Saturday, July 2, 2011

Game On!

Just a few days ago I drove a couple of hours to attend a gaming conference. The purpose was to discuss the role of gaming in education. For some time now, I have been contemplating this. What role does gaming play in education? Notice I said what role...gaming has it's place.

The closing keynote speaker is doing fantastic research around gaming. And I really heard his message for how to implement game theory into our classrooms, in particular recursive learning. Here're screenshots of my take-aways:












Even if we don't use video games in our classrooms we can, at the very least, use the theory.

The opening keynote's games struck me. They were absolutely educational, but they were a video game! Sure kiddoes would be engaged in some higher level mathematical (or language) thinking, but they would be doing it to solve the problem posed in the video game! Kind of like a Mario Brothers, but with more embedded academics. The game, Labyrinth, is free and may be available in the app store.

During the conference we had the opportunity to play a game (not created by either of the keynotes). For me, this game was a standardized test cloaked in animation. The goal was to build a tower, what for I'm not sure but I think just to build as many towers in your kingdom as possible. But the only way you could build a tower was to answer a series of questions correctly. So if you got an algebra (or history, science, or English) question correct your tower grew. Very much like Jeopardy except money was replaced by stones and mortar.

There was also a posted leader board so you could see, along with everyone else, where you ranked. All well and fine if you are the one leading, but if you're not...

This game was also billed as requiring student collaboration. Well sure if you group kids together and have them work on one computer. Labyrinth, the game designed by the first keynote, provided for collaboration. But virtually, much like Call of Duty Black Ops does.

Upon leaving this conference I wondered if our students, who are adept at video games, would feel betrayed if we used this clearly educational game with them. Even though many of the questions posed were higher on the bloom's scale, that's all they were ~ questions that had to be answered. In real video games they have to solve problems. Problems that are authentic to the goal of the game.

If we are going to use video games in our classroom, then we should honor the genre, much like @danroy and @MitgutschK do. Just because they are educational doesn't mean they have to be behaviorist. They can be constructivist.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad