Day three’s shining stars included Alan Gershenfield’s lecture on the widespread adoption of gaming beyond entertainment. As a skeptic of gaming for purposes in both civic engagement and education, I accompanied my colleague Adam Jones. Gershenfield piqued my interest talking about ways even the White House are taking a “gamified” approach to information dissemination and behavior change. His study discovered the need to form a double-bottom-line company focused upon both financial success and outcomes in social good through understanding gaming theory’s role and impact on our society.
Gaming In Education vs Gaming In Learning
Following the session, I ran into SmartBrief’s Tom Whitby, moderator of the exceptional Tuesday night #EdChat, and he made a strong point to consider: that the session was more about gaming in education and not about gaming in learning. Standing in the hallway, I had to ponder that for a moment, but realized SXSWedu was more focused not business and construct of education and less so on actual pedagogy–a fine thing, just a realization.
Big Ed Data Merger
Heading over to the inBloom lounge to nosh on more of their free coffee and sundry items (which are certainly putting a dent in the ad hoc cash canteen setup by the Hilton near the escalators), I’m thoroughly intrigued with what I’m calling the “Big Ed Data Merger” (BEDM). inBloom’s $100M from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has attracted partners far and wide to share their data constructs.
In my experience there is a significant question being left not dealt with: what if the data being analyzed is the wrong data; inaccurate data? Teach For America’s Director of Design and Technology, Kevin Tame brought this around for me in a critical way noticing that many of these BEDM services are parsing, visualizing, and reporting on data in a manner contrary to the basics of the scientific method. Instead of posing an hypothesis then gathering data, the BEDM movement is doing it the other way around. Essentially, hypotheses are being masqueraded as analysis. Such an indictment requires one thing: pondering it more deeply at an Austin eatery.
More Mortar Than Bricks
And this is how at the end of day three I realized the real value of SXSWedu. It’s more about the mortar than the bricks. It’s about the conversations in the Hilton lobby, or Easy Tiger, Pelon’s, the smoky confines of Iron Works BBQ, or countless other inviting joints you could hit just by swinging your conference name badge. If you leave with any business cards that are still your own, you’re not doing it right. SXSWedu is about the conversation-laden networking fueled by the prompts derived from listening to one of the who’s who in education, coupled with some seriously high quality food and beverage. This is SXSWedu.