to reinvent their classrooms. You will leave with at least a couple leads on technology that you can use tomorrow – or better yet, this coming school year. Technology moves fast, buckle in, because we’re going to move faster.

Mario room:

Year 1: Social Robotics Workshop: Engaging Students Where They Are (11am-11:50am)

Jennifer Goodall, Director, College of Computing and Information Student Center, University at Albany; Katy DeCorah, Assistant Director, College of Computing and Information Student Center, University at Albany
This presentation highlights results of the first year of running a workshop for children that presents basic computer science concepts by focusing both on the core fundamentals of robotics and the role of social interaction in future robot platforms. This workshop engages students with interesting tasks that explore the capabilities and ideas behind robotic platforms. We try to meet students “where they are”, allowing them to explore robotic concepts in terms of exercises based around every day real life scenarios. After 16 workshops and 3 demos during Year 1, we’ve learned a few things and will present our findings during the presentation.

Tetris lab:

[WORKSHOP] Turtles, Coon Cats, and Scratch: Oh My! (11am-11:50am)

Kathryn Verzoni Perry
Join Kathy and a few of her past fifth grade students for an interactive, hands-on Scratch programming workshop. Developed at MIT by Mitch Resnick (creator of the Lego Brick) and colleagues, Scratch is grant sponsored and available FREE. Learn how kids of all ages apply computational thinking in order to create and share their own interactive stories, games, music, and art using Scratch.

12:00pm – Lunch

1:00pm – Presentations & Workshops


Games for Youth Civic Engagement (1pm-1:50pm)

Juan Rubio, Global Kids Inc.
This presentation will discuss two programs involving game technology for educational purposes. The first is Global Kids and the New York Public Library’s “NYC Haunts”, where middle school students in the Bronx created a location-based game on iPads using the platform SCVNGR to learn about local history and explore larger social issues such as clean air, religious tolerance and racial differences. The second one will discuss the use of the virtual world Second Life in the Let’s Talk Sustainability program. Let’s Talk Sustainability is an intensive youth development program that supports high school youth to develop expertise regarding sustainability, online broadcasting, and virtual world construction. Global Kids youth in New York City combines this expertise to produce a talk show, featuring live interviews with scientists and other STEM-related professionals, pre-produced videos, and game show like activities. This talk show will be a virtual talk show, filmed before a live studio audience within the virtual world Second Life.

Mario room:

[WORKSHOP] Making Vocabulary Matter: Using Digital Games in Engaging Word Learning Lessons (1pm-2:30pm)

Jay Bachhuber, Researcher, Center for Children and Technology
This will be a 90 minute workshop about unconventional uses of games in the classroom. Through testing our game Cypher Force, we’ve found that teachers are often excited to imagine possible uses for the game we had not considered. While vocabulary is frequently viewed as a subject that teachers feel obligated to cover without much understanding of how to tie it in with more engaging topics, Cypher Force has shown itself to be an evocative tool that can connect word learning with a variety of other skills. In this workshop, we’ll discuss CCT’s approach to using games with traditional classroom practices, play Cypher Force in small groups, and then imagine new ways to use technology to integrate vocabulary learning with other educational goals.


Pac-Man lab:

[WORKSHOP] WoW for Educators (1pm-3:50pm)

Peggy Sheehy Instructional Technologist; Lucas Gillispie, Instructional Technology Coordinator, Pender County Schools

Massively Multiplayer Online Roleplay Games, or MMO’s, have dominated the computer gaming industry for the last several years. MMO’s go beyond traditional computer gaming, though. They are vibrant, persistent, and surprisingly social worlds. As educators begin to take their first steps into these spaces, we’re finding that there’s a wealth of often overlooked educational value for our learners. Join officers Peggy Sheehy and Lucas Gillispie as we explore the highly popular MMO, World of Warcraft. Not only will you explore, learn, and quest together in an exciting fantasy world, you’ll be introduced to the strategies we’ve used to adapt worlds like these to our classrooms. Though our focus, play and learning together will take place in the fantasy world of Azeroth, the mythical setting of World of Warcraft, the concepts you’ll learn can be adapted to any MMO, including Lord of the Rings Online, RuneScape, and others. Grab your sword, strap on your armor, and don your educator’s cap of wisdom as we embark on a quest for learning!


2:00pm – Presentations

The Multiplayer Classroom: Designing Coursework as a Game. (2pm-2:50pm)
Lee Sheldon, Co-Director Games and Simulation Arts and Sciences, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Going beyond video games to increase student engagement, grades and attendance for free.

Pong room:
Cyber Awareness: Facebook and Other Current Issues (2pm-2:50pm)
Kelly J. Schermerhorn, Questar III-Model Schools Coordinator
This one hour session will encompass cyber security issues personally and professionally, Facebook and the legal ramifications plus other current issues, such as sexting, bullying and the law. Join me to learn more about cyber issues that we face in the classroom and how to protect yourself.


3:00pm – Presentations

Open Conversation on Games in Education – Specifics Decided by Attendees! (3pm-3:50pm)
Moderated by Katherine Jetter, Director of Education, WMHT

Tuesday, August 23rd


9:00am – Presentations

“I Really Didn’t Do Anything”: Leadership and Teaching Cases of Technology Integration, Innovation, and Awesomeness (9am-9:50am)

Seann Dikkers, Teacher, Principal, & Doctoral Student, Univeristy of Wisconsin – Madison
If there are ‘21st century’ skills emergent in the workplace and student learning, should we be surprised there are emergent practices among teachers and their professional development trajectories too? School leaders and innovative teachers will engage with a few really amazing cases happening in schools around the country. This session reviews research, from the 21st Century Teaching Project, surrounding the professional development trajectories of some of the nation’s most innovative teachers, common threads of professional learning and stimulation for new ideas they found, and principals for leadership that encourages innovative practice.


Mario room:
Reflecting on Collective Cognitive Dissonance – A Panel Review (9am-9:50am)
Catherine V. Parsons, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum, Instruction and Pupil Personnel Services: Pine Plains Central School District; Peggy Sheehy, Instructional Technologist; Lucas Gillispie, Instructional Technology Coordinator, Pender County Schools
A group of educators spending time playing video games? A gaming guild functioning as learning community? As an extension of a professional learning network? That is exactly what Cognitive Dissonance has become for a few dozen educators spread across the globe. Searching for an avenue to explore MMORPGs, gaming, and connections to education, World of Warcraft became the environment to support teacher learning, drawing together a range of educators in an affinity structure. “Cognitive Dissonance” is an Alliance guild on the Sisters of Elune (US) realm chartered in December of 2007. Cognitive Dissonance is also an uncomfortable feeling caused by holding two contradictory ideas simultaneously. It became the name of the guild in honor of the conflict in thought between traditional learning structures and the ubiquitous use of technology in education. General themes of collective learning within the guild have emerged over time. Learning to game together, learning about gaming together, and in general learning from one another constitute the general domains of scholarship investigated by the group. This panel will focus on reflections and informal case study of the social andlearning experiment we call “CogDis”.


10:00am – Presentations

Teaching with Minecraft (10am-10:50am)
Joel Levin, Technology Integrator, Columbia Grammar and Preparatory School
What makes Minecraft different and special? Why are so many people excited about what this game can offer to students and teachers? Joel has come to be known as the Minecraft Teacher for his recent work with young children and this popular, open-world, “sandbox” game. This presentation will explore the Minecraft’s popularity with gamers, parents, and educators alike. Joel will give insight into how his classes work and will showcase the ways Minecraft is being used in schools around the world. Beyond that, the way children are learning, socializing, and expressing themselves in virtual worlds will be explored.

Mario room:
Understanding History Through Interactive Gaming (10am-10:50am)
Robin Cannito Gold, Outreach Producer, LAB@THIRTEEN, WNET Public Media New York
MISSION US is a groundbreaking multimedia project from New York City public television Station THIRTEEN designed to engage upper elementary and middle school students in American history content. The centerpiece of MISSION US is a series of standards-based, quest-themed video games accompanied by resources to support gameplay and classroom teaching. Through innovative and captivating gameplay, players “choose their own adventures” as they navigate historic settings, develop relationships with key figures, investigate primary source documents, witness pivotal events, and ultimately decide their fate in the face of history. Learn more about Mission 1: “For Crown or Colony?” get a sneak peek at Mission 2: “Flight to Freedom,” and learn about the wide variety of accompanying educational resources in this dynamic, hands-on workshop.


11:00am – Presentations

From their Perspective (11am-11:50am)
Catherine V. Parsons, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum, Instruction and Pupil Personnel Services: Pine Plains Central School District; Sabrina R. Parsons, Student and Virtual Worlds Resident; Donald J. Parsons, Student and Gamer
Virtual worlds and video games are common to the life experiences of our children today. In these environments our students are cooperating, collaborating, making decisions under stress, taking objective-based risks, making ethical decisions, employing scientific deduction, mastering skills, applying new information, thinking laterally and strategically, persisting in the pursuit of problem solving, learning to understand foreign cultures, and managing businesses and people (adapted from M. Prensky). Come explore these concepts presented along with students who can speak from their own experiences.


