What Are We Playing At
What it means to integrate games into the curriculum and why we should
Richard Van Eck
University of North Dakota

Presentation and Game Analysis Packet available

A good session with a sound approach to Game-Based Learning, look for resources from the presentation. Good discussion form the audience. Bottom line- games are interesting, have great potential, yet we have a huge educational struggle to soundly integrate without trying to produce at the level of commercial games- recommendation is to integrate rather than create.

We should be interested in and skeptical of games.

Interactive Digital Software Association
Increasing interest in games 47% Americans bought will buy computer game in 2005, 248 million games sold last year, 35% of players are under 18, 43% are 18-49

Games & Learning
* many examples in education and industry (long list of research citations)- Games can be effective but any innovation used well can be
* Education Arcade: Environmental Detectives
* Virtual U – simulation of running a university
* why and how to they work?

Cognitive Benefits of Games
* Flynn effect– documented increase in IQ scores
— not attributed to education, nutrition, etc
— complexity of mass entertainment like video games may be responsible (Steven Johnson)
* requires high order cognition (not necessarily in a recognized content domain- this is the problem)
— congitive disequilibirum- more learning when there is a shroud of uncertainty
— problem solving, hypothesis forming/testing, rules formed, concept learning

Ingrained prejudice against “play” (if you “play” at “work”, you get fired).

Digital Game-Based Learning (DGBL)

Three approaches:
* Games created by students, game designers, programming, time intensive
* education games built from scratch- designed to seamlessly integrate learning and play — problem is that most games like this are badly executed- Shavian Reversals, offspring inheriting our worst traits “Instructional designers suck the fun right out of games” (Prensky)
* Use commercial games integrated into curriculum
– most cost effective
– quality maximized by leaving game design to game designers and learning up to teachers

Bates Taxonomy of Games matched against Gagne / Blooms Taxonomy (big diagram with examples)

* Commercial games not designed to teach
— limited topics (there are ways around it)
— content may be incomplete, inaccurate
* Commercial games are expensive
* Doing it right
* lots of examples of how NOT to implement tech-based learning
* Moore’s law leads to “build it and they will come and learn” approach

No Signficance Difference – never accounted for strengths and weaknesses of media for a particular skill, mistook use of media for integration of media

Integrating games is no difference from history of integrating media and technology in the classroom.

See reference provided for 20 page game analysis packet from http://idt.und.edu/ designed to help teachers integrate game

There are teachable moments in innaccurate or missing content in games, maximize learner responsibility

Design Instructional Activities- examples of activities
* Math and numbers: budgets, spreadsheets, reports/charts databases
* Writing: diary, scientific report, letters, legal briefs, faxes, write from multiple viewpoints
* Science: design, duplicate experiments in real world, write feasibility studies, hypothesis testing
* Research: assess veracity of game, provide missing information

Making the call: is it worth the time? And being brave enough to say “no”.

Example of DGBL:

There are many physical inaccuracies (meteor hitting earth and stopping rotation)-
Good parts- physical reference section, tutorial on optics

How much is applying physics

The post "What Are We Playing At? (SAC2005)" was originally emerged from the primordial ooze and first walked on land at CogDogBlog (http://cogdogblog.com/2005/08/games-sac2005/) on August 9, 2005.

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