Another dot in the blogosphere?

Perspectives on serious gaming

Posted on: March 5, 2010

On Wednesday I conducted a professional development session for a few of my Learning Sciences and Technologies (LST) colleagues. It was more a conversation than a lecture.

I shared what I explored in our ICT course in the area of educational game-based learning. The Prezi below is something I used right at the end of the series of tutorials, rather than at the beginning, because I borrow a gaming approach: Provide experiences first and relevant content only later.

While I was aware of some other colleagues who tried this approach or topic, I learned that we looked at it from different lenses. Their approach might be considered the pragmatic or traditional content-based approach: How might teachers/students use games to teach/learn specific content?

My approach was quite different. While I had one content and curriculum based station (Station 3), my other stations had other themes:

  • Station 1: contextuality, complexity and compassion
  • Station 2: competition, communication and collaboration
  • Station 4: cardio and coordination
  • Station 5: cognition (minds-on)

In other words, I was (and still am) more interested in exploring ways that games might influence specific thinking skills or learner values and attitudes, and how these might transfer into traditional teaching and learning.

Another difference that emerged was on how we might scale up this approach.

As not all of our colleagues were comfortable or knowledgeable with game-based learning (GBL), not all our ICT classes experience GBL. My approach has been to influence the mindsets of teacher trainees in my classes and hope that a few go on to implement these ideas when they get posted to mainstream schools. The risk is that they won’t because they neither have the infrastructure nor the support of their colleagues or school principal.

An alternative that a colleague suggested was to somehow get a few self-selected teacher trainees who really wanted to design and implement innovative lessons. NIE had previously offered electives, but these were discontinued due to heavy trainee course loads (this is why I think that a one-year diploma course is TOO SHORT!). The suggestion was to have the trainees be either part of a research effort or a special programme (e.g., Post Graduate Diploma in Education, Specialization in Educational Gaming). These trainees would be posted to schools that wanted to innovate this way and have supervisors and cooperating teachers that would support their efforts. I thought that this was a brilliant idea!

So how are we moving on? I will keep doing what I do because I will reach more trainees. I also believe that the approach has short and long term benefits. Teachers tend to teach the way they are taught, so there must be alternative models for them to observe, experience and critique.

We might also look for ways to make my colleague’s idea a reality. Working towards a special diploma is an administrative nightmare. However, someone with the bandwidth to take in another research study might consider submitting a grant to, say, conduct a longitudinal study on teachers trained to conduct game-based learning lessons. 😉

The group will certainly be having more conversations about gaming now. I also hope to include a few more colleagues in other departments who like the idea of playing games.

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