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A Guide to Game-Based Learning at SXSW EDU 2020

Filament Games | Educational Game Developer

We can hardly believe it ourselves – but SXSW EDU 2020 is two weeks away! 🤯

Mind Blown!

(Image source: Giphy)

Held on the days leading up to the famed interactive media, film, and music conference South By Southwest (SXSW), SXSW EDU is one of the largest education-focused events of the year – offering attendees the opportunity to participate in future-focused sessions, workshops, mentorship and networking opportunities, and so much more. Seriously, go check out this year’s full event schedule – it’s absolutely massive!

With a near-endless number of sessions, panels, and workshops to choose from, it can be easy to become overwhelmed when mapping out your SXSW EDU experience. But have no fear, friends of Filament – to aid in your planning, we’ve assembled the following list of all the game-based learning, esports in education, and AR/VR for learning sessions offered at this year’s event!

Check out the session descriptions from the SXSW EDU program below, and be sure to give us a shout-out on Facebook or Twitter if you found our list to be helpful:

Game-Based Learning

Arts & Tech to Empower Young Creative Changers (Mar 11, 2020) | 2:00PM – 3:00PM)

Is it possible to raise great talents from the most vulnerable areas in a city? How can we use arts and technology for project-based learning? From the outskirts of Brazil, we bring lessons from two award-winning educational laboratories: NAVE and Oi Kabum! Lab. Focused on youths from low-income urban areas in Brazil, these initiatives focus on students’ autonomy, critical thinking and social involvement. Its open-source methodologies will be launched @SXSW20, ready to be applied at your school.

Speakers: Sara Crosman (Oi Futuro Institute), Fabiano Mixo (Vild Studio), Carla Uller (Oi Futuro)

Beyond Engagement: Lessons From Games in the Class (Mar 10, 2020 | 3:00PM – 3:30PM)

Games have been in the classroom for a long time (Oregon Trail, anyone?), but we’re still in the early days of understanding their potential for learning outcomes. In this session, we’ll hear from 3 experts who will share how games are uniquely positioned to do skill transfer, assessment and enable personalized learning.

Speakers: Tammy Kwan (Cognitive ToyBox), Clarence Tan (Boddle Learning), Lindsey Tropf (Immersed Games)

Be Part of the Learning Revolution with Fortnite (Mar 10, 2020 | 11:00AM – 11:30AM)

Fortnite is invading education! Teachers are making learning relevant and leveraging student expertise by assigning projects from history to game design using Fortnite as a sandbox. Interactive 3D can bring subjects to life, and it’s not just about games: students learn skills they will need in the future as our immersive world evolves. From medical to manufacturing, interacting in 3D will be the norm. Meet our rockstar teachers who are doing this now as they share their successes and challenges.

Speakers: Steve Isaacs (William Annin Highschool), Nick Pant (Dayton Regional STEM School), Katie Wright (Redding Middle School)

The Future Is Now: Games as Assessment (Mar 11, 2020 | 5:00PM – 6:00PM)

There exists a growing body of research suggesting the efficacy of games as tools for learning and perhaps even more interestingly as tools for assessment. Drawing on decades of experience in the commercial game-based learning industry, panelists will share their perspective on how games can not only cultivate, but assess future-facing skills (popularly known as 21st-century skills) through the lens of five unique learning games.

Speakers: Dan White (Filament Games), Scot Osterweil (MIT), Peter Stidwill (FableVision Studios)

Gamification Mechanics for Adult Learning (Mar 12, 2020 | 12:30PM – 2:00PM)

Find yourself wondering, why all the fuss over gamification? We’re here to help you sift through the buzzwords and use gamification mechanics in a way that drives towards and never distracts from learning. In this highly interactive workshop, we’ll review several popular game mechanics, and you’ll get the chance to play, design and apply them to real challenges you and your learners are facing. Throughout, we’ll share examples from industry and higher ed.

Speakers: Jesse Harris (Virgin Orbit), Laura Pickel (Lyft)

Radical Joy: Learning Through Games & Play (Mar 12, 2020 | 12:30PM – 2:00PM)

As educators, one of our greatest resources is the human impulse to play. Participants in this workshop will explore and cultivate the use of playfulness as a tool for engaging and enhancing student experience. Through a series of interactive games and community building activities, participants will both heighten their own sense of playfulness and develop strategies for incorporating measurable moments of joy into all – yes, all! – curriculum, content, and classrooms.

