Presentation and Game Technologies

The past two weeks we’ve explored the benefits and underlying theories of presentation/content delivery technologies and games.

Presentation and Content Delivery, Otherwise Known as Digital Storytelling…

Image courtesy of
Image courtesy of Stephanie Samios, via

One key to effective presentations is telling a story. Stories are familiar and accessible to everyone, and connect with the audience’s emotions (Jamison, 2014). Digital stories enhance spoken/written text with multimedia, making them engaging and a good fit for classrooms, where there is a wide range of learning strengths and preferences (Frazel, 2010). Digital storytelling can be motivating and engaging, because students already telling own stories with web 2.0. The images at left give a sample of the multitude of digital tools available for presentations. This medium also motivates reluctant and struggling readers and writers (Morgan, 2014). However, a presentation, no matter how beautifully done, may not be the best method for delivering your content. A more interactive approach may be more appropriate. Teachers need to consider the standards, curricular goals, and their students before deciding on a presentation or lecture-style activity. This video gives an overview of the development of a music-learning game website, and is a good example of games being used to meet particular curricular goals (in this case, for music teachers).

A popular online game that is making headway in the classroom.


The same caution holds true for game technology – before diving in and creating/buying/using games as a teaching tool, give serious considerations to other Minecraft is a popular online game that teachers are more often including in the classroom.methods (Kapp, 2014). Games offer many benefits for teaching and learning, and align well with project- and problem-based learning (Sorenson et al., 2011). Games that are well aligned with curriculum offer students all the benefits of play: action, challenge, reification (cycle of creating, producing, and experimenting), socialization, achievement, self-interpretation, and pleasure (fun!) (Sorenson et al., 2011). Any time we teachers can make learning more fun, our students benefit. Games also bring a sense of agency, even to students who don’t consider themselves gamers. By watching their peers, trying out their actions, failing, and adjusting their technique, students gain a sense of achievement, agency, and competence (Sorenson et al., 2011; Kiang, 2014).

My Observations and Questions…

The biggest obstacle I ran into this time was the various system limitations and lack of tech support for game development programs, specifically Quandry2. It is a nifty little maze creator – think Choose Your Own Adventure – but it only works on Windows. The final product is exported as an .htm, so PCs or Macs can play the maze, but only Windows PCs can create the mazes – a real bummer for my all-Mac school.

Game development programs take time to learn – something teachers have little of to being with. How do we balance the desire to make entertaining, interactive games aligned with our curriculum with the time we spend on collecting and analyzing data, planning, and going to meetings?

The take home…

  • You don’t need to play games to have game dynamics (Kiang, 2014)! Therefore, I can (and should, according to my older students) include more game elements in my intervention groups. We us Class Dojo as a behavioral tracker, and the kids love seeing the “+1” pop up with their avatar.
  • I can incorporate digital storytelling beyond presenting information to my groups. The students themselves can create a short presentation, using any of the tools in the images above, to show off their learning.
  • It is ok to have lectures! Sometimes a presentation to fill in gaps in background knowledge or give learners an overview of what is coming is the best thing to do. Just keep it short!


Frazel, M. (2010). Digital storytelling guide for educators. Eugene, OR: International Society for Technology in Education.

Jamison, J. (2014). EDU625 unit 4 presentation [Prezi]. Retrieved from

Kapp, K. (2014). 10 Best practices for implementing gamification. Retrieved from

Kiang, D. (2014) Using gaming principals to engage students. Retrieved from

Morgan, H. (2014). Using digital story projects to help students improve reading and writing. Reading Improvement, 51(1), 20-26.

Myers, S. (2012, March 22). TEDxTokyoTeachers – Steve Myers – Music games in the classroom [Video file]. Retrieved from

Sørensen, B. H., Meyer, B., & Egenfeldt-Nielsen, S. (2011). Serious games in education : A global perspective. Aarhus: Aarhus University Press.


Open Sesame: Open Education

© 2010 | Flickr | CC-BY-SA | via Wylio

Open education is an attempt to broaden access to education, learning, and training.

Open Educational Resources are defined by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (2007) as “digitsed materials offered freely and openly for educators, students and self-learners to use and reuse for teaching, learning and research” (p. 31).

Open Education (OE) and Open Educational Resources (OER) have the potential to help transform elementary education. The potential cost savings associated with free and open resources is just one perk. Even if free only means the ability to modify, copy, and share materials among colleagues, schools and districts can still reduce the cost of supplies (Bonk, 2009). In this environment of slashed budgets, technology that can empower teachers to make sound instructional decisions without racking up a large bill seems to be a silver bullet. Let’s not ignore the positive impact on curriculum and teaching practices that can come with access to and input from great teachers around the world. My intervention group blog can benefit form OER in several ways. The students can seek out material to read and write about, and I can search for lesson plans about blogging, writing, and digital citizenship.

This sounds so wonderful, so what’s the catch? McNally (2012) refers to it as “the tension between public good and commercialization.” On the one hand is the altruistic free sharing of knowledge and ideas. On the other hand, we live in a capitalist country, so why shouldn’t we own and get paid for the materials we produce? For a real-life example, take the methods and materials from the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project (through Columbia Teachers College). Their workshop model is the gold standard for literacy instruction, but associated books, training, and classroom materials are expensive. Teachers pay for books, assessment collections, seminars, etc., and that money funds the Project’s research and publishing and pays instructors for the seminars. If the resources were suddenly provided at no cost, how would the Project continue? (In the interest of full disclosure, sample resources are available on the TCRWP website: There is no easy answer to this problem. Perhaps they could start small, as McNally (2012) suggests. If some seminars/classes could be live streamed for free, many, many more teachers could benefit (meaning the students will benefit too).

What ideas do you have for easing the strain between altruism and commercialization?

Bonk, C.J. (2009) The world is open – How web technology is revolutionizing education. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

McNally, M. (2012, March 22). Democratizing Access to Knowledge: Find Out What Open Educational Resources (OER) Have to Offer. Retrieved from

Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. (2007). Giving knowledge for free: The emergence of open educational resources. Retrieved from