Another dot in the blogosphere?

Posts Tagged ‘educational gaming

Scientific American has an article titled Getting It Wrong: Surprising Tips on How to Learn. They might be surprised, but I am not. Educational gamers might refer to this as productive failure or safe failure.

The elements mentioned in the article are what gamers experience all the time. Challenging tests, trial and error, learning and strategizing from error, experiencing/trying before reading texts/manuals, etc.

The article describes word-pair experiments that, while well-established, lack context. Gamers have context: The game scenarios. So whether you are playing games or using gaming strategies, you might just get your students to get it wrong in order to get it right!

I have led my ICT classes through another game-based learning module. After a bit of tinkering, I think I have something I can suggest to my colleagues.

This semester I included a different presentation at the end of the module: My favourite Prezi presentation platform!

prezi_educational_gaming

Most of my teacher trainees have been actively blogging about their gaming experiences. If you asked me for one that stands out, it has to be Verin’s reflection after the second gaming session. She linked some of James Paul Gee’s learning principles after experiencing gaming from a student’s perspective. Putting on a teacher’s hat, she came to this conclusion:

It is not necessary to engage in games, per se, to be involved in game-based learning in the classroom. This is because we should look at the strategies behind them and incorporate them into our teaching.

Exactly!

Speaking of blogs, a friend on Facebook sent out a notification that the Jurong Regional Library is having a gaming session. See the Rambling Librarian’s blog entry for details.

Straits Times online featured this article on gaming:

2009-10-05-youth_stuck_on_gaming

I guess only negative or sensationalistic headlines grab eyeballs. Youth are “stuck” (as in addicted or immobile) and this “raises fears”. This isn’t news, it’s olds. The layperson already has this perception and ST is telling them what they want to read or hear.

If ST really wanted to report the news, report it when the results have been properly analyzed. Or link it to opportunities such as Singapore’s game development, participation in cyber competitions or educational gaming. These highlight Singapore’s reputation and savvy as well as the educational ground we can break in this area.

ST highlights fears but I am already aware of them. Folks at this forum are livid about the article. I see opportunities and pursue them instead. The layperson might see 27 hours a week wasted on gaming. I see 27 hours of informal and meaningful learning initiated by the learner!

BTW, I only have access to the digital copy above and don’t have the full article. I neither subscribe to ST online (cough, ripoff, cough) nor a paper copy (a waste of resources). The NIE library has “lost” yesterday’s newspaper too. I’d appreciate a copy of the full article if anyone has it.

A colleague (Steve Zuiker) and I are planning on offering an ed-gaming elective in the 2010 Jan semester.

I’d like to build upon what I start each semester on ed-gaming in the core ICT course for teacher trainees. I agree with Steve that this elective course is an not just an opportunity for us to start something unique in teacher education, but also to accelerate the changes in thinking that are sorely needed in education.

I’d like to see gaming and other powerful and relevant ideas emerge in all learning settings. Such practices should not be hiding behind books (both figuratively and literally).

I don’t get many eyes on this blog in between semesters, but I welcome any ideas for getting teachers to integrate gaming in mainstream education.

Someone prepared a Prezi-based presentation on educational gaming. There was no information in the presentation or at Prezi at the time I viewed it so I cannot attribute it to anyone in particular.

This week I conduct last of my educational gaming sessions for the semester. And just as I bring these sessions to a “close”, one of my RSS feeds send me an article about Microsoft investigating the educational benefits of gaming.

Here’s a snippet from

“We want to figure out what’s compelling about the games,” said John Nordlinger, head of gaming research for Microsoft. “If we can find out how to make the games fun and not make them so violent, that would be ideal.”

Microsoft has put up $1.5 million to start The Games for Learning Institute, a joint venture with New York University and other colleges. The goal of the research is to see whether video games — and not just software specifically designed to be educational — can draw students into math, science and technology-based programs. The institute has begun lining up middle school students to study.

Microsoft is the not the first to explore whether video games could enhance education. University of Wisconsin researchers found that playing “World of Warcraft” can encourage scientific thinking.

Read the rest of the article here.

