I’m a big fan of play – it is one of the most authentic, engaging, rewarding modes of learning.
My old school (primary) was heavily into play-based learning but now I work in a high school. We have rules banning students from many online games and I understand some of the reasons why (time/task management issues, IT issues), but I want to bust through that rule and claim gaming as a tool for students and teachers.
I’m not a gamer; I don’t even know a lot about the world of online games except what I’ve watched (and ok, played a bit) as my sons grew up – they loved Runescape, WofW, Sims etc. and what I saw was good (apart from the odd blood splatter). They had to deal with online social issues sure, but even those were worthy learning experiences.
So this year I’ve made investigating and implementing some online games-based learning activities as my Professional Learning goal for 2012.
Step 1 has been about building knowledge and exploring the topic. Here’s a quick look at what I’ve been looking at:
This great blog piece (click on the title above) helped me understand the different ways games can be applied to education/learning:
- Educational games apps to teach skills
- non-educational games to use in conjunction with a topic
- non education games that inspire or engage in a learning project
Favourite quote from the piece:
I see a great potential in what I call non-educational games becoming a learning experience for young children. When I explain this to others, I start by explaining all of those other events we plan for our early years children such as going on a walk, visiting the post office, hanging the washing out to dry… When we are performing these tasks, they are not educational. It is what we do as educationalists before, during and after the event that makes it educational.
Pedagogy always comes first!
The State Library of Victoria’s Learning Services put together a very comprehensive introduction to gaming in education as part of their PLN program. It’s definitely worth working your way through it even though the program is finished. It covers all the 5W’s. It also includes a wonderful webinar that was put on by Paul Callaghan, games developer and the organizer of FreePlay Independent Games Festival. The webinar is available to watch and really filled some gaps in my knowledge
Paul covered the opic of how games of all sorts have shaped us, and talked about:
- games as tools
- games as culture
- how games create a space for learning
- games literacy (and how important it is)
One of the articles I ran across has given me some real insight on directions and interests of the large players in the educational games arena.
For the Win: Serious Gamification: Gaming as an educational Tool
My favourite quote from this article:
Anthony Salcito (Vice President of Worldwide Education, Microsoft):
Anthony wants to lift the way in which technology makes a difference in the classrooms by looking at the motivation of the learner or player of the game. He says there has to be a platform of optimism making students feel they have an impact in their world and community so that learning becomes relevant to what they hope to achieve. Students who get an “F” on their papers conclude they can’t understand that subject whereas with a “Game Over” screen, gamers come back and try harder while learning from their mistakes. So the assessment models in schools are often not motivating while the language of games has an incentive for students to learn from their mistakes and move on.
However, I disagree with Mr. Salcito when he says teachers are saying students learn better by teachers teaching to the test. This is a system that is being forced on teachers, not chosen by them.
Step 2: is all about talking to members of the school community and strategic planning. I’ll blog about that in my next post.