Mario room:
Just Press Play: A Gaming Layer for Student Success (11am-11:50am)
Elizabeth Lane Lawley, Professor of Interactive Games & Media and Director of the Lab for Social Computing, Rochester Institute of Technology
The “Just Press Play” project involves the creation of a “gaming layer” for students in RIT’s School of Interactive Games & Media. It is intended to encourage student development through achievements and formative feedback. The system is built around the underlying narrative concept of “the hero’s journey.” In that journey, not every element of the adventure is directly or immediately relevant to the overarching goal, or at least not in a way that is immediately evident to the protagonist. This is also true of the student experience; students struggle at times to understand how a given assignment, course, experience, or action relates to their educational and career goals. As educators, we strive to connect the dots between their curricular work and their professional goals. Faculty are their mentors in this journey; the Gandalfs to their Frodos. This talk will address both the technical and the conceptual design challenges we’ve faced as we prepare to launch “Just Press Play” for our 750 undergraduate students this fall.

12:00pm – Lunch

1:00pm – Presentations & Workshops

The Game as Design Principle (1pm-1:50pm)
Brian Waniewski, Managing Director, Institute of Play
This presentation will explore how the design principles underlying games were leveraged to create a new kind of public school in NYC, called Quest to Learn. See how these principles play out across the school—in the curriculum design process and in the classroom—and what the game—as a metaphor and design tool—offers teachers today. Q&A will follow.


Pac-Man lab:
[WORKSHOP] PBS Games for Young Learners (1pm-1:50pm)
Barbara Lukas, Family Learning Coordinator, WMHT
This hands-on session will introduce free, educational multimedia resources for teachers and students available from WMHT and PBS, with a special focus on early childhood learners. (PreK – Grade 2).


Sonic lab:
[WORKSHOP] Taking Learning Underground: Minecraft in the Classroom (1pm-3:50pm)
Joel Levin, Technology Integrator, Columbia Grammar and Preparatory School and Lucas Gillispie, Instructional Technology Coordinator, Pender County Schools
The game Minecraft has taken the gaming community by storm, demonstrating that independent games are alive and well. Grab your mining pick and join Lucas Gillispie as you explore this incredibly simple yet powerful sandbox world where you are only limited by your imagination. In addition to playing and building together, we’ll discuss curricular connections and collectively brainstorm ways you can engage student learning with this compelling virtual world.


2:00pm – Presentations & Workshops

Early Childhood Science Resources from The Jim Henson Company (2pm-2:50pm)
Maura Thompson, Associate Director – Children’s Outreach, Thirteen/WNET
The Jim Henson Company’s Sid the Science Kid and Dinosaur Train are preschool science series that air on PBS Kids nationally. Dinosaur Train encourages basic scientific thinking skills as the audience learns about life science, natural history and paleontology. Participants will learn about new initiatives that encourage adults to get into nature with young children including a geocaching challenge, a nature trackers club and a citizen science project with the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Sid the Science Kid features a practical in-school science curriculum and uses music and humor to celebrate children’s natural curiosity about science in everyday life. Session participants will gain the materials and support necessary to implement Sid the Science Kid resources in their classroom. Both series are founded in cognitive research and participants will have the opportunity to sign up to receive free educational resources for both series.


Pac-Man lab:
[WORKSHOP] Screencasting for Educators and Students (2pm-3:50pm)
Kathleen A. Gormley, PhD, Associate Professor, The Sage Colleges, Troy, NY; Peter McDermott, PhD, Professor, Pace University, New York, New York
This is a hands on workshop that will teach participants how to develop effective screencasts using Jing and Screencast-o-matic, free Web 2.0 tools. Attendees are encouraged to bring laptops to the session, which will address screencasting K-12.


3:00pm – Workshops

Tetris lab:
[WORKSHOP] Scratch Impact on Students Methodological Capabilities: Brief Introduction and Hands on Activities (3pm-3:50pm)
Teresa Ferrer, PhD Student and Research Scholar, SUNY Albany-Blanquerna University
As we all know, our students need to be able to understand and synthesize tons of information, but furthermore, they need to be able to create new knowledge. One feasible way is using computers and programming activities since they offer a safe and encouraging environment for students to start creating. In this sense, Scratch is different from other programming languages and this presentation aims to briefly introduce its main features through a hands-on activity, and present past studies that show its impact on self-directed and mathematical capabilities.