2017 Update

2016 was a busy year for me professionally (see my ‘regular’ teaching blog for details) with courses, new jobs, writing articles, and conferences – barely enough time to blog meaning my plans for ELT Sandbox were not all realised.

Nevertheless, here I am again making plans. Last year, the wicked combo of work and study filled up most of my time but I have no current intention of taking any academic or intensive courses over the next 12 months and plan to invest the extra time that will free up here. With the site now moved to WordPress and me feeling settled in already, this is what I have in mind for the year ahead:

Explore

This is what ‘Sandbox Games’ are all about – exploring, experimenting, and finding the best ways to succeed. I will continue to do these things in relation to game-based learning. As stated in a recent post, my thoughts and approach to this area have been developing over the last year as I move away from classic language learning activities and think more about the unique affordances that games have to offer and how they can best be harnessed for students’ language development.

I am also open to exploring other ideas. I have made no secret of my views on gamification and I have yet to be convinced by the potential of Virtual Reality. However, I will still be investigating those areas to see if anything or anyone can change my mind!

Play

One knock-on effect of being so busy this past year was that there was little time to actually play games! This meant little time to consider their potential uses for language learners and blog about them. Next year, I will have more time for play (especially now that I am on a schedule when I am home alone a couple of mornings a week) so I hope to include a greater range of examples and suggestions for using games here.

This will also leave me with more time to produce content for my YouTube channel. I have made a few videos in the past but not consistently. I will be aiming for regular uploads throughout the new year.

Learn

I said ‘no academic or intensive courses’ but I didn’t mean no courses at all! First of all will be the Minecraft MOOC as part of the EVO sessions in January/February. Now in its third year, this is an online programme focusing on Minecraft for language teachers and so  is definitely worth your time. Expect a series of posts about the course and the game early in 2017 as a result.

I will admit to being a bit rusty in Minecraft having not played since my after school gaming club in Gabon finished. I will therefore be re-learning the game in the early part of the year making use of the in-house expert (my son) and the Minecraft Manuals we have available (thus showing my age by going for print books instead of YouTube videos!)

I also want to take my learning and investigations beyond ELT and into the worlds of game design and game theory. I have a backlog of books and articles to read on those topics (with reflections to come here on the blog) and I am also currently enrolled on a MOOC with edx called Video Game Design History. We ‘ll see where these new paths lead.

Review

All the above would mean little without some review and reflection and that is exactly what this blog is for. I will review the games I play, the things I read, and the experiences I have. This will inform further exploration, experimentation and review in a circle of learning and development. I hope you’ll join me for the ride!

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