Still Curious S2E5 - James Birt
Introduction
James Birt

Computer games was my entire childhood, taught me things, was my educator, everything. It was so funny to see the stigma around games. You would have the graduations, the Dean would say, 'and now here are the graduates from the Bachelor of Computer Games', and you could see the sniggering around the audience. And I went, 'why is it that there's this stigma?'

Danu Poyner

You're listening to the Still Curious Podcast with me, Danu Poyner. My guest today is James Birt who is an associate professor of Computer Games and Film, Screen, and Creative Media at Bond University in Queensland, Australia. James specializes in interactive, mixed reality experiences, sits on the International Organization for Standardization working group for augmented and virtual reality and also manages Bond University's e-sports program.

In today's episode, we discuss the tensions and interplay between formal and informal modes of learning, how games taught James important life skills and the value of innovation and entrepreneurship in education.

James Birt

It's about creating and making. That's the key that creativity, that spark of wanting to do. That's not something that I think can be formalized in teaching that well.

Danu Poyner

James observes why many kids who love school in their early years fall out of love with it. Once they get to high school.

James Birt

If it was a game, we would say there's something wrong with the onboarding, we've got to rebuild the tutorial.

Danu Poyner

And unpacks the pedagogical value of game jams and hackathons.

James Birt

You're essentially doing authentic examination under real world conditions, doing direct application of knowledge. If you do not know what you're doing, you ain't going to win the game jam.

Danu Poyner

We talk about how James uses virtual reality in the classroom, the parallels between e-sports and regular sports, how games helped James, when he broke his back, the importance of standards and governance, and ultimately why James believes so strongly in formalized education.

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