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


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

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