Play Make Learn Announces Benjamin Stokes as the 2021 Conference Keynote Speaker

Play Make Learn
Dr. Benjamin Stokes, Play Make Learn Keynote
Dr. Benjamin Stokes

The Play Make Learn Conference will host keynote speaker Benjamin Stokes during the virtual event held August 5–6, 2021. Stokes, author of “Locally Played: Real-World Games for Stronger Places and Communities,” is an assistant professor at American University (AU) where he directs The Playful City Lab. His research investigates civic media, community engagement, and neighborhood empowerment.

Play Make Learn (PML) is a gathering of researchers, game designers, makers, artists, and educators. The 2021 virtual conference is a place for collaboration and discovery in the design, research, and practice of gaming, makerspaces, classrooms, and the arts. The conference will feature a keynote speaker, concurrent sessions, special access to recorded content, and more.

“Play Make Learn is one of the only places I know where practicing teachers, researchers, designers, and policy makers are talking together about games, making, and the arts as part of one conversation,” said David Gagnon, Play Make Learn committee member and founder and director of Field Day Learning Games. “For these ideas, the whole is greater than the parts!”

For this year’s conference, participants are invited to submit entries for two competitions—the GEE! Learning Game Award and the Click Youth Media Challenge. Submissions are due June 1, 2021.

  • GEE! Learning Game Award: Game designers are invited to submit video games that are fun, educational, and novel.
  • Click Youth Media Challenge: PBS Wisconsin Education and Play Make Learn invite students in grades K-12 to submit their media productions which will be made available to view during the conference. Prizes will be awarded for top entries. Students and media educators will be invited to participate in a panel with an audience of experts.

According to YJ Kim, an assistant professor in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, Play Make Learn appeals to a broad range of audiences.

“PML allows us to think globally and act locally,” said Kim. “That is, it has the spirit of being true to Wisconsin and putting Wisconsin at the center, yet the creative ideas and innovations have broader implications beyond Wisconsin. PML is one of the living examples of the Wisconsin idea: Education should influence people’s lives beyond the boundaries of the classroom.”

At the conclusion of a school year marked by widespread virtual learning, the mission of Play Make Learn is even more salient.

“In the time of COVID, it is more important than ever to think about how we can create dynamic, engaging learning environments in virtual and informal spaces,” said Rich Halverson, Associate Dean for Innovation, Outreach, and Partnerships and Professor of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis.

The 2021 Play Make Learn Conference will take place August 5–6. An early registration discount is available for the first 100 registrants. Visit our website to learn more!