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'All Roads Lead to Mobile'

Hello from the Serious Play Conference in beautiful Redmond, Wash., right outside of Seattle. I will be spending the next two days here, bringing you the latest on educational gaming.

The morning kicked off with a keynote about different platform options for games. Panelists discussed the best platform options for various markets, including corporate, government, and education. Most agreed that while the mobile sector is growing rapidly, PCs are still the most ubiquitous platform for games. Sam Adkins, the chief research officer for Ambient Insight, a market research company, said that "all roads lead to mobile, but the PC isn't going anywhere."

The ratio of students to PCs in schools is 3:1, Adkins said, while the ratio of students to mobile devices in schools is 63:1. "Mobile edu-games are outselling web-console games," he said, but very few manufacturers of such games are actually turning a profit. The vast majority, said Adkins, are just about breaking even.

That 63:1 figure may be true, said Joan Mazur, a professor at the University of Kentucky, but most likely refers to school sanctioned mobile devices vs. the ratio of students who actually have mobile devices and bring them to school.

Mazur lead a session this morning discussing her work with the Digital Game-based Learning P-20 Innovation Lab at the University of Kentucky. Last fall, Mazur teamed up with teachers in Danville Independent School District in Kentucky to teach 80 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders how to create games using Scratch, a programming language to build animations and games that was created by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Media Lab. After 5 weeks of 4-hour Saturday classes, the students went back to their respective schools and co-taught lessons with their teachers about the games.

This year, the program is expanding from three teachers and classrooms to 12.

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