INF541Assessment Task # 5 Critical Reflection

Whilst undertaking this subject I was given the ideal opportunity to examine the field of Digital Game Based learning and its effectiveness within an educational context. Before embarking on my studies for this subject the impression I had mistakenly adopted about using digital games in the classroom was misleading and false. Digital games were in my eyes, gimmicky and used only to attract a student’s preliminary attention during a lesson. This inaccurate intuition was built from my own personal experiences using 1980 versions of ‘educational games’ when I was at school; which in my eyes were clunky and a waste of precious learning time. My personal ‘lightbulb’ moment that changed my approach to the notion of Digital Game Based Leaning (DGBL) was after reading Van Eck’s (2006) ‘Digital Game- Based Learning- It’s Not Just the Digital Natives Who Are Restless’ where he proposed that the educational games of the past couple of decades were unfortunately designed by academics who were oblivious to the importance of game design in their approach to integrating this sort of tool within teaching practices; leading to games that were academically sound but lacked the thrill and excitement that other entertainment based games were brimming in.  With further reading and analysis during this study of INF541, the shallow perspectives I had initially employed had gradually and fortunately faded and I began to realise the ultimate power of using such forms of relevant technology within the construct of a lesson.

One outcome in my new found findings for this subject has been in the overarching importance of learning through ‘play’. Through history the human race has learnt effectively through the use of play associated with trial and error.  Huizinga (1955) stated that games, play and learning have enjoyed a symbiotic relationship through recorded history. The effective use and incorporation of Digital Game Based Leaning (DGBL) into pedagogy helps to encourage play; which if implemented suitably fosters applicable learning. Koster (2005) also proposes that playing games is an essential part of the ‘evolving human learning experience’. During the situational analysis that I conducted on the effectiveness of DGBL in comparison to traditional forms of teaching, it became apparent that the more ‘play’ time given to the students of this study, the more motivated they were in achieving success in their ‘game play influenced’ learning.

These notions then lead on to my realisation in the importance of DGBL and student motivation. It comes with no surprise that DGBL works in favour for assisting students’ motivation levels during learning.  Oblinger (2004) states that ‘Games also offer advantages in terms of motivation. Often times students are motivated to learn material (e.g., mythology or math) when it is required for successful game play – that same material might otherwise be considered tedious.’ (Oblinger, p 13.) I agree with the above observation as in my experience, students are generally more motivated to learn about a topic through a game play experience rather than to cover within a core textbook due to its non-static nature. A games ability to provide the player with a set of unpredictable variables consequently keeps the learning dynamically constant and non-stagnant; which exclusive traditional forms of teaching in some case do not provide.

Another benefit to take from my learning experience in the use of DGBL is in its ability to be non-discriminatory; effectively used by all levels of skill in a classroom. Due to the highly flexible and pliable nature of games; if prepared properly can suit any learning capacity. Fuscard (2001) proposes that games can ‘reduce the gap between quicker and slower learners’; making relevant DGBL a great teaching tool to help moderate teaching approaches in order to accommodate for multiple types of intelligences within a classroom.

This learning experience has been a very instrumental one for me personally and has changed the way I prepare and design my lessons. The experience I’ve taken from this subject is in the power of digital game play and how if used appropriately can be a tool that effectively not only motivates students to learn, but encourages real world thinking and collaborative problem solving to real world challenges; in some instances far more successfully than traditional based learning ever could.

 

Reference List-

  • Huizinga, J (1955) Homo Ludens: A Study of the Play- Element in Culture. Beacon Press, Boston, USA.
  • Koster, R. (2005). A Theory of Fun for Game Design. Scottsdale, Arizona: Paragylph Press
  • Oblinger, D. (2004). The next generation of educational engagement. Journal of Interactive Media in Education, 8.
  • Fuszard, B. (2001) Gaming. IN LOWENSTEIN, A. J., BRADSHAW, M. J. & FUSZARD, B.  (Eds.) Fuszard’s innovative teaching strategies in nursing. 3rd ed.  Gaithersburg, MD, Aspen Publishe
  • Van Eck, Richard. (2006). Digital game-based learning: It’s not just the digital natives who are restless. EDUCAUSE Review, (20), 16-18.http://www.educause.edu/ero/article/digital-game-based-learning-its-not-just-digital-natives-who-are-restless

 

INF541 BLOG TASK #2 HOW MIGHT GAMES BE USED TO DEVELOP A MORE SOCIALLY INCLUSIVE CLASSROOM?

One aspect of children’s enjoyment of playing games, is related to Gee’s principle that game players are immersed in an affinity group were learners constitute a group bonded through shared endeavors, goals, and practices.

In what is a very interesting article, Gee’s interprets how a good game can promote good learning; this is made clear through a number of learning principles that he briefly outlines in how good games incorporate good learning. In my eyes, one of the most important learning principles that he lists, is in a relevant video games ability to promote ‘cross-functional teams’ (Gee, 2005)
An observation that I have personally made over the years as an educator is the way in which group based learning can be so powerful due to its potential in increasing a students feelings of belonging to a team; helping to promote bonds between these students and strengthen the feeling of a micro learning community . In the same way, video games are so efficient in providing its players a platform where teaming up with someone or against them is part of the overall process. Gee (2004) states that such teams of people are affiliated by their commitment to a common endeavor, not primarily by their race, class, ethnicity, or gender.

