Clark Quinn's Learnings about Learning
(The Official Quinnovation blog)

13 January 2011

Talking on Games at Learning Technologies UK (26-27 Jan)

Clark @ 6:04 AM

On short notice, I’ll be speaking on games at the UK’s Learning Technologies conference at the end of the month.  I’ve heard great things and always wanted to go, and now I get to.

I’ve met and talked with Donald Taylor, who manages it, and he instill confidence in the quality of the conference.  And looking at the lineup of speakers, I’m impressed and eager.  I see folks I’ve wanted to hear and meet (Cathy Moore and Clive Shepherd, for two), folks I know and want to spend more time with, and new folks to find out about.

And I’m keen to revisit games.  It’s been six years (!) since I put up my take on designing learning games, but I have continued to look at what’s out there.  And I mmodestly think that while there are some really great books out there, none really provides any improvement in what I focused on: why learning can and should be hard fun.

In particular, the alignment between what makes engaging experiences and what makes effective education practice is still the best model I’ve found to frame design, and my design process still provides systematic and pragmatic guidance about how to design them.  After all, it’s all well and good to talk about how wonderful games can be, but if you can’t reliably and repeatably do that for any learning objective, it’s kind of a waste. And I stick to my claim that you can’t give me a learning objective I can’t design a game for, but I reserve the right to raise the objective ‘high’ enough (in the taxonomic sense).

I truly believe games are important.  They are, quite simply, the best practice environment you can provide to develop the learning outcomes that will make a difference to your organization: the ability to make the right decisions.  Ok, the best next to mentored live practice, but that has problems of scale; mentors are hard to clone, and live practice can be costly.  Games can also serve as assessment environments.

So, I encourage you to attend the conference if you can, it looks quite good. And, if you do, I hope you introduce yourself.  Looking forward to it!


  1. That’s great news. I’m looking forward to meeting you soon.

    Comment by Cathy Moore — 13 January 2011 @ 7:31 AM

  2. After an age or two of not really thinking about them at all, this is the second time learning games has come up this week; don’t you love serendipity? (The other was a co-worker pointing me at the new EDUCAUSE constituent group for games and learning (http://www.educause.edu/cg/gamesandlearning)… which I joined, and was waiting to see whether or not it developed into anything before I passed the link on to you, but the coincidence was too much for me and I had to bring it up. Now I’ve spilled the beans before I’ve checked to see if there are really any beans to spill, so to speak.)

    In any case, have an excellent time at the conference!

    Comment by Rob Moser — 13 January 2011 @ 8:50 AM

  3. For those of us who will not be lucky enough to attend, but are quite interested in games, please share your notes and thoughts here! I’ll look forward to reading the backchannel from afar.

    Comment by Kelly Meeker — 13 January 2011 @ 12:21 PM

  4. This sounds awesome, can’t wait to see what kind of followup happens. I am also not particularly familiar with edugames, are these available only at conferences? What kind of games are these? are they specific to the computer, or are we talking board and card games?

    Comment by Cherie Frame — 14 January 2011 @ 7:39 AM

  5. Cathy, likewise. Rob, love serendipity. Hope the Educause group catalyzes to critical mass and makes some inroads. Kelly, I haven’t been writing much about games, but if you click on the games category (on the right), you’ll see my old postings.

    Cherie, I’m particularly talking about digital games (tho’ the principles, I believe, are generalizable and apply to designing learning experiences regardless of medium). Definitely not only at conferences, but for implementing in your organization/institution.

    Comment by Clark — 14 January 2011 @ 8:25 AM

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