Benjamin Stokes


Benjamin G. Stokes, is a co-founder of the Serious Games subgroup known as Games For Change, which concentrates on societal change and nonprofit partners. He is also a program manager overseeing digital learning projects at NetAid under the umbrella of Education for Global Citizenship. This work included the 2004 launch of the Peter Packet Game and Challenge in collaboration with Cisco Systems. Benjamin is the architect behind NetAid's interactive VolunteerGuru guidance counselor and previously managed the developing world's preeminent Online Volunteering service in coordination with the United Nations Volunteers.
Before NetAid, Benjamin produced and edited virtual fieldtrips and online research products at Bigchalk/ProQuest, which serves more than 40,000 K-12 schools. Benjamin has taught in a number of contexts, including applied logic and wilderness survival for middle school students. Benjamin studied abroad in Senegal and graduated from Haverford with a BA in physics and a minor in French literature. As a progressive student leader, he co-founded the campus anti-sweatshop group. After graduating, Benjamin worked with the CREA House to develop a living wage standard for the U.S.-Mexico border region. In his spare time, Benjamin has been seen recently indulging in the Slow Food movement.


Combining Play with Service Learning
Workshop, Friday (1:30 - 3:00) in Hall of Ideas E

Good service learning, like good learning in games, is personally relevant, social and experiential. As luck would have it, the Internet is bringing both games and service learning online. Pedagogical and game-system confluences are both possible. On one hand, encouraging overlap between games and service learning may facilitate broader buy-in of gamesbenefits from within the formal school system. On the other hand, overlap can coexist in a single product when game systems integrate such community service as online tutoring, online stewardship or even fundraising. Both games and service emphasize identity and motivation in learning -- and where education seeks to empower learners to change the world, the combination may prove especially powerful.

Already, administrative acceptance of service learning is rising in middle and high schools, where support for games typically declines. At the same time, one game built by Cisco Systems and NetAid already includes an extension for online service. Earlier this year, the largest national service learning conference featured a roundtable where we discussed these same ideas.

This workshop will interactively explore productive confluences between games and (online) service learning. In small groups we'll work through several case studies ranging from a traditional videogame that could easily adopt service learning to an instance where service learning could be made into a videogame. Insights from the related discussion at the national service learning conference will be incorporated. Parallels between empowerment in learning and society will be discussed. Outcomes include identifying potential opportunities emerging from overlap at both the pedagogical and game-system level.


Games for Change Discussion
Luncheon Meeting, Thursday (12:15 - 1:30) in the Grand Terrace

Since its launch a year ago, the Serious Games subgroup known as Games For Change (G4C) has seen its membership and visibility grow significantly. As a community of practice, G4C explores "social change" through games by emphasizing partnerships between industry, nonprofits, universities and more. Join us during lunch, where several tables have been set aside for a conversation with G4C co-founder Benjamin Stokes exploring G4C and multi-sector partnerships around research, publicity and development.

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