The pre-conference festivities for this year’s UNESCO MGIEP Transforming Education Conference for Humanity (TECH 2018) kicked off with an outdoor, beach-side presentation on neuroscience and social and emotional learning and ended with an hour-long performance by a Dehli-based rock band The Local Train. It was an unusual and unexpected opening night, and just one of many unique and memorable moments from my trip to Visakhapatnam, India.

The Local Train – attribution to UNESCO MGIEP Twitter

I’d been invited to the conference as a Catalytic Speaker for keynote panels on games and social emotional learning as well as games and mental health. The topic of the first catalytic session focused on the potential for social and emotional learning be taught by digital games. I had the honor of sharing the stage with MGIEP neuroscientist Nandini Chatterjee Singh, co-founder and CEO of Classcraft Shawn Young, assistant professor of technology, innovation and pedagogy Matt Farber, and president of Games for Change Susanna Pollack.

Pre-talk prep.

Selfie after Catalytic Session 1. From left to right: Matthew Farber, Nandini Chatterjee Singh, Susanna Pollack, Shawn Young, and Kelli Dunlap.
From left to right: Nandini Chatterjee Singh, Matthew Farber, Susanna Pollack, Shawn Young, and Kelli Dunlap.

The second keynote panel addressed questions and concerns surrounding the World Health Organization’s proposal to include Gaming Disorder as a diagnosis in the upcoming edition of the ICD-11. I again had the pleasure of sharing the stage with Shawn Young as well as game designer François Boucher-Genesse, CEO and co-founder of TeacherGaming Santeri Koivisto, and the panel was moderated by Affordance Studio co-founder Avery Rueb. [Video of the panel here].

From left to right: Avery Rueb, Kelli Dunlap, François Boucher-Genesse, Santeri Koivisto, and Shawn Young.
From left to right: Avery Rueb, Kelli Dunlap, François Boucher-Genesse, Santeri Koivisto, and Shawn Young.

And last but not least, I was delighted to co-present with Matthew Farber on boosting teen resilience through commercial video games in the classroom. We highlighted work that Matt, fellow teacher Paul Darvasi, and iThrive have been developing around using What Remains of Edith Finch to teach and explore social and emotional skills. Fostering understanding that games not designed for educational purposes can still hold educational value was a key aspect of this presentation.

Matthew Farber talking about developing SEL curriculum for What Remains of Edith Finch. (Image by UNESCO MGIEP)

The conference ended with the Vizag Declaration on Guidelines for Digital Learning, a call to establish standards for digital learning resources that best suit the educational needs of 21st century learners. The Declaration was informed by senior policy makers and ministers from 9 countries, experts in AI, data science, neuroscience, education, psychology, researchers, curriculum experts, curriculum development and digital instruction design, game design, and education technology. The Declaration will be presented to the General Conference of UNESCO in 2019 for consideration.

Kelli Dunlap, PsyD, with students at the event