Tag Archives: games in learning

GamesNET 2017

girls best at acmi

Over the last 3 years, our school has been a member of this exciting, cutting edge and innovative project. It is possibly a world first. The project is being sponsored by ACMI – The Australian Centre for the Moving Image and the Victorian Department of Education (DET).

A number of schools across Victoria have been accepted into the program. The students involved come from a mix of city/country and primary/secondary, with a maximum of four students from each school. They are grouped in pairs from their own school but then matched with another pair of students from another school.

making games

At the beginning of the project schools, teachers and parents have to fill in appropriate permission forms. The first formal day involves students and teacher coming to ACMI at Federation Square in Melbourne for a face to face meeting. This allows staff and students to get to know each other face to face, commence work in their small groups and go away feeling confident in the overall requirements of the project. Vincent Trundle, the manager of the project, outlines the tools to be used, the value of learning with games, its impact for the future and covers basic digital citizenship.

screen in zoom.PNG

Unfortunately a number of schools could not be there physically but came in virtually through zoom. Two of the students in my girls’ groups worked in zoom with De De during the small group discussions. One of them competently shared her screen, pulled up her graphics pad and commenced sketching ideas for games sprites. It was though they were in the same room.

zoom online meeting

Students looked at using Scratch for coding the games, whilst teachers formulated the groups of 4 students. Each group has a teacher allocated and a games industry mentor.  One students is a coder, another a leader, another a musical producer and the fourth student is  in charge of the art work.

Initial discussions took place as to the name of the group, the type of game they wanted to create, the characters in the game etc. The tools to be used are:

  1. Google documents for sharing, archiving, collaborating and mapping the learning.
  2. Slack for communicating, connecting and collaborating. There is a chat area for each team and an overall chat for the whole community
  3. Zoom is used for videoconferencing
  4. Email is used only where necessary.

Once back at school, students are expected to use slack to communicate regularly, stating what they have been up to, share questions and general conversations etc. They are asked to meet with their groups, using zoom, at least once a week at a mutually agreeable time (during school or after school). Art work, music and other files are shared on the google documents.

This is an exciting project that embraces so many of the 21st century workforce skills both the present and the future. Effective collaboration is a skill to be taught and this makes a great platform to learn how.


GamesNET Collaborative Project

working as a group

GamesNET is a 3 year DET funded program aimed at (primarily) Gifted and Talented kids across Victoria. 2015 will be a pilot year. ACMI (The Australian Centre for the Moving Image) are organising and overseeing the project. Four students from our school, Hawkesdale P12 College,  will be involved from years 7 and 8. Although, Jarrod Hogan, their English and Humanities teacher, will be primarily responsible, I will be helping out on the sidelines.

Students will be grouped as a trio, across age groups and across schools. They will work on creating videogames collaboratively in the online environment. Much of their collaboration and work will be completed online in their own time, with parents encouraged to oversee and a mentor usually on duty. They will be assisted through the process by the Australian Centre for the Moving Image, industry mentors, online resources and specialist teachers.

Visiting the museum at ACMI

Visiting the museum at ACMI

Some of the tools to be used will be:

  • slack – for chat, socializing, discussions, sharing resources etc. It allows videos and images to be shown live
  • zoom – for online meetings
  • google drive for sharing documents and files with a group
  • scratch for creating the games
  • machinima for making movies of games et minecraft


Students attended one or two days face to face days in Melbourne, so they could get to know each other and learn more about the art of creating videogames. They will all meet up again in December, when they will all showcase their games. This is an exciting project to be involved in!
gamesNET at ACMI

Learning MS Kodu at Quantum

quantum welcome

Programming the game

Year 9/10 games technology students from Hawkesdale P12 College  travelled by but to Quantum Victoria  to develop their skills in designing and creating games with MS Kodu . These students love to play games, but it is important that they look at creating and not just always consuming!

design your own game

Here is what our day looked like. Students

  • were introduced to the concept of programming and the need for following logical,  precise steps. This was applied  to their favourite games initially.
  • were given an alienware laptop to work with and introduced to MS Kodu via a series of prescribed tutorials
  • designed a game with pen and paper
  • Developed their game
  • Those who finished the game, tested it to ensure it played correctly and then had it evaluated by a peer, who played their game
  • Saved their games on a common usb drive or emailed the game to themselves

Designin the game with pen and paper

Some chose to work as individuals and some as groups. Students enjoyed their day and liked working with MS Kodu. The games have been saved to their network folders and will continue to be work in progress. Students who have completed games will be challenged to add another level.

girls and games

MS Kodu is relatively simple to work with, has good graphics and a great number of resources online. It is also on the student edustar image and therefore accessible on their netbooks and on our school computer network.

hard at work

The ideal class!

Walking into my first year 9/10 ICT class for the semester, I faced high-5s, excitement and high anticipation!  What!!! Why???

This was an elective class, students who chose to be there and the name of the class was “Gaming!”  I wanted to trial gaming as an elective to see what learning could take place and obtained permission from the leadership team to do so. We have some serious gamers in our school and they are in this class!

pumpkin head

However, I am not a at all a digital gamer and have no real inclination to be one. That puts me on the lowest level of knowledge and the least likely to be qualified to teach such a class. I am still working through class content and the way in which learning can be assessed.

MinecraftEDU is on our server and is the one constant game played over the semester. Students just do not seem to tire of it. However, students come up with minecraft challenges and these challenges are given out to the others. Students will bring in hardware including wii, xbox, game boy,  play stations, hand held devices etc Are they learning anything by just playing games? Let me tell you more.

game boy

The Student cohort:-

  • A large proportion of under-achievers and disengaged students
  • Excursion and school avoiders
  • A lack of girls (although several came in later in the semester)
  • High absenteeism
  • Students who will be absent from school in order to queue at the shop for the latest games release or in order to make sure they get the limited collectors items.
A collaborative minecraft project: work in progress

A collaborative minecraft project: work in progress


  • Highly engaged students often working in small groups, mentoring each other, sharing their knowledge and learning, answering each other’s questions etc.
  • Students working out challenging projects together
  • Excitedly sharing with me the latest things they are trying out
  • Searching online for video tutorials or withing online forums to solve problems encountered, best prices,
  • Working out budgets to see whether they can afford the latest games etc
  • Collaboratively and simultaneously building fixtures in minecraft

Interestingly I can “con” them into learning some associated digital literacy skills using gaming as the theme so that my role as a teacher:

  • Teach them how to blog and journalise their progress in games
  • Encourage them to write posts on things pertaining to games playing eg game reviews, 5 things I learnt this week, 5 things you might not know about…… , My top 10 computer games, 10 games you should play before you die!, What makes a great computer game etc
  • show them how to add links, resources and hyperlings in blogging
  • #tags in twitter for favourite games
  • how to use a spreadsheet and create budgets etc
  • Create online surveys to get games feedback
  • Collaboratively build online documents sharing knowledge, ideas and processes etc
  • Introduce some free educational type online games and get them to trial them eg logos for business studies, history games, commerce games etc.
  • Teach them how to screen casts to show progression over time and
  • create videos that will be uploaded to youtube.
  • Demonstrate how to upload videos to youtube, change thumbnails, apply tags etc
  • Curate favourite sites with diigo, symbaloo links etc on blogs etc
  • Look at social issues caused by games eg games addiction, rating of games etc, application to the workforce eg simulations etc
  • Organise a knowledgeable student(s) to introduce some games making software eg MS Kodu, and Gamemaker


I asked students what we could do and how I can assess it as traditional  assessment methods will not work. They have come up with some great ideas on this collaborative google document. This is still work in progress but their use of blogging etc, stats, comments, youtube uploads etc Evidence of collaboration, mentoring and sharing etc.


This Thursday, the class will go by coach to Quantum in Melbourne (a 4 hour drive each way) for a full day workshop on Games Technology.  Many of these students would normally choose to avoid excursions or just be very slack in returning forms. But….. this time, forms are all back and came back the next day!

What does all this say? I am still trying to work through it all but I know that I have engaged students with almost nil behaviour problems in this gaming class. Now, how can I get this in my other traditional subjects?

What experience do you have? What have your findings been?

From Angry Birds to Minecraft – What games teach us about learning – an #iste13 session

This post is part of a series of posts sharing some of my favourite learning and sessions at the recent ISTE13 conference in San Antonio.

Why I attended this session:- Games based learning is of high interest to me. I am running a 9/10 ICT elective on gaming and I can still see the faces of the boys when I walked into my first class with them – all smiling, excited, doing high 5s as they were allowed to follow their passion at school – and many of these are highly disengaged in normal classes!

This session by Douglas Kiang (@dkiang) of Hawaii was fascinating. See Douglas’ shared google document iPad Field Trip and see his presentation on slideshare From Angry Birds to Minecraft Here are some of my notes from it:-

Why games?  Douglas stated that we are born knowing to play! Students should be given choices so it does not seem like work but rather like a game. In minecraft there is no end. Even when you are finished you are thinking of new goals.

The top 5 addictive games

  1. Minecraft – sandbox game and the most open ended
  2. Angry birds – ok to fail and keep on failing
  3. Plants vs zombies
  4. Civilization 5 – so many different ways to solve, great rich learning
  5. League of Legends

Douglas defined the roles of games players as being:-

  • explorers – love to figure out games etc
  • achievers – how many points and love levelling up
  • socializers – in it to make friends, meet others etc how many followers
  • killers – the smallest percentage – destroy stuff. Griefers’ achievements come from another person’s loss

Failure is part of a game. How can we do that in the classroom? Allow students to fail, fail small, often and still have fun. Games can be flexible and dynamic – often with multiple ways to get through. In class, try and supply multiple paths.   Choice is powerful, provide lots of resources, show them where they are,  encourage and reward the explorers, tell them where they are.


  • provide badges
  • Give great titles to topics eg grand historian
  • use stackoverflow – provides network of support
  • take virtual field trips

Further notes