November 30, 2007

The Three Wii R’s

I haven’t had a chance to try this yet, but my new gaming friend in Hawaii Amy sent me a link to Arcademic Skill Builders, a site full of free educational games for younger kids. They’re done in Flash so that you can play them with your mouse or keyboard, but some of them a’re also designed to be played on the Wii in its web browser, which is just too cool. Literally get kids involved in the game – wonderful.

About Arcademic Skill Builders

“Arcademic Skill Builders are online educational games that offer a powerful approach to learning basic math, language arts, vocabulary, and thinking skills. This program stems from experience, systematic observations, and research in attempting to understand student learning in school and social situations.

The software was inspired by arcade games and the intense engagement they fostered between the game and player. We reasoned if this kind of engagement could be focused on educational content, it would be truly a magical approach to certain kinds of learning.

Philosophically, the games embrace research on learning dealing with ‘automaticity’ and ‘fluency.’ Automaticity is fast and accurate object identification at the single object level. Fluency involves a deeper understanding, and anticipation of what will come next.

Fluency impacts three types of critical learning outcomes:

  • Retention: the ability to perform a skill or recall knowledge long after formal learning programs have ended
  • Endurance: the ability to maintain performance levels
  • Application: the ability to apply what is learned to perform more complex skills in new situations.

These engaging educational games provide focused repetition practice that enables fluency to be achieved more quickly. With what we now know about automaticity and fluency in academic performance, we can help students achieve masterful levels performance faster than ever before! View our manual for more on our philosophy.

Our educational video games offer an innovative approach to teaching basic academic skills by incorporating features of arcade games and educational practices into fun online games that will motivate, intrigue, and teach your students.”

In the future, they’ll be adding “features that will enable you to save records, tailor content, track scores, pinpoint student problem areas, and much more!”


7:02 am Comments (6)

November 28, 2007

Still More Reasons to Offer Gaming in Libraries (and the Value of Play)

At last month’s Internet Librarian conference, we learned that among other services for seniors, the Old Bridge Public Library in New Jersey was planning to hold a Wii tournament for older adults. Why on earth would a library do this?

Old Bridge Library Unites Generations

“You’re never too old to rock out.

Just ask the 10 Old Bridge seniors who took up Guitar Hero III as part of the Old Bridge Library’s ‘Senior Spaces’ program on Nov. 8.

Seniors, alongside teenage volunteers, tested their mettle in the ubiquitous air-guitar video game and various other games available for the Nintendo Wii gaming system as the first step in the library’s plan to make seniors more technologically proficient and to include them in what Allan Kleiman, assistant director of the Old Bridge Public Library, called the inevitable redesign of libraries.

‘We want to get them to feel they are part of the 21st century library and not left out,’ Kleiman said….

Kleiman said gaming in libraries is becoming more and more common but using the video game to slowly introduce modern technology to seniors is a relatively new idea.

‘This is a lot less frightening to play with than learning to use a computer,’ he said.

Kleiman said seniors should be able to snap a photo with a digital camera or surf the Internet or use the various other technologies surrounding them. The program, he hopes, will provide the catalyst for further learning and inclusion among that community.”…

The program bridges gaps between the ages as well, Kleiman said, allowing teenagers well versed in the ways of the Wii to teach the seniors. The two groups will find a common denominator in competition over the video games. Kleiman said the age segregation that is often found in libraries breaks down when young and old are united by the desire to win.

Kleiman said, though the seniors are undoubtedly learning from the program, they are not the only students in the room. The teenagers learn a bit about life from the seniors.

‘It gives them a whole sense of what growing older can mean,’ Kleiman said, challenging the stereotype of the elderly in nursing homes….

That does not mean the library is going the way of the video arcade. Kleiman said the foundation of the traditional library is still intact but the video games for seniors help “make them feel relevant to what people are doing.”[Home News Tribune]

I really like how the staff at OBPL are approaching this, placing it in a broader context, using video games as teaching moments and touchpoints for social interactions between groups that otherwise don’t socialize together in the library. There are so many video games now that are social activities, not just someone staring at a screen alone (not there’s something wrong with that), and as Eli Neiburger notes, libraries can make games social and add value in the same ways we do for storytime.

