Textbooks published on trees are on the way out in Texas, California and the rest of the country and world. The Textbook industry is hoping they will be replaced with on-line versions spruced up with animated graphics. However, it is likely that on-line textbooks will be no more successful than magazine advertising that morphed into banner ads. Linear content with multiple choice answers at the end of each chapter, won't work. And as with banner ads, on the Internet you can measure that they don't work. What does work? Socially networked GAMES. The question for this panel is whether games will replace traditional educational media, and what those games look like. What will the teachers manual look like? How will learning be assessed? What happens to the classroom, or the school itself, when on-line learning is available 24/7? What does the PTA look like if parents can play along with their kids? What happens to the distinction between vocational and instructional if playing games is equivalent to performing a virtual job or service? And what happens to the college admission process, if instead of taking a standardized aptitude test, students have been playing a complex game for years. In fact, what happens to colleges and universities where lecture halls still reign supreme? There is a revolution underway, driven by kids and the games they play. Will the educational system adapt or die? We will see (and discuss).
Alan has spent the last 25 years at the intersection of entertainment, technology and social entrepreneurship. He is currently Founder and President of E-Line Media, a publisher of digital entertainment that engages, educates and empowers, with a core focus on computer/video games. Prior to E-Line, Alan was CEO of netomat, a leader in mobile-web community solutions. netomat originated as network-based art project and was selected as a Technology Pioneer at the 2007 World Economic Forum at Davos. Before netomat, Alan was member of the executive management team that rebuilt game publisher Activision from bankruptcy into an industry leader. At Activision, Alan served as Senior Vice President of Activision Studios where he supervised all product development at the company's Los Angeles studios. Titles released under Alan's leadership include Civilization: Call to Power, Asteroids, Muppet Treasure Island, Spycraft, Pitfall, Zork and Tony Hawk Skateboarding. Before joining Activision, Alan spent nearly ten years in the film industry where he worked in a variety of development, production and post-production positions with credits on numerous feature film and documentaries. Alan currently serves on the Board of Directors of FilmAid International and on the Advisory Boards of Creative Capital, Global Kids, We Are Family Foundation, Startl and the Joan Ganz Cooney Center For Educational Media and Research (Sesame Workshop). He is also on the Advisory Board and the former Chairman of the Board of Games for Change, the leading global advocate for computer and video games in the public interest.
Dr. James M. Bower Ph.D. is the founder, Chairman, and CEO of Numedeon Inc. which in 1999 launched Whyville.net as an online gaming and simulation-based virtual learning community. Whyville.net currently has more than 6 million registered users who spend on average more than 35 minutes on the site per login. Dr. Bower is a computational neurobiologist at the Research Imaging Center of the University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio (bower-lab.org) and has served on education and technology advisory committees for the National Academy of Sciences, the National Science Foundation, the Ford Foundation, and the National Institutes of Health.
As Vice President of PBS KIDS Interactive, Sara DeWitt oversees day-to-day development of PBS’ Internet sites for kids and families, including the Webby-award winning pbskids.org.
DeWitt has led aggressive strategies to build connected and immersive experiences on PBS’ children’s Web sites. This includes the preschool (pbskids.org) and early elementary school age (pbskidsgo.org) Web sites, which now serve nearly 85 million video streams monthly, and offer more than 500 games and activities. PBS’s children’s sites reach an average of 9 million unique visitors per month.
DeWitt has also been instrumental in launching PBS KIDS Island (pbskids.org/read) – a literacy-based Web site for families and teachers that is part of PBS KIDS Raising Readers, a project funded by the U.S. Department of Education’s Ready To Learn grant to help children ages 2-8 from low-income families learn to read. DeWitt also assists in the development of content on new platforms, including PBS KIDS iPhone apps (pbskids.org/mobile) and PBS KIDS Interactive White Board games (pbskids.org/whiteboard).
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