Games for rethinking learning

Yesterday, a group of brave teachers came to a games based learning colloquium. The day looked at how games operate, and perhaps how the current gravitational Blooms taxonomy is absent in mmo and casual games, and that in turn, many of the attributes we find so engaging in games, are fundamentally missing or disproportionally represented using the encumbent, Blooms theory. Time and again, we found games could provide vital elements that we often want to promote – ethics, social responsibility, communication, critical thinking, where it was much harder to blend them into the Blooms triangle.

We didnt find Blooms to be a throw-out, that at the same time, we found it did not promote innovation, risk and unexpected outcomes, but more supported the gatekeeping on intended learning outcomes.

Games explored: World of Warcraft, Moshi Monsters, OGame, FieldRunners, Quest Atlantis, Second Life, Open Sim, Jokaydia Grid – and the awesome Adrian Bruce.

A big thanks to all who came and shared some great ideas and provided inspiring and moderating discussion all day. A special mention to my good friend Angela Cooke for helping newbies survive their first few minutes in Azeroth, and to the always amazing Peggy Sheehy.

The conclusion was that games have a real place in learning, from the board game, to iwb, to casual, to console and mmo. However, they need to be in a culture that accepts games dont ahere to convention and are will only work where people are willing to adopt wider values in their philosophy – and construct meaninful work around them, not because of them.

Great day, hope to do it again!


3 thoughts on “Games for rethinking learning

  1. Hi Dean

    Love the quote and the time factor – 1999 – just reinforce that this is an ongoing problem. For technology to make a difference in the classroom, other than the engagement factor, it has to do something you can do any other way

    I like the work of Bernajean Porter on this. She says there are three levels of technology use:
    1. Literacy – This is the teaching about technology, learning how to use the technology

    2. Augmentative – this is the teaching with technology – technology is doing something we could do in a traditional way

    3. Transformative – teaching through technology – this is the stuff we can do any otehr way.

    Unfortunately we seem to sit with level one and then be satisfied (and often well pleased with ourselves) if we make it to level 2.

    We need to lift the game and start playing and expecting the play to be at level 3 – we have had 11 years since Snyder wrote that comment


  2. thanks Andrew, we in fact thought that games have a different over arching modality, especially in levels of cumulative understanding, but between each level of increasing complexity, Blooms was still a valuable framework. Not lease because exams are founded on their heirarchy.

    Perhaps the critical areas was to avoid learning being pedestrianised – especially in the case of eLearning and edu-games, and more typicslly found in chapeter based text books – where the topic changes, but the levels of autonomy, social creation and innovation often remain on plane that we think is that of the age of the learner.

    An example was the numaracy of kindy kids who are benchmarked to count to thirty by the end of their first year. Clearly the DS enable child will blitz this playing Nintendogs.

    We were looking particularly at James Paul Gee, John Biggs and Henry Jenkins, and the day really was about looking for evidence, and how we might begin to articulate their theory using commercial games and adapting pedagogy to support change as you suggest (3).

    We are perhaps on the brink of change, but as you say, weve been here for a decade or more. We generally thought that today the use of games is more possible, simply by virtue of their availability, format and cost.

    However, playing in Gee, Jenkins territory is somewhat daunting!

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