Author: Nadina Cholakova

Nadina Cholakova and Atanas Cholakov represented Big Brothers Big Sisters of Bulgaria Association during the “Game ON” seminar held between 3rd and 12th November 2019 in Slettestrand, Denmark. The seminar is funded by Key Action 1 of the “Erasmus+” Program.

From the 3rd until the 12th of November near the small town Aalborg in Denmark was held a seminar on a completely new and innovative topic “Facilitating learning through gaming”.

The topic engages both teachers and youth workers, who works in the sphere of non – formal education. The Danish team has successfully gathered youth workers and gamers at one place in order to exchange knowledge and experience. The most important task for the gamers was to involve us into the world of video games and to show us how funny and interesting they could be. On the other hand, the youth workers were supposed to introduce and discuss the good and bad sides of playing video games.

We were separated into 7 small teams that consisted of both gamers and youth workers with no gaming experience. Only after the seminar has begun, it came to us the final goal – to write a guideline for implementation of video games into non – formal education. Each of the seven teams had to write a chapter for the guidelines and to offer at least one workshop for implementing their ideas. These were the seven chapters of the book (guideline):

  1. Introduction, Ethics, Age appropriate games and Fun learning environment (Background)
  2. Stress and anger management
  3. Learning foreign languages
  4. What to be careful about
  5. Problem management
  6. Interculturality
  7. Community and Empathy

Every day, each of the topics was looked through different aspect. The topics were analyzed through the perspective of social competences, creativity, healthy lifestyle, strategic thinking, entrepreneurship, leadership and participation. This way each group was supposed to edit their chapter and add more information to it, according to the daily task. This helped us to present the topics throughout many different perspectives. And this was the “dirty job” and “hard work”. Which as a matter of fact, was extremely interesting and pulled us together. In between the hard work there were a lot of energizers, games, deabtes and discussions. A movie night was organized for us, which was connected to the topic of the seminar. One pf the most important things were our trainers. They were just great! They managed to make us work as a team and helped us look and think in completely different directions. Their way of work, communication with us and their approach to us was significant and was of big importance for the final result.

One of the most interesting things was our visit to the library in Aalborg. There we were shown a very special place that the librarians had organized for gamers. Every kid can go there and play video games, use the computer or playstation for free. After the library we went to an internet café. They boys who work there showed us around and then answered all of our questions about their work, video games and e-sports in general.

During those ten days there were two surprises for us. One of them was the “Danish Christmas”, when we had hot wine and a typical Danish Christmas dessert. And the second one was the celebration of St. Martin’s day, when we had a very special festive dinner.

The participants themselves organized gaming workshops in the evenings and a very interesting trip to a bunker from the II World War.

Ten days later the result was on sight. We did it! A guideline, a whole book written by us! “Guideline and best practices on how to use gaming as a tool in non-formal education”.*

After this amazing experience, I would entitle the guideline “How to make unforgettable memories and make new friends in ten days”.

*You can find the guidelines here.