100 Tips and Resources: A guide for getting started gaming

Jessica Merritt compiled a great resource for librarians, of any type, with questions about gaming in libraries, "Bringing Gaming (and Gamers) to Your Library: 100 Tips and Resources."

Jessica's list of 100 collects a lot of previous written information on gaming events, collections, and research. The list adds other items of interest and general tips for libraries looking to bring in patrons, host events, start collection, promote learning, and defend these practices. This list paired with ALA's Games and Gaming wiki are excellent resources for librarians getting started or looking to expand their gaming programs.

Here are a few of the ideas that are relevant for gaming in an educational context:
21. Position yourself as a guide: Gamers will respect you more if you present yourself as a strategy guide for the game, rather than a gatekeeper.

At the reference desk and in the classroom, we need to be seen as guides and "walkthroughs." We are not gatekeepers, that model is past. Gamers often see guides as a crutch when they are stuck. Librarians are there to help when they get stuck, but we can also be there in the beginning as a tutorial.

31. Play games that require collaboration
: Get everyone involved when you play games that focus on collaboration and teamwork.

Bee Gallegos from AZ State University described that students responded better to their game Quaratined when paired up an not isolated. Learning and play are not isolated experiences.

32. Be prepared for opposition
: Not everyone understands the appeal of gaming, particularly video games, in the library, so you will find that you'll need to defend your actions with academic discussions and statistics.

Resistance and opposition to something new is unfortunately part of the process. Part of the goal of the ALA's Gaming wiki is to provide those resources to librarians to further the discussion and provide assistance.

50. Talking Points about Gaming in Libraries: Use this resource when explaining why bringing games into your library is so important.

51. Games for Teaching Information Literacy Skills
: Felicia A. Smith considers how you can use games for education.

I've written about Felica Smith's work before, the link above is her formal article on her word and puzzle games in info lit.

62. Games for Higher Education: 2008: In this piece, Bryan Alexander examines the complexity of gaming, learning through gaming, and more.

When I started this blog back in 2006, there were very few central sources for gaming and education, let alone libraries (The one site I linked to is now dead). But with resources like these librarians have the tools to be successful in gaming for communities and learning.

Thank you Kelly for the link.

Linking up with Games+ Learning+ Society

Last week the fourth Games+Learning+Society conference happened in Madison, WI. Each year the conference has provided a wealth of information, research, and application on gaming in education. GLS services the research community well by recording their sessions and making them available via Mediasite. Some of this years presentations are already up and online... here.

In addition to the video content, there are a wealth of good blog posts about individual sessions. Serious Game Source had a news story about the start of the conference and James Paul Gee opening statements. The Brainy Gamer has a great write up on Gee's speech and John Rice over at Educational Games Research links to Gamasutra's write up of Gee speech as well.

Mark Chen, who's presented at GLS the last two years, has some nice overviews and commentaries of the day by day sessions: Session 1, Session 2, Session 3 , the second day's Session 3 covering virtual worlds, and Session 4. Mark also provided a list of other blogs covering GLS which is a great resource for more analysis on the sessions.

There were a number of sessions that seem relevant to libraries looking at gaming and I'll post some reflections once I view the session. But one session by Erica and Rick Halverson covered fantasy baseball and the learning that goes on within fantasy baseball games. The Brainy Gamer posted his thoughts on the session and GameSetWatch picked up the session and posted about it as well.

With the wealth of scholarship at GLS and elsewhere, libraries looking at gaming and education should take some time to read through these sessions, view a few presentations, and begin the discussion about what this research means for us in libraries.

Teacher (>,<, or =) Librarian: Where is our role?

Today I had my first Info Lit class of my new job, and it was great to be back in front of students. My energy and job fulfillment come from my interaction with students and getting back teaching breathed life back into me after doing more librarian focused duties for the past few weeks.

I've wrestled with the label of "librarian" for a long time. Am I a librarian who teaches or a teacher who's a librarian? I've struggled with this concept over the last year, trying to determine what choosing one over the other meant for my career. And while there is a clear answer for me based on how I came where I am today, the answer may not be clear for others. But the question is, should it?

At LOEX of the West back in June, Lisa Hinchliffe and Merinda Kaye Hensley spoke about teacher self identity. They described how they were helping create and foster it both in Library Science grad students and in current library faculty. At the beginning of their session, they brought up the concept of "seeing yourself as a teacher, not just assigned teaching duties." This really hit home for me. I am accoustomed to seeing myself as a teacher and sometimes take it for granted that others do.

Off of Lisa's reccomendation during their presentation, I've started reading Parker Palmers' "The Courage to Teach" and read through Scott Walter's "Librarians as Teachers: A Qualitative Inquiry into Professional Identity" article out of College and Research Libraries Janurary issue.

The attendees at the LOEX of the West session brained stormed ideas about "what they wished we known." A partical list is below and it's a great start to reflection over the summer.

