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I created this image quote in 2015 after reading a variant of the words attributed to George Bernard Shaw.

We do not stop playing because we grow old. We grow old because we stop playing.

But with every axiom comes exceptions.


Video source

According to the research cited in this video, age is a factor at the highest levels of video gaming.

However, this does not invalidate the principle that we do not have to outgrow curiosity, a sense of fun, or risk-taking. Older gamers also learn to metagame — they devise strategies to compensate for split second slowness.


Video source

I can already see the anti-game groups cry foul about the practice of using specially designed games to treat psychological conditions. After all, they see video games as the root of the problem.

If they dig deeper, they might realise that the root causes are multifaceted, layered, and complex. Instead, they rely on personal bias (which then fuels ignorance) to block the possibility that such games might help their children.

The same could be said of teachers who only view video games as being pure distraction or only for delivering content. Off-the-shelf video games are not designed for delivering content; they are designed for creating experiences. It is what you do with those experiences that creates opportunities for learning.

We do not learn from experiences. We learn from reflecting on experiences. -- John Dewey

Here is an unoriginal thought: You can get into a state of flow no matter what video game you play.

My wife, my son, and I play very different games on our phones. My wife likes tile-matching puzzle games — she started with games like Bejeweled and now plays Simon’s Cat Crunch Time.


Video source

My son plays a variety of games and seems to favour multiplayer inline battle arena (MOBA) games now. He is currently playing Mobile Legends.


Video source

My main game is Pokémon Go. This is a location-based game that requires me to leave home to catch Pokémon, spin stops, battle rival gyms, and coordinate raids.

One more level to go!

Whatever game we play, we get into a state of flow. This is an almost zen-like state of focus, quick decision-making, and honed movements.

Different games and gameplay result in the same outcomes while allowing players choice of game based on their interests or strengths. If this sounds familiar, it is because the tenets are built on the same foundations as personal learning.

It does not take an external vendor, elaborate proposals, or a king’s ransom to implement personal learning. It takes actual gameplay and a willingness to reflect and try something new.

This reflection begins with a Pokémon Go gaming strategy and ends with a principle of game-based learning that often escapes teachers.

After I am done with a Level 5 (the highest) raid boss battle, I occasionally hear someone complain how few premier balls they received to catch the boss.

I suspect that these people persist with stubborn habits instead of learning how to do something different and better. Such behaviour is a good example of wilful ignorance.

Players want to receive as many premier balls as possible to increase their chances of catching the raid boss. At a recent raid, I heard someone complain how she only had six premiere balls. I received thirteen, so how did she get so few?

Maximising the number of premier balls after a boss battle.

Six balls are all but guaranteed because up to 20 people battle one boss and defeat it (A). There is nothing strategic about this.

To get more balls, one has to think and operate strategically. If you raid only at gyms controlled by your own team (Instinct, Mystic, or Valor), you assure yourself of two more balls (B).

Others from your team tend to gravitate to such gyms and you are more likely form a majority. This leads to a higher contribution (C) and you might be rewarded with more balls.

The final strategy should you choose to battle at a non-team gym or one where you are a minority is to maximise your damage to the boss. You must manually choose your six Pokémon to take advantage of the weakness of a boss. Do this and you might be rewarded with more balls (D).

The lesson here is not so much about playing Pokémon Go more effectively. It is about game-based learning using games (like Pokémon Go) that are not designed to teach content. Pokémon Go is not designed for lessons on strategic thinking, but it can be used to model and teach it. You just need to think creatively and critically, and transfer what is relevant from the game to your curriculum.

This TED talk is like a trojan horse, but a good kind.
 

Source

It started with the unwarranted fears of “screen time” but was really about authentic game-based learning.

The speaker, Sara Dewitt, outlined how games were or could be:

  • A form of embodied learning
  • A possible replacement for standardised testing
  • An opportunity for adults to co-learning with children

These aspects of gaming might be new to some. I hope they become standard fare in education because that is one of the places the mobile road is taking us.

