What do teachers see in massive multiplayer games, that they are not finding in other technologies?
I’ve been around a while and shown a lot of teachers plenty of technology for learning. In the last year I find that where many were highly skeptical of things such as blogs and wikis, I don’t get the same reaction when I mention games. Curious rather than cynical is a more common response. So, if you have the time – and the inclination, I’d value hearing your thoughts on the question above – whether you are using games or perhaps seeing something in them that you’d like to explore.
7 thoughts on “What do you see in games?”
What do you imagine when you think of ‘virtual elearning’? Is it perhaps online classrooms, where students are left in the most part to motivate themselves, to learn text and picture information, by means of reading repetition.
Or do you imagine a virtual environment which mimics real world; where lecturers watch students behavior and progress; coach students within that virtual world, which mimic real world scenarios. Do you imagine that students are placed in narrative driven scenarios, relevant to real world activities and situations. These environments test students decision making skills, and their ability to apply knowledge to realistic real world scenarios.
This is exactly what using a game platform to teach real scenorios does, the engage level increases exponentially . The absorbsion of knowledge is retained due to the fact that doing and seeing is how humans learn and retain best.
I see something that is ENGAGING for my disengaged students. I see the possibility for deep learning, because they want to delve further … they want to level up! I’m not forcing them to read to the end of the chapter because they’ll hve to stay in if they don’t. As an English teacher, storytelling is key …. and that’s what games do, in many intriguing, innovative, and participative ways!! So many of the things teachers like me in English classrooms have been trying to teach are encapsulated in that game that our students spend all their free time playing with their mates on the weekend. And, if we are honest with ourselves, a lot of those elements are probably more elegantly shown in the game the kids are playing than in the novel we try to get them to read because it’s in our bookroom, and we can’t come up with anything better!! I believe that games as a text offer massive possibilities for teachers in my field. The problem I’m facing is from fellow staffmembers who consider it to be not “real” teaching/learning – “but it’s ok for the difficult kids I guess”. My hope is that in a few years time, I’m not in the minority, and that we can discuss the study of gaming with the same level of respect as we do when we talk about studying advertising, Keats, or LOTR.
I’ve started using games this year. I haven’t gotten into massive multiplayer games yet, but have used xbox racing games for students to learn about Newton’s laws. I’ll be soon using another easier racing game to teach scientific investigations (how to design an experiment to test mobile phone use on driving skills – using the xbox game). I’m also mucking around with Kodu.
I’d like to explore multiplayer games though as they add a social aspect to it. But I haven’t found something that works for me yet. BTW, loved your keynote at inspire innovate 🙂
thank you for your kind words. I wonder how you’re deciding on what works, how will you know?
Teachers would be derelict not to be sitting up and taking notice of the world’s most valuable entertainment medium. Conversation on the school playground spikes every time a new game is released onto the market. Most of us only dream of our students bringing the same motivation and passion to their classes that some students do to playing games. Games provide a platform for active discovery learning and immediate feedback. Players learn through exploration and failure is expected, as mistakes are a natural part of the learning process in the game. Good games are designed to challenge players just enough to keep them engaged and pushing to reach the next level.
Games present a compelling model of a next generation learning environment. Imagine a convergence of educational researchers, game producers and teachers, driven by the purchase power of every 15-year old in the nation pestering parents and teachers for access to a state-of-the-art game that teaches an entire curriculum.
MMOs seem particularly good at helping students do a couple of things that are essential not only in the 21st century, but which were good skills to have in the 20th. They encourage or require teamwork based on well-understood (if not always narrowly defined) roles. They create tightly constructed narratives that make sense and speak to the present in a way that is easily understood. They have sophisticated rewards system that encourage repeated play and, if done right, reinforce the skills of playing the player’s character. Most importantly, they present problems to the players that, at least in the context of the game, are real and can be solved. Teamwork can be strongly developed. The story lines of MMOs are not so helpful when confronting real world problems, of course.
For the past 5-years I’ve been using SimCity 4 in my 8th grade American Government and Civics class curriculum as a laboratory where small teams of students are asked to work with the established mayor to reverse urban decay. Once a week each of the 20 teams (5-7) actually get to experience the effects of taxation, spending, infrastructure and replacement, the relationship of slums and crime, education and quality of life, the environment and mass transit to mention only a few. Every year it’s a big hit with students, for failure is not only expected, it’s the scientific model.
Additionally, student get to create a team stock portfolio and manage it for 9-months.
Civilization 4 is used as another in-class laboratory where teams of students get to play around with possible scenarios to the American Revolution.
Last year we had teams of students creating economic indicators in Teen Second Life. No one was measuring this thriving economy. They work with a marketing firm out of Australia (we’re in Pennsylvania) called Market Truths. Then the bad news was announced in August this past year that Linden Labs was closing TSL – just as I was preparing to make a presentation in Boston on our work at the SLCC. That was sad.
These are the primary game-based projects offered to students. I do have a few more online economic games they interact with during period lessons.
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