Speaker: Mycah Hogan (Achievement First)

Teens as Changemakers: SEL Through Game Design (Mar 9, 2020 | 12:30PM – 1:30PM)

Teens need social and emotional skills to thrive, but most SEL offerings for teens lack impact. We present a case study of a field-tested method for engaging teens in SEL and social justice using game design as experiential learning. Game Design Studio, co-created with teens, invites them to choose topics they want to explore and design for the changes they want to make in the world. Analog and digital gameplay and design become vehicles for reflection, self-expression, and change.

Speakers: Matthew Farber (University of Northern Colorado), Susan Jane (iThrive Games Foundation), Susan Rivers (iThrive Games Foundation)

Training a Workforce for an Immersive World (Mar 12, 2020 | 11:30AM – 11:50AM)

Interactive 3D is replacing images and video to become the new norm for how we work and communicate. As this technology is applied in health care, architecture, construction, manufacturing, and retail, new jobs are being created and new skills are being required by employers. In this session we will discuss findings from a recent Burning Glass report on the growing demand for real-time 3D skills and how we prepare students and the future workforce for jobs in an immersive world.

Speaker: Lisa Tenorio (Epic Games)

XR for Learning

AR History Lessons in the Streets & Classroom (Mar 10, 2020 | 1:00PM – 1:30PM)

Our textbooks, curricula, and public spaces tend to focus on the history of white men. With augmented reality, we can highlight underrepresented narratives in the classroom and in the streets through public interventions. The goal is to empower students to see themselves represented through the technology of tomorrow while hitting curricular standards. Multiplayer AR history lessons create space for fun and interactive ways for students to learn about stories of women and people of color.

Speakers: Idris Brewster (Movers & Shakers NYC), Glenn Cantave (Movers & Shakers NYC)

Augmented Learning for Diverse Students (Mar 11, 2020 | 2:00PM – 2:30PM)

Augmented Learning looks to improve the experience of how students learn, and how they view learning. In this hands-on demo you take the role of the student, and will get a chance to see how the addition of a visual, a closed caption transcript of what is spoken in the classroom environment, can improve your experience. This application is part of a research project looking to assist those with a specific learning disability, hard of hearing, or studying internationally.

Speaker: Renée Stevens (Syracuse University)

Designing Educational Engagement with XR (Mar 11, 2020 | 2:30PM – 4:00PM)

In this workshop, discussion will begin with a brief overview of XR and its applications within education. Teams of participants will develop ideas based on specific educational challenges that lead to appropriate XR solutions. Teams will briefly share out their solutions with everyone. Next, presenters will share how we solved each challenge at NC State, including pitfalls and successes. Attendees will leave with an increased awareness of XR solutions and the inspiration to explore them!

Speakers: Cathi Dunnagan (NC State University – DELTA), Rich Gurnsey (NC State University – DELTA), Benjamin Huckaby (NC State University – DELTA)

Designing Information Delivery of the Future (Mar 9, 2020 | 12:30PM – 12:50PM) 

This is a story of how artificial intelligence, augmented reality, and virtual reality can transform the academic library into a hybrid space. The library becomes a network of digital connections between physical objects. A network that recommends resources based on personal needs, links print resources to multimedia, embeds interactive tools to enhance knowledge, turns the focus on making discoveries rather than looking for them, and so on. And while we’re at it, we’ll fight fake news too.

Speaker: Cathryn Copper (Virginia Tech)

How VR Helps Struggling Early Readers (Mar 9, 2020 | 3:30PM – 3:50PM)

Virtual-reality technologies are increasingly being used to both diagnose and treat vision-related dysfunctions as well as early reading challenges for the youngest of children. Come and explore the medical connection between a child’s inability to see virtual reality comfortably and their ability to learn how to read. And if you struggle with VR or screen displays as an adult, come find out why, and what you can do about it.

Speaker: Len Scrogan (University of Colorado Denver)

Meaningful Play with Virtual Technology in School (Mar 10, 2020 | 11:00AM – 12:00PM)

Virtual Reality can be a powerful tool in the classroom and there are lessons to be learned from teachers, developers and researchers who are all working directly with students. Amidst the benefits of VR, there are challenges as well and we’d like to discuss both! Come learn about piloting and implementing VR in schools, the importance of framing those experiences, and how to evaluate whether or not VR is truly bringing value to learners.

