Four Must-Attend Annual Events in Europe for Supporters of Game-Based Learning

Europe is a hotbed for Game-Based Learning (GBL). Not only is the continent home to some of the leading innovators in educational video games, but European Union leaders have offered critical support, for the use of innovative teaching techniques in classrooms across the continent, including video games.   

Every year there are a number of events where GBL experts can share their wisdom with one another and, perhaps more importantly, with others who are interested in learning about the benefits of GBL: educators, academics and policymakers.

If you fall into any of these categories, the following events are great opportunities to discover exciting new developments in learning and, just as importantly, to mix with bright people who are motivated to make a difference in education.

Virtual Worlds and Games for Serious Applications 
Typically held in September, the Virtual Worlds and Games for Serious Applications or VS-Games conference is a yearly opportunity to discuss the latest innovations in virtual worlds and their real-world applications, ranging from game-based learning for elementary school students to physical rehabilitation for those who have suffered debilitating accidents. Topics covered include game design, engineering, human-computer interaction techniques and strategies for using virtual worlds to teach.

The intimate event usually attracts between 60-80 people, the great majority of whom work in academia. However, the goal of the conference is hardly scholarly navel-gazing: these people want to share ideas and technology that will advance society. Thus, event organizers are eager to welcome those from outside of the academy who are interested in sharing their own ideas or learning from others.

European Conference on Games Based Learning
Held every October, the European Conference on Games Based Learning (ECGBL) offers a chance for anybody interested in the development of game-based learning –– scholars, game-designers, educators –– to share the newest technological innovations in the field as well as discuss how to best put educational games to use.

What the ECGBL does exceptionally well is blend the theoretical with the tangible. Those who attend the conference provide a diversity of perspectives on GBL, from scholars with big-picture ideas on how games can transform education to game-designers who may be narrowly focused on showing how their latest game can help educators teach their students a certain skill.  

By the standards of the fast-changing world of educational technology, OEB (formerly Online Educa Berlin), which typically takes place towards the end of the year, has been around a long time. Its history stretches back nearly a quarter-century, to the dawn of the online era, when cutting edge computer programs either came on a CD-ROM or a floppy disk.

Due to its institutional status, you can always count on OEB being a big deal. In recent years more than 2,000 international learning professionals have trekked to the conference to learn from scholars, policymakers and technologists about the latest developments in digital learning. The event features a wide range of exhibitions relating to educational technology, including the latest gamified learning apps, augmented reality devices, online proctoring tools and new research on best practices in digital learning.

Games and Learning Alliance Conference
The Games and Learning Alliance Conference (GALA Conf) takes place every year in December and is organized by the Serious Games Society, an organization that promotes the advancement of games that exist for purposes beyond entertainment. The three-day event features tutorials, demos of new technology or games and lectures by some of the foremost thinkers in the serious games community.

GALA is a great chance for academics who are researching game-based learning to get a first-hand look at the latest innovations in the development of educational video games and it’s also an excellent opportunity for up-and-coming developers to show their products to those who could very well become their game’s strongest proponents.