Highly educational pre-conference workshops to kick-off TECH 2018

The seven pre-conference workshops attracted a group of over 200 participants including students, environmentalists, scientists, educators, entrepreneurs and teachers from India, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Bhutan and Bangladesh. The pre-conference workshops provided capacity building and training for participants with a showcase of an eclectic blend of games, educational technologies and learning platforms.

November 21, 2018 | Visakhapatnam, State of Andhra Pradesh, INDIA

In the days leading up to TECH 2018, seven highly engaging and interactive pre-conference workshops were conducted by experts in digital pedagogies at the lush campus of Andhra University, in Visakhapatnam, India. The workshops, held on November 13-14, 2018, attracted a group of over 200 participants including students, environmentalists, scientists, educators, entrepreneurs and teachers from India, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Bhutan and Bangladesh. The pre-conference workshops provided capacity building and training for participants with a showcase of an eclectic blend of games, educational technologies and learning platforms.

The first day commenced with a hands-on workshop by UNITY Technologies titled “Beginning interactive design with Unity”, conducted on the Unity platform by specialists from the organisation - to teach educators how to create simple, engaging games.

The workshop emphasised the value addition games bring into learning, including building engagement, retention and overcoming the fear of failure.

At the end of Day 1, participants created a short animation on the concept of photosynthesis. The Minecraft by Microsoft workshop, also held on Day 1, engaged participants in a stimulating discussion on how games based learning can be effective. The workshop helped participants foster their creative thinking abilities, enhance engagement with content matter as well as provided the right tools for participants to create games based world maps for geography, periodic tables for chemistry, teaching ethics and designing sustainable homes using Minecraft.

The second day (November 14) saw multiple workshops held simultaneously across different venues.  The workshop on Collabrify was conducted by Elliot Soloway, Professor, Department of Computer Science & Engineering, University of Michigan and Catherine Norris, Professor & Chairperson, Department of Learning Technologies, University of North Texas. The facilitators demonstrated to the participants how they could use free, device-independent tools in the Collabrify Roadmap System to manage the full life-cycle of a “Roadmap” – a sequence of digital objects that support learners – children to adults – in developing the skills and understanding that are increasingly needed in our digital world. During the workshop, attendees built, delivered, enacted, and shared Roadmaps collaboratively.

The workshop on “Science of Reading” was conducted by Dr. Margie Gillis, the President of Literacyhow.

Bringing with her 40+ years of experience as an educator, Dr. Gillis commenced the session by stating that “reading is rocket science, it is complex”.

She explained how reading is a complex process, which involves multiple components, all of which a child needs to be taught. Participants were also given multiple opportunities to practice simple and easy-to-implement activities, which can be used to teach these skills.

Dr. Harold Glasser, Professor, Environmental and Sustainability Studies & Developer of 'Catch', conducted a workshop on the role of games and simulations as powerful tool for Education for Sustainable Development (ESD), and emphasised the critical role of educators, trainers and teachers in achieving SDGs.

During the workshop, Dr. Glasser stated “How we think and perceive the world matters. We need to move away from the dominant anthropocene worldviews towards a more socially just and inclusive one.”

While playing the ESD game, ‘Catch’, participants were introduced to the concept of sustainable lifestyle and the role of ESD in promoting it.

The next workshop, titled ‘Lets Make a Game’ innovatively combined physical games with digital ones to emphasise the defining characteristic of a good learning game, i.e. collaborative problem solving as compared to zero-sum game. The facilitators, Chris Crowell, Game Designer and Matthew Farber, Assistant Professor in Technology, Innovation, and Pedagogy, University of Northern Colorado, guided participants through a step-by-step process of creating a game right from ideation to prototyping. 

Following the Make A Game process, each team focused on one aspect of their curriculum, and devised gameplay that required using that concept. Using collaborative discussion, paper, pens, tape, and scissors, they evolved simple game prototypes. Rounds of play-testing revealed areas needing improvement, leading to reworking of rules, cutting, and taping.  At the end of the workshop, each team was very proud to present the game they had created as a group, and to celebrate the creations of the other teams. Its safe to say that for three hours everyone became a kid again, having fun making something with friends. And each educator gained the knowledge that theycould make a game and the confidence to try it in their classrooms with their students.

Explaining the relevance of the workshop, Chris Crowell expressed "Many educators have an idea for a classroom game, but feel blocked by lack of technical know-how, or they just don't know how to get started. This workshop walked them through a proven process, providing a successful experience so that they can gain the confidence needed to just keep making games. As is usual in this workshop, the attendees were rambunctious and enthusiastic about having fun while learning. The room was quickly divided up into areas of curriculum, with teams assembled around the ideas of biology, mindfulness, and 2 teams of computer science."

Further, on Day 2, Saurabh Roy, Chief Technology Officer, UNESCO MGIEP and  Devesh Kumar, Digital Pedagogy Developer, UNESCO MGIEP conducted an exclusive preview workshop of the Collective Human Intelligence (CHI) Portal. Attendees experienced a hands-on walkthrough of CHI, UNESCO MGIEP's indigenously developed digital platform that provides content creators and educators the freedom to develop engaging and immersive content in a multi-modal environment to effectively meet learning objectives.

The overall response of participants who attended the pre-conference workshops was extremely positive.

Ms. Maria Sanchez, a student from the Tecnológico de Monterrey was a participant in the pre-conference workshops and shared her experience: "The experience at the pre-conference workshops was amazing! We got to learn more about gamification straight from the experts. Plus, the fact that we got to create and play our own game, it was truly wonderful."

Another participant, Monse, a student from Tecnológico de Monterrey described their experience at the workshops: “Receiving knowledge directly from experts on the field was quite a fulfilling experience. Being able to share and collaborate with other participants, all with different backgrounds, was fun. An excellent warm up before the conference!”

Many participants described their experience highly stimulating, engaging and educational and called for UNESCO MGIEP to conduct many more such capacity-building initiatives on digital pedagogies in the future.

Related links:

Pre-conference workshops details

TECH 2018 official website

Facilitator Details:

  1. Roadmaps for Student Success: Using the Free, Device-Independent Collabrify Roadmap System to Manage Digital Curricula by Dr. Elliot Soloway (University of Michigan - soloway@umich.edu) and Dr. Cathie Norris (University of North Texas - cathie.norris@unt.edu)
  2. Beginning Interactive Design with Unity by Mr. Jainaressh (jainaressh@unity3d.com), Mr. Madhur and Ms. Jessica Lindl (jessical@unity3d.com) from Unity Technologies
  3. One Teacher at a Time: Supporting Teachers’ Knowledge of the Science of Reading by Dr. Margie B. Gillis (Literacy How, Inc. - margiegillis@literacyhow.com)
  4. Catch by Dr. Harold Glasser (Western Michigan University - harold.glasser@wmich.edu)
  5. Lets Make a Game by Chris Crowell (UNESCO MGIEP - crowellinteractive@gmail.com) and Matthew Farber (University of Northern Colorado - Matthew.Farber@unco.edu)
  6. Powering up STEM with Minecraft (Minecraft for Education) by Meenakshi Uberoi (De Pedagogics - meenakshi.uberoi@hotmail.com and thepedagogics@outlook.com)
  7. Collective Human Intelligence (CHI) Portal Immersive Walkthrough by Sourabh Roy (s.roy@unesco.org) and Devesh Kumar (d.kumar@unesco.org), UNESCO MGIEP

For further details / information, please contact Mr. Robin SHARMA, Gaming Curriculum Developer, UNESCO MGIEP (r.sharma@unesco.org)