  • How to "stand" like a teacher
  • Creating learning outcomes
  • Problems with routine/burnout
  • Handling change as teachable moments
  • Adapting to learning styles
  • Teaching different levels and generations
  • How to focus content
  • Personal control over content
  • Creating collaborations
  • Classroom management
  • Teaching strategies for engagement and active learning
  • Respecting the students and their lives
Where do you fall with the issues? What questions do you have?
We can use the summer not only to get our libraries ready for students in the fall, but ourselves as well.

The ACRL IS section sponsored a session with Jeffrey Liles as the speaker at the ALA conference. Dr. Liles spoke about learning theory and how that can and should translate into the classroom. His theory to practice worksheet can be found on his website along with the conference presentation slides and a host of other resources. His education and learning assumptions (as shown in the slides) are great for any teacher to keep in mind. Some of them fit right into good gaming and good educational pedagogy:
  • Less is more
  • Student in control of their learning
  • Learning is not linear
These assumptions and their connections to learning theory were are great reminder and grounding to start fresh in a new semester and a new classroom.

In my new position I'm spending a lot of time thinking about these teaching issues. I'm working on communicating these ideas and pedagogies to the librarians around me, while still valuing their experience and knowledge. Everyone has something to learn and something to teach. I look forward to experiencing both as a Teacher-Librarian.

Now since this blog focuses on videogames, information literacy, and gaming strategies for pedagogy, teaching philosophy discussions won't happen very often. And just to tie this post back to gaming, here's another example from Teach42's post on creative answers...

From a gamers vocabulary that is a correct answer: "pro" is the opposite of "noob." As teachers, we may never be pros. I'm fine with that. The continued learning and honing of skills is a good thing in the classroom and in any game. While our students may or may not be "noobs" they will grow in their skills as long as we don't consider ourselves too good of "pros" to stop learning and practicing.

Images from Steve Dembo at Teach42 post full of funny test answers from students

Get back in the saddle... Two months of transition

It's been two months since I last posted. Two months, I'm sorry. Unfortunately this isn't the first time I've gone on a long blogging sabbatical, but this my time away is directly related to moving, a new house, and a new job. If there is anyone surprised to see me back... thank you. I'm glad to be back.

Rather go into all the details of what has kept me away - here are a few of the highlights:

Snagged a Wii the week of Wii Fit's release. While my sons were excited they were disappointed that I didn't get Mario Kart Wii. I did pick up one of the last copies in Dubuque, IA of Wii Fit on it's launch day. After checking 4 stores, the 5th had 3 copies left by 6:00 pm. My wife and I were excited to try it. I was not as excited to find out my BMI put me just above the "normal" line into the "overweight" range. But that whole BMI issue has already been discussed. It's "Brain Age" for your body. It's been two months now and I'm still playing. Granted not playing as frequently as I should but I'm playing 3 to 4 times a week. I'm coming up on my 2 month goal and I'm not going to make it. But I still want to keep playing, both alone and with my kids.

The end of May was my final days in Dubuque. I said my final goodbyes to the University of Dubuque and what a goodbye! The kindness of the staff and the support they've given over the years was amazing. I will be forever grateful. And to top it all off they held a going away party filled with 80's music and Wii Sports. I couldn't ask for anything more. Thank you.

Saying goodbye to Dubuque and the University of Dubuque meant moving to De Pere, WI and saying hello to St. Norbert College. The first two weeks of June (before starting library work) were filled with work. Moving into a new house, cleaning, painting, cleaning, building, cleaning some more, and rebuilding made starting "work" feel like a break from all the house projects. After working on our house from 7:30 to at least 10:00 everyday, a regular workday sounds like a break.

The blank slate of my office parallels the blank slate of my new position. There is a lot of work that needs to be done to build an information literacy program here, but there is a lot of work that can be done. Over the past month, I've had chances to meet with a variety of faculty, staff, and students around campus. There is a lot of interest in my position and people open to change and new ideas.

I met with the Associate Academic Dean and chair of the general education committee. He is an exciting person, filled with passion and I look forward to working with him. We met to talk about the college's work to rewrite their general education curriculum, specifically about including information literacy into the curriculum. While this will be a process that takes time, I am excited about the possibility to help shape (or at least strongly advocate) for information literacy across the curriculum. The library has the support of the Associate Academic Dean and he wants to make sure we are not only at the table, but part of the curriculum.

I'm excited about all the potential here and look forward to sharing the growth that we accomplish. Since starting the job at St. Norbert, the house projects have continued. House projects are the major contributor to my lack of blogging. New garage, windows, and now updating the kitchen. There is a never ending stream of projects. By the time I've stopped working on projects each night finding the mental stimulation to blog has been a real challenge. But enough of the excuses, I'm back on a regular basis now.

So after all the transitions of past months, I'll be back and blogging again on a more regular basis. I've written a number of posts over the past weeks and attended LOEX of the West and ALA's Annual Conference so there are a number of posts that I will be putting the finishing touches on my comments and applications over the next weeks.

Thank you for sticking with me. The new job will bring new applications of gaming and information literacy to continue to discuss and share.