Teachers want video games that focus on content and vendor-developers try to deliver.

They are both barking up the wrong tree. They are trying to do the same thing (deliver content) differently (getting students to play video games). And they are doing this more expensively and laboriously.

Video game development takes a long time and costs a lot of money. Once developed and published, you typically cannot change content easily. The content also becomes irrelevant quickly, possibly when the game is released.

So what are video games good for? How might educators integrate them or leverage on them? This resource and video provide some clues.


Video source

With video games, we should be:

  • Focusing on nurturing positive and lasting values.
  • Developing thinking and communication skills.
  • Taking advantage of what games do differently and better than classrooms, books, and conventional teaching.
  • Leveraging on how they provide context and immersion.

Well-designed games reach simultaneously into the lizard and human parts of our brains for dopamine fixes and intrinsic motivation. Well-designed games do not just engage, they empower.

Such games are often not designed for schooling or education because they do not follow all the old school rules.

  • Gone are stating objectives first.
  • Instructions and directions are often missing.
  • Testing happens early and continuously.
  • Games encourage uncovering, discovering, risk-taking, and learning from mistakes.
  • Cheating, modding, collaborating, and teaching one another are essential if one is to progress.

If educators want to take advantage of games, they must know how games work and adapt to those rules, not the other way around. To do otherwise is to try to do the same thing differently and students will see through that immediately.

 
Why do some consultants, designers, and teachers constrain video game-based learning to old or current practices?

That was the question I asked myself when I read this article, Gaming in the classroom: what we can learn from Pokémon Go technology.

The piece offered what seems to be some good ideas on how to leverage on gaming. The examples were:

  • whole-class discussions of how the movement of tectonic plates has affected GPS readings in Australia (science, geography, English)
  • photographing both real insects and virtual Pokémon and then writing up Pokédex entries for the insects they have collected (science, media studies, ICT, English, art)
  • designing classification flowcharts for Pokémon as a lead-up to classification of animals (science, English, maths)
  • assigning students the job of Pokéstop tour guide (Pokéstops are often positioned in front of historical locations), requiring them to research and report on the history of the area (history, art, English)
  • framing maths problems around the data available for each Pokémon such as height, weight and strength. For example, if I have 3,700 stardust, what combination of Pokémon can I power up that will use up all my stardust? Or Asha’s house is 600m from school. The only time she plays Pokémon Go is as she walks to and from school every day. How many days will it take her to hatch a 5.0km egg?

The ideas are better than what some teachers I know would come up with. But teachers tend to teach the way they were taught and constrain gaming to current constructs and practices of curriculum.

One construct is discrete units or silos like separate academic subjects and the subtopics within. Gaming tends to transcend this by being cross and multidisciplinary.

One practice is repetition by way of drilling simply because “this was how I was taught”. This was why drill-and-practice dominated early educational “games” and are still common today. Some refer to this practice as serving chocolate-covered broccoli.

Another traditional construct and practice is class or curriculum time. Specifically how tasks need to be completed like a checklist in class and within tight curriculum time. What falls through is then called homework and extra classes. Gaming happens any time, all the time, or on-demand.

The shortcut is simply this: Teachers bend games to the will of curriculum and distort what could be very powerful game-based learning into game-incentivised teaching.

To change teaching, the teacher needs to learn to behave like the learner-gamer by exploring, experimenting, and experiencing. The bad news is that there are no shortcuts. The good news is that gaming is fun.

The article was not without its merits. The best part was this:

the general capability priorities such as critical and creative thinking, personal and social capability and, of course, ICT, could also be taught using Pokémon Go as students manage their school and social lives, build relationships with others, work effectively in teams and make responsible decisions.

As this game is not played from behind closed doors, it even encourages conversations about personal safety. Discussions about the intersection between reality and the virtual world and digital etiquette are easy to imagine.

The constructs and practices to draw from the paragraphs is that game-based learning should be authentic, context-based, relevant to the learner, and transferable. Such ideas are not constrained by the baggage of schooling.


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