EC&I831, Learning Technologies, Virtual Communities

Gaming in Education

It’s all fun & games… until someone actually learns something.

Educational gaming has become a “hot topic” as accessibility to computers and increased electronic gaming resources have entered the hands of learners. Educators are interested bringing innovative and appealing teaching resources to the evolving learning sphere. Many game designers see the potential for building learning games to capitalize on the video and simulation game market for the classroom. Although I can see potential in gaming for education, I am wary of the disconnect between these two players. Some instructors buy into mass produced “edutainment” games as their response to “adding technology in the classroom.” It would be more effective to connect learners with problem-based, collaborative games that challenge students to critically think and apply the curriculum.

Educators, like Sylvia Martinez, are providing examples for learning professionals who are interested in game-based curriculums. Sylvia is the President of Generation YES (Youth & Educators Succeeding) and she has been engaged in design and implementation of games for education for quite some time.  She is a strong believer that play to supports effective learning and that games can support curriculum needs in the classroom.

Sylvia gives a great introduction to gaming in education in her Kicking It Up A Notch: Games in Education presentation and wiki resources from the K-12 Online Conference 2009.


Picture from the Committee for Melbourne

During last week session in #eci831, Sylvia provided some good and bad examples of how gaming practices have been incorporated in the classroom. It is critical that learners are given the time and purpose for gaming, and support is facilitated through effective reflection and follow up provided by the instructor.

James Paul Gee itemizes “game-like” attributes in his publication Good Video Games and Good Learning:

  • identity

  • interaction

  • production

  • risk-taking

  • customization

  • agency

  • well-ordered problems

  • challenge and consolidation

  • situated meanings

  • pleasantly frustrating

  • just in time and on demand

  • system thinking

  • explore, think laterally, rethink goals

  • smart tools and distributed knowledge

  • cross-functional teams

  • If properly introduced, gaming and project design opportunities compliment & enhance curriculum. Instructors interested utilizing project-based or game-based learning should consider time needs, classroom management, student readiness to collaborate and desired learning outcomes. A few key objectives for gaming implementation is the adaption, correlation, connection assessment and reflection for classroom learning. Sylvia recommends educators look for games that:

  • are programmable & adaptable
  • supports the big ideas for learning
  • offers students multiple ways to “win”
  • plays slow, not twitch play
  • increases ability
  • provides opportunities to collaborate
  • encourages problem-solving & logic strategies
  • suits the curriculum that is taught
  • includes thinking and planning
  • Game on!

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