Speakers: Lisa Castaneda (Foundry10), Marie Graham (Mount Vernon School), Marie Hamlett (Educate LLC), Jessica Ochoa Hendrix (Killer Snails)

The Storyplex: How Immersive Narrative Has Evolved (Mar 12, 2020 | 12:30PM – 12:50PM)

Traditional “storytelling” doesn’t work in immersive environments because they are fundamentally different from classical mediums. Based on over 20 years of research, development, and production in both traditional and immersive mediums, Stephanie Riggs presents a new paradigm for creating narratives in immersive technology that more accurately reflects the future of the medium: The Storyplex.

Speaker: Stephanie Riggs (Refinery29)

VR Remix Party 2.0 (Mar 9, 2020 | 12:30PM – 2:00PM)

VR Remix Party 2.0 builds on lessons learned over the past year of implementing E4 Youth’s VR storytelling curriculum across Central Texas. We’ll provide an improved curriculum framework for educators to leverage open source tools and engage youth to create compelling immersive stories about their neighborhoods. We’ll also explore how this process has led to our latest endeavor Austin Digital Heritage Project–a business model that employs youth to collect and curate the oral histories of their neighborhoods.

Speakers: Robert Friedman (Permanent), Humberto Perez (E4 Youth), Carl Settles (E4 Youth)

XR Adventures for Students with Super-Abilities (Mar 9, 2020 | 5:00PM – 5:20PM)

It’s dangerous to go alone. Take these XR tools! We’ll explore how VR provides virtual mindfulness and relaxation strategies to be used as prevention as well as crisis intervention to address students’ emotional needs, to enhance self-regulation and increase student availability for instruction. You’ll learn how to leverage interactive 360 to design choose your own adventure experiences. Before ending our journey, we’ll explore how to create inclusive AR apps for students with super-abilities.

Speaker: Derek Ritzenberg (Montgomery County Public Schools)

Esports in Education

CTE & Esports: Gaming Your Way to Work (Mar 10, 2020 | 11:00AM – 11:30AM)

Emerging research has shown not only that esports (competitive video game play) are not the specific cause of mental disorders or social isolation, but that playing video games is a smart, engaging activity that stimulates brain development and awakens career curiosity. This session will demonstrate current uses of esports-infused curricula at various middle and high schools across the US, with particular focus on a disruptive format or embedding CTE and state-approved elements into pathways.

Speakers: Laylah Bulman (Florida Scholastic Esports League), Gerald Solomon (Samueli Foundation), Tom Turner (North America Scholastic Esports Federation)

Esports Goes to College (The Higher Ed Geek Podcast) (Mar 12, 2020 | 12:30PM – 1:30PM)

Esports is a booming global industry that is now starting to impact higher education. Campuses are developing teams, implementing support structures, and outlining learning as well as career outcomes for students. As a digital industry, collegiate esports promises to equalize the playing field for students of all backgrounds, and allow for engagement opportunities for resident, commuter, and online students alike. Learn how collegiate esports has taken shape, and what it means for students.

Speakers: Eugene Frier (Texas Wesleyan University), Dustin Ramsdell (Noodle Partners), Dylan Wray (University of North Texas)

Evaluating Impact: A Case for Esports in Schools (Mar 12, 2020 | 10:30AM – 12:00PM)

You’re thinking about or have started an esports program at your school or library. Now what? Led by industry experts and educators, this workshop aims to prepare teachers and librarians by helping them explore how they can implement or expand on their esports initiatives and examine free tools they can use to evaluate the efficacy of their programs.

Speakers: Steve Isaacs (William Annin Highschool), Will Partin (Liminal Esports), Mike Scanlon (Foundry10)

Evidence-Based Evaluations of Esports in Education (Mar 11, 2020 | 11:00AM – 12:00PM)

For the past year, this group of partners has been funded by the US Department of Education to conduct critical research on scholastic esports programs. This research has resulted in new methods and procedures that can be used to evaluate esports and gaming programs that are rapidly growing in schools and libraries across the nation. Open questions related to efficacy, inclusivity, and access barriers can now be explored by educators in their own classrooms and libraries using these procedures.


So which SXSW EDU 2020 sessions or opportunities are you most looking forward to? Sound off on our Facebook or Twitter – maybe we’ll even see you there!

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