By Lauren Hays
Instructional and Research Librarian
MidAmerica Nazarene University
On Friday, July 31, the Center for Games & Learning at MidAmerica Nazarene University hosted a Games & Learning Conference. It was a fantastic day! You can read one attendee’s write-up here, but to sum it up, she wrote, “The whole day was packed with activity, passion, and some really fantastic ideas.” Librarians from the Northeast Kansas Library System also attended the conference, Jeanette Stromgren, Director of Osage City Public Library, found the day very worthwhile, “The conference demonstrated to me that no matter what age you are, you can improve or learn 21st century skills by playing tabletop and board games, and provided justification for purchasing and using the games in a school or library setting.” I’m thrilled attendees walked away with such positive feelings!
Lauren Hays, Co-Director of Center for Games and Learning; Glenn Wiebe, ESSDACK Presenter; Mark Hayse, Co-Director of Center for Games and Learning
My goals for the conference included a) starting conversations about potential collaborations and ways the center can support professors, librarians, and K-12 educators in using gameplay in their educational settings b) generating ideas for using games in courses, and c) meeting others in the broad education community interested in gameplay.
The opening keynote speaker for the day was Glenn Wiebe from the Educational Services and Staff Development Association of Central Kansas (ESSDACK). He discussed how games could help students learn. He included a lot of information on brain research and suggested we read the following books:
- The Game Believes in You by Greg Toppo
- Don’t Bother Me, Mom—I’m Learning! by Marc Prensky
- Libraries Got Game by Brian Mayer and Christopher Harris
Glenn’s presentation kicked off the day on a high note.
Throughout the day, there were tracks for librarians and educators. Breakout sessions included:
- how to incorporate games into your library
- teaching with games
- selecting games for curricular alignment
- information on an amazing alternate reality game created by a librarian-led team at Kansas State University
As the co-director for the Center for Games & Learning, I felt that the day was very successful. I met many passionate librarians and educators interested in using games to reach their communities and students. It is my hope that the conference ignites a larger conversation about how librarians of all types (academic, public, school, and special) can support their communities through gameplay.
About the Center for Games & Learning at MidAmerica Nazarene University
In 2014, the Institute of Museum and Library Services awarded the Mabee Library at MidAmerica Nazarene University (MNU) a Sparks! Ignition Grant to create a library-based Center for Games and Learning. Lauren Hays, Instructional and Research Librarian, and Mark Hayse PhD, Director of the Honors Program, co-direct the center. The center’s mission is the following:
- Curate an extensive game collection
- Disseminate cutting-edge research on games and learning
- Equip educators to become game designers
- Seek renewal within P-12, homeschool, and post-secondary classrooms
- Train librarians seeking to support their communities through gameplay
About the Author
Lauren Hays is the Instructional and Research Librarian and the Co-Director of the Center for Games and Learning at MidAmerica Nazarene University. She holds an undergraduate degree in education, a masters in library science, a masters in educational technology, and a graduate certificate in online teaching and learning. She is passionate about the learning process. Her professional interests include the librarian's role in informal learning and the scholarship for teaching and learning.