Keynote :: Alexandra Humphreys

VWBPE 2023 Keynote
Presented: March 24, 2023
Title: Playing with Reality: Gamifying Education in the COVID-19 Pandemic
Presenter: Alexandra Humphreys / heddwen1
Introduction: Lorraine Mockford / LoriVonne Lustre

Alexandra Humphreys

As schools closed and home-schooling began, suddenly there were half a billion students out of school because of Covid. Remote learning looked very different depending on your location, school, teachers, access to internet and home life. When writing ‘Playing With Reality: Gaming In a Pandemic’, I spoke to educators in the UK, US and Australia about how they used virtual worlds for education over the pandemic.

In this talk, I share those different experiences – from primary schools to universities and teachers of neurodivergent children – highlighting some who learnt to teach in virtual worlds for the first time, those who had already benefited from teaching within games, and the children who took the lead in gamifying learning. Some believe we weren’t prepared for such a big shift to digital – I’ll explore these views and ask whether the pandemic has changed the way we use virtual learning, or were game worlds merely a means to an end until lockdowns ended?

SL: HeddWen1
A familiar face across the UK, Alex is a bubbly and creative presenter, journalist and author, with a wealth of live broadcasting experience – most notably with CBBC’s children’s news programme, Newsround, BBC news programmes and weather on the Welsh language channel, S4C.
Born in Chester, Alex grew up in Flintshire in Wales with a Welsh language education. After studying music in Cardiff University, Alex joined the office of the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, before moving into broadcasting, where her programme credits include CBBC’s flagship programme, Blue Peter and the BBC Proms.
In 2014, Alex began producing and presenting Ffeil: a Welsh-language children’s TV news programme, produced by BBC Wales. This led to her co-presenting S4C’s primetime entertainment series, Band Cymru, along with co-presenting coverage of the world’s biggest youth festival – the Urdd Eisteddfod.
Alex became one of the presenters on CBBC’s Newsround, a role which included interviewing countless celebrities, such as The Vamps and Olly Murs. Since then, Alex has worked as Senior Journalist Reporter on BBC1’s Wales Live, has reported for Network BBC Breakfast on BBC1, the BBC’s technology programme, Click, and with her passion for Classical music, presented BBC Radio Cymru’s live broadcast of the Welsh Proms’ Opening Night and has also been the roving reporter at Proms in the Park for BBC Radio Wales.
Passionate about gaming, Alex has presented several radio documentaries on the subject, including for BBC Radio 4: ‘What’s in a Game?’ and the BBC World Service: ‘In the Studio: World of Warcraft’. At the end of 2022, Alex became an author with the publication of her first non-fiction book, ‘Playing with Reality: Gaming in a Pandemic’, which explores how the gaming industry thrived and evolved over the pandemic years, along with player and expert stories.
Alex also hosts live events, which has included the CBeebies Live Stage with Dr Ranj, BAFTA Q&A sessions, and an evening with gaming developer and co-founder of Wales Interactive, David Banner.
Along with her presenting work, Alex also provides bilingual voiceovers for BBC science videos for schools, news reports for various TV programmes, and has filmed across the world, including in the US and Russia.
Alex can still be seen presenting Newsround occasionally, but her main work is as presenter of S4C’s weather service and S4C’s weekly half-hour news review programme for Welsh-learners, Yr Wythnos. Alex also reads S4C’s news bulletins (Newyddion), and with her expertise in news, gaming and music, is often a guest pundit on TV and radio.
Keynote on YouTube

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