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Posts Tagged ‘serious gaming

I have distilled some differences and overlaps in gamification, game-based learning, and serious gaming.

I focus on their use and integration in educational contexts. I exclude contexts like industry style performance support, commercial sells, VWO campaigns, etc.

I distill factors that govern the three in the table below without elaboration. The explanations are for another time because my thoughts are not complete and each factor could be a class in a university course.

I may add to or subtract from this table over time.

I am trying to make sense of several loose threads on the overlaps and differences in gamification, game-based learning, and serious gaming.

So far I have gleaned and coded from several articles categories like:

  • Game play
  • Objectives
  • Outcomes
  • Ties to content
  • Nature of learning
  • Role of analytics
  • Purpose
  • Main motivation
  • Locus of control
  • Narrative
  • Cost
  • Platform

There is quite a lot of snipping, gathering, and patchwork to do…

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. ūüėČ

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.

Clive Thompson began his article on gaming by noting how one game designer pleaded with his audience not to rely on walkthroughs. Walkthroughs are detailed guides on how to overcome the problems that a game puts in the way of a player’s progress.

As I read that, I immediately thought about two things. The first was how I had relied on one such guide when I was playing a game several months ago. The second thing was what¬† Thompson wrote about next. The game designer bemoaned the fact that gamers might be missing out on the challenges of the game. However, he was missing the gamers’ perspective and the larger picture.

What is the gamers perspective? Most gamers want to play the game and will try but fail over and over again. Some call this productive failure because it eventually leads to solutions. But players often just get stuck and the failure is frustrating instead of productive. They then turn to help wherever they can find it. These days the help is in places like game forums and YouTube. My game guru was a boy whose voice had not even broken yet! But he created and shared a YouTube video that helped me solve my problem.

What is the bigger picture? Gamers are working together to solve problems. They often do so for free (a few charge for “cheat” books) and they do so to help others. In this gaming support world, reputation outweighs riches.

Like Thompson, I’d point out that some gaming problems are often too complex for just one person to solve. But put several players together and they will figure things out. It is collaborative learning at its best!

To teachers and parents who don’t see it that way, I’ll point out that the learners want to do the task, they will strategise and think of alternatives when they fail, and they won’t give up. They will seek out solutions by consulting others. They will openly and willingly share what they know. As a result, initial solutions are negotiated and fine-tuned and only the best ones float to the top. It’s an educational solution that is screaming at the top of its voice, but teachers cannot look past their curricula, their report cards or their PowerPoint slides.

Why aren’t teachers taking advantage of games or a game-based approach? Most are not gamers and they know no better. Many are told by self-serving media giants that games are addictive, violent or antisocial. I hope that my teacher trainees see otherwise as they experience serious gaming over the next few weeks.


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