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ISTE 2013 – Keynote Session – Jane McGonigal

June 23, 2013

You know ISTE is getting started when you are waiting in line for 40 minutes for the first keynote!

But what a great wait! Had a chance to meet Andrea Stringer from Australia, and Howard from Texas! What a great visit with people from all over the world. Although I think they are wondering about Canadians now!

Got some great seats in the keynote and met up with Cameron


Great Country band to start with! All girls except the drummer. (He has a beard) Fantastic country music, and very nice and loud. Awesome! Everyone around was really impressed! And then we found out they were a group of High School Students who had been playing together for about a year! Incredible!

Starting up with Brian Lewis and Kecia Ray. Setup at a table like a talk show!


Brian and Kecia thanked the departing Board members and also the new Board members for all the work they do and have done and will continue to do. It’s pretty amazing how much time and energy everyone puts in. Really speaks to the calibre of the ISTE organization. Apparently we started a little late as we’re over capacity, and had to add another 3000 chairs, and there still weren’t enough!

We’re about to find out about the ISTE Brand changes. A lot of time and effort has gone into reviewing and announcing the new branding and look. Workshops and meetings all over the world happened to help provide insight into ISTE.

Here comes the new vision:

And the new mission:

And now the new brand visuals?

So as soon as the new visuals are unleashed, out come two board members with a T-shirt gun and shooting and tossing T-shirts with the new logos all over the place! And meanwhile the band is providing all the background music! ISTE presented the new logo with a lot of flare!

Brian brought out a book called The American Rural School? which was written a very very long time ago, probably 100 years, and it talked about issues that continue to plague our schools today, including providing professional development and funding school facilities – among many other things.

Now introducing Jane McGonigal:

Here’s Jane!

Jane’s book: Reality is Broken

Jane suggested that there are now 1 Billion Gamers in the world, those who spend at least an hour a day, on a connected device, playing games. Some folks agree some folks disagree, maybe they think they should be doing something else.

Jane quoted Joi Ito, Director MIT Media Lab:

“I don’t think education is about centralized instruction anymore. Rather, it is the process of establishing oneself as a node in a broad network of distributed creativity.”

Some of the
Apparently we spend about 300 million minutes a day playing angry Birds, which is about 400,000 years of time!

Call of Duty – average player spends 170 hours a year or 1 month of full time work, every year.

1 in 4 players called in sick to stay home and play the new Call of Duty on launch day.

Gallup suggests that the longer you stay in school, the less engaged you become. 76% of elementary school students are engaged, while only 44% of high school students are engaged.

Most college students spend more hours playing videogames than in a classroom!

There are 7+ billion hours a week…. of maximum engagement.

It’s estimated that it took about 100 million hours to build Wikipedia’s content. That’s only 3 weeks of Angry Birds play, and only 7 days of Call of Duty Play. So we could build wikipedia again and again and again. So there is a lot of potential in there.

In the U.S., 99% of boys under 18 and 94% of girls play regularly – 13 and 8 hours a week.

92% of two-year olds play games!

Why are there 7 billion hours going into gaming? Why do gamers play games? To feel the following emotions:20130623-182505.jpg

3 out of 4 gaming hours are played on co-operative games.

Jane refers to gamers as “Super-Empowered Hopeful Individuals” According to the research, if you can experience three positive emotions every day, you’ll overall do better in all things. Any sort of positive emotion counts – get from hugging your dog (huh?) listening to great music, or play games.

If you go higher than 12:1 positive emotions to negative emotions – all the people around you start to hate you, so it’s a negative impact.

Brian Sutton Smith suggests “The opposite of play isn’t work – it’s depression.”

Studies appear to suggest that all the best effects of games happen to the gamer in control, not folks who are just watching. Jane brought up some images of the activity in the brain and the regions that light up, and how much more active different centres of the brain indicate activity when actively involved in games, as opposed to those who are in passive mode only. Since we choose the goal, we don’t feel as negative when we fail, as when someone else sets the goal for us. Perhaps games are the perfect storm for learning as they really make the hippocampus go, which is what helps learn and recall.

Jane is getting us all to do Massively Multiplayer Thumb Wars. We had the entire room connected, so that all thumbs were connected! What a blast! Everyone had a lot of fun wrestling two thumbs at once with different players – many thumbs put together. 4-6-8 in a set of hands. Very well done Jane! Great job! Jane figures we set an all-time world record in numbers of players!

Some projects Jane is involved in:
If you have a problem, and you can’t solve it alone, evoke it. – African proverb
Graphic novel on the site how young people, from Africa, would ultimately save the world. They continued to ask kids about their “origin” story, who would they work with, who would they collaborate with, who would they find funding from, etc. Each week also had a mission, tied to the story. And they had to do something for one person in the real world. If you completed all 10 quests and all 10 missions in 10 weeks, the World Bank certified you as a Social Innovator. Students created real businesses as a result.

New York Public Library
Created a game for New York Public Library
82% of Americans want to someday write a book. Discovered the library had eight levels under ground. You start on the lowest level. When you are finished you have a book that can be fully published.

Launched by having 500 players stay overnight. Had 10,000 applicants. No one was allowed out until the book was written. Players had to find 100 artifacts that helped change the world. Once they found the object, they had to scan the QR code, which demonstrated they had a face-to-face moment with history. Even world changing people had doubt, insecurity. After they had the encounter with history – they had to do an artifact story. Had a book binder in who would bind the book as it was written. At 3 AM they had hundreds of young people playing the game. By 6 AM, they had 1184 stories, by 500 authors.

Book was called 100 ways to make history – Volume 1 – May 20, 2011.

Library was originally going to put the book in the general collection, but put in the rare books collection – next to the Declaration of Independence.

Jane finished up by reminding all of us of the 10 positive emotions, and asked us to find ways to invoke them in the people around us – changing the world.

Todd’s Note: Jane was an ordinary speaker, with extraordinary ideas and impact. She was incredibly thoughtful and believes and has demonstrated that games can change the world – the real-world. I appreciated that she had empathy for those who didn’t think games were great, and was respectful of their opinions and thoughts. But this didn’t slow her down or stop her from trying to change the world. And her foundation really rested on using games to evoke positive emotions in people, thereby encouraging them to change the world in a positive way. Jane was fantastic, definitely one of the best keynote speakers I have ever listened to, and I eagerly look forward to picking up her book. Thanks Jane for changing the world, and encouraging us to do likewise.

As we were leaving, we had the Urban 15 band and dancers providing the music and entertainment!



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