I think the social interactions and socialization that takes place around gaming are often overlooked as being something less valuable than when it happens around books. This is one of the reasons that (as with anything) you can’t truly understand the benefits of video games in libraries if you’ve never played them. It’s why I encourage regional organizations (like state libraries and consortia) to purchase a console in order for their member librarians to experience this. It’s difficult to have an informed discussion without the experiential learning aspect. It’s like deciding if a library should offer a book discussion without ever having read a book. Not everyone has to do this, but the folks involved in the discussion should be familiar with the subject, and they can learn from playing the same way seniors at the Old Bridge PL will learn.


6:41 am Comments (4)

November 27, 2007

Gaming in Libraries LTR Update

my LTR cover Last year I wrote the September/October issue of Library Technology Reports on Gaming in Libraries: Intersection of Services as a general overview that could help jumpstart a discussion in a library (especially with a department head or administrator). During the next few weeks, I’ll be writing an update to that issue, so I’m curious what you’d like to see in this new edition.

My intent is to broaden the discussion about gaming to include a more holistic view of the topic, beyond just video games, as well as diversifying the audience for gaming in libraries beyond just teens. So I have a pretty good idea of what I want to write about, and although I’ll have a shorter length to work with (half as long as the first one because TechSource is trying to reduce the cover price of LTR), I’d still like some input. What questions do you need answered? What do you need help explaining to others in your institution? Which areas need some further exploration?

I’m also hoping to highlight a few more case studies if there’s room. I’m particularly interested in showcasing unique gaming services offered by school and rural public libraries or services to nontraditional patrons, so please let me know if you think you’re doing something good.

Please leave a comment and share your thoughts. Thanks!


November 26, 2007

Play with Your Book Discussion Group

You may know that Oprah’s current Book Club selection is Ken Follett’s Pillars of the Earth, but did you know there’s also a game based on the book? Scott Nicholson has even made a video teaching how to play it.

Maybe books and games can coexist in libraries after all….

(Interesting that no libraries in WorldCat own the game. Does FRBR cover games?)


7:05 am Comments (1)

November 20, 2007

Thanksgiving

It’s been quiet around here because I was lucky enough to be invited to speak to some fantastic librarians at the Hawaii Library Association Conference, so I was able to sneak in one of the most amazing vacations I’ve ever had (the pictures from which you can see here, although I’m still uploading them). Big thank yous to Dave Brier, Becky, and Vicky for inviting me and all of the help they provided for my sessions. My “talk with slides” is available on my presentations wiki as a PDF.

Hawaiian librarians rock, especially Amy, who had my favorite quote of the conference. While talking about allowing her high school students to game in the computer lab during recess, she said, “I refused to say no,” and it’s paid off big time for her. She’s made connections with the kids that she wouldn’t have otherwise made, and now some of them confide in her because of this.

Other travelers are also home now, including our Dutch friends, who have posted the final video of the Shanachie Tour. Well, of this year’s Tour, anyway. ;-) We all miss you guys very much – I sure do – but you did an amazing thing and inspired a lot of librarians here.


6:19 am Comments (8)

November 2, 2007

The Open Source ILS Song

While I love all of the Shanachie Tour videos of American public libraries released so far, my favorite is easily the one from the Florence Public Library in Colorado. Not because of the message of “the open source ILS song” sung by two librarians there, but more for the spirit in which they sing it. They are having *fun.* You really have to hear this one – jump ahead to the 10:35 mark if you just want to hear the song, but the interviews are great, too.

Florence librarians singing "the open source song"

Nice job, FPL ladies! And great videos, Shanachies! I can’t wait to see you again – I am proud to call you my friends. You inspired many librarians during your journey.

"the Dutch mob"


6:02 am Comments (7)

Supporting Gaming on Campus, Including in the Library

Game On at the Undergraduate Library

“The upcoming November 3rd event is co-sponsored by the [UIUC] Undergraduate Library and the Sousa Archive and Center for American Music and is part of the celebration of American Music Month. The evening will focus on music in gaming and will include speakers from the Department of Music as well as industry experts from Volition, a growing gaming company in Champaign. The event will also introduce a game created by campus researchers (Musiverse).

Gaming at the library – come to play, come to learn. Game On!” [@ Your Service]


5:43 am Comments Off

Next Page »