Distant Train (NETHERLANDS)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2010 Proceedings
Publication year: 2010
Pages: 1830-1836
ISBN: 978-84-613-5538-9
ISSN: 2340-1079
Conference name: 4th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 8-10 March, 2010
Location: Valencia, Spain
“Serious Games” is a term to describe a game that is played mainly for educational purposes. This does not mean that the games are not fun, entertaining. This term was originally to describe educational board and card games used in the home or the classroom. Now that gaming – both online and offline – has entered the digital age and swept across our collective media landscape, this is the perfect opportunity to use this technology and marry it with what we know about how children learn.

Here is what we know about how children learn; based on the principles of Multiple Intelligences and Brain Based learning, we that children learn by a process of absorption, by seeing, touching, hearing, smelling and most of all, by doing . By the time a child enters school, he or she comes with a defined and sophisticated knowledge base which can be used for the teacher’s and peers’ benefit.

Online learning has created a paradigm shift in the classroom, stimulating and developing a new range of skills; from image and text processing to sifting and sorting; from single-task to multi-task acquisition; from passive receipt of material to active participation in the gathering of that material. Young learners in this digital environment form a mosaic of facts and impressions from a variety of sources; they are not overwhelmed by the vastness of the internet, shrink from learning new applications nor do they draw a sharp line between the virtual and live learning experience. These “digital natives” often join the classroom with the skills they need to jump straight into the information stream; we from the analog world moan that kids today do not use libraries or read books in the same way our ancestors lamented our parents’ lack of skills churning butter or using a loom.

As these changes rock the world of education, there are profound changes occurring within the field of gaming; the same tools – Social Media, devices like the iPhone and end-user innovation – are found in the new generation of entertainment games and require the same skills to use them. Flash animation and 3-D rendering tools have made the graphics more believable; serious games offer the ability to experience situations which would otherwise be impossible to re-create in a “live” environment due to cost, safety or logistical issues. Some examples for adult applications are flight simulators to train pilots, military training and health and safety workers’ training.

This visual presentation will combine what we know about how children learn with what we know about how they play and take the first steps towards building serious learning games for primary school education, using the Social Media and Flash animation.

Fiona Passantino has been working as an eLearning expert and developer/designer since 1999. Her company, Distant Train (, was founded in 1995 and is based in the Netherlands. In 1999 she was awarded a grant from the Dutch Ministry of Education and the European Union to develop a large scale Flash-based educational tools; based on this experience, she has published and lectured at international conferences, schools and trade shows explaining her unique ideas about online learning. Today, Distant Train continues to create exciting learning environments for children and adults for clients such as the Anne Frank House, Royal Dutch National Museum of Antiquities, Wolters Noordhoff, Hasbro and the European Commission.
Serious games, online gaming, online, gaming, flash, social media, intenet, primary, education.