Chris Dawson blogged about how a Wii game, Animal Crossing, might promote basic literacy.


[Link to Animal Crossing website]

Using his children as examples, he shared how his 6-year-old wanted to read more as a result of playing this game. I can relate to that because I play games on the Wii with my son and he has to read to understand instructions on screen too. And like Chris, we read to (and with) our son before bedtime too.

I share his optimism and his view that any game that gets kids to want to read more is a good thing. I think that does not matter if the reading material is on paper or on a screen, although they are likely to read more on the latter in their lifetimes. And it helps that the game is kid-friendly in that it does not “involve blood, gore, sex, or drug use”.

He also recognised that the game was not designed specifically for reading, but was a happy coincidence instead. I like the fact that kids can interact with their peers over WiFi. They might then practice their literacy skills in social contexts. These are what games are good at: Informal learning opportunities rooted in engaging experiences. The concepts, skills, and even perhaps the values that the games promote can transfer into other contexts.

The educational gaming sessions that I will facilitate at the MxL will begin in about a month, but I do not have copies of Animal Crossing. Does anyone have a copy or know of generous sponsors? :)

I thought I’d highlight some gaming trends that might have an impact in education.

Have you ever thought of surfing the WWW as a game? This unusual genre of gaming is called passively multiplayer online games (PMOG site, Wikipedia entry). I don’t know if PMOG will take off in a big way as it is hard to tell what people will adopt.

What has already been successful are social games like those found on FaceBook (see top games as of 24 Sep 08 and a blog entry on Games 2.0). How do I know? I attended a Web 2.0 developers conference in San Francisco in April and the folks there predicted a fusion of gaming and Web 2.0. Unlike traditional game development, this genre of gaming does not have a long development time, and high production and publicity cost. In fact, users may actually develop the game as they play it and its popularity spreads virally. Prior to the conference, I would never have thought of games as user-generated content!

Another possible trend is the free games model (South Korea’s free computer game model hits US). Gamers don’t pay for the game itself, but for enhancements that they wish to purchase. I think that such games may also be ad-driven.

Why do I think that these trends might have an impact on educational gaming? First, the free or low cost model will appeal to schools. Second, user-generated content will bring in the social and collaborative component that will allow gamers to create their own environments and outcomes. It is a great way to promote both creative and critical thinking. Finally, the idea of PMOGs is deceptively simple. Some games will be easier to create and play, and this can only be good for educators who want to bring game elements into their teaching and for learners to create content.

This week marked the “end” of my Focus on Integrating Technology (FIT) on educational gaming. I am quite certain that we achieved the main goal of getting teachers to experience games from the persective of our students and thus getting a glimpse of how they think.

I hope that they also got the other messages I was trying to deliver. Like the importance of talking with our students about games or gaming exeriences. Or being able to transfer some principles of gaming to day-to-day teaching. Plus other messages that I hope they took home during the “debriefing” (see image above).

I also hope that they have been reflecting on their experiences not only as trainees but also as teachers. Teachers tend to teach the way they themselves were taught, so I have been trying to provide alternative models of instruction and pedagogy.

On reflection, I might try some things differently next semester. I might replace one of the two Flash games stations with a station with handhelds like the Nintendo DS or the Sony PSP. I could also have at least one more computer at the Flash games stations (or more Flash games stations) so that more than one person can play.

I might also extend the sessions to six weeks (instead of just three) with a week for e-learning. The e-learning session could focus on Web-based games or co-constructing their understanding of game-based learning using a wiki. A few of my trainees did a great service in recommending Web links and online videos that I will certainly use them next time round!

I welcome any constructive ideas to make the experiences for future batches of preservice teachers even better!

More YouTube videos!

David found two good videos that explore some ground on the area of educational or serious gaming. He embedded them in his blog entry. These videos definitely add value to the on-going conversation we are having on educational gaming. Thanks, David!

BTW, the first video (also embedded above) was from the School of Education, Indiana University (IU), Bloomington… my alma mater! I have used the lab where the kids were playing games. I got my Ph.D. from IU and facilitated an online ICT course for preservice teachers while I was there.


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