The video gaming industry has increased in both size and power over the past couple of decades. Sinclair (2015) states that by the end of the 2015 year, the gaming industry had a net worth of  91. 5 Billion Dollars.  Current video games are so successful that their popularity has created many games on the market today that are household names and play a big part in most of the western worlds teenager lives. This popularity and power consequently influences how teenagers interact with each other and how they perceive others through their gaming habits. It has been found that males are more likely to play to impress friends and for a challenge (Griffiths and Hunt 1995) although girls, too, have been found ‘to perceive themselves to have peer approval for moderate amounts of game playing’ (Cesarone 1998, page 3). The existence of these statistics which demonstrate how influential gaming has become in a teenagers life helps to make  clear that the power of gaming should be utilised both in the bounds of a classroom but more importantly used as a tool to assist  in developing a more socially inclusive classroom.

Another really important learning principle outlined in Gees article is a games ability to promote production skills among its players. Gee (2005) cleverly states that ‘Players are producers, not just consumers; they are “writers,” not just “readers.”’ This statement accurately stipulates that due to the varying and sophisticated nature of playing a video game, players undergo very different gaming experiences playing the same game therefore ‘producing’ very different outcomes at the end of the process. (Betz 1995; Gee 2003) supports this potential when stating that ‘Imaginative, well-produced simulation games encourage visualisation, experimentation and creativity in finding new ways to tackle a game’ These attributes found in a games potential would help to cater for a classroom full of multiple intelligences and could be used to provide the continuity needed to bring all of the different ‘production’ experiences together to form a  more socially inclusive learning environment.

In conclusion, I wholeheartedly agree with Gees viewpoint on the success a relevant game can have in providing an amazing learning tool in any workplace or classroom.

References-

– Gee, J.P. (2005). Good video games and good learning. Phi Kappa Phi Forum, 85(2), 33-37. http://dmlcentral.net/sites/dmlcentral/files/resource_files/GoodVideoGamesLearning.pdf

-Gee, J. P. Situated Language and Learning: A Critique of Traditional Schooling. London: Routledge, 2004

-Griffiths MD, Hunt N (1995). Computer game playing in adolescence: prevalence and demographic indicators. Journal of Community and Applied Psychology, 5, 189–193.

-Cesarone B (1998). Video games: research, ratings, recommendations. ERIC Digest, Report No. EDO-PS-98-1

-Sinclair, B (2015)  Gaming will hit $91.5 billion this year – Newzoo GameIndustry.Biz http://www.gamesindustry.biz/articles/2015-04-22-gaming-will-hit-usd91-5-billion-this-year-newzoo

-Betz JA (1995). Computer games: increase learning in an interactive multidisciplinary environment. Journal of Educational Technology Systems, 24(2), 195–205

-Gee JP (2003). What video games have to teach us about learning and literacy. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

 

INF541 BLOG TASK #1

Teaching at an all boys independent school in Sydney; I have one of the most satisfying roles in shaping the boys of the school into young men with the use of appropriately chosen pedagogy. I am also fortunate enough to be employed at an institution which encourages its staff to trial the plethora of teaching techniques and tools available from the pedagogical world in order to not only better my craft, but to enhance the student learning that should be taking place in my classroom.

Over the years as a teacher, I have taken a special interest in the learning technologies that are continually emerging on the educational landscape and have been lucky enough to hold various roles in assisting my colleagues in their use and integration of this technology into the classroom. I am also just about to complete my Masters in Information Communication Technology in Education. Whilst technology saturates the many lessons I hold, I am perplexed to say that Game Based Learning has never really played a major role in my use of technology to assist with student learning.

I agree with the article ‘Teachers re-evaluate value of Video Games’ even as early as in the first paragraph where Jennings (2014) states that although most homes have video games there has been a lot of resistance to them entering the classroom. This statement rings true in my life and upbringing; being a kid growing up in the 80s and 90s video gaming played an large role in my home life but was basically non existent with the few exceptions of ‘Where in the World is Carmen Santiago’ or the electronic version of ‘Wheel of Fortune’ inside the classroom. When I stop to reflect on this, I begin to think that why was this the case?, video games were something I admired immensely and the thought of marrying gaming with learning sounds like a great and worthwhile initiative. Squire (2005) proves this passion for gaming when he states that during various surveys ‘Digital games are routinely listed as the most important and
influential medium by those under 35’. If this is true, shouldn’t the educators of the world benefit from this phenomenon by trialing and using more game based learning in order to increase the influences of their teachings in the classroom.

One of the things that I am beginning to admire about games based learning is the number of readings that I have begun to read that help debunk the regular claims that gaming only really assists to teach lower level intellectual skills and to improve physical skills in students. In one such reading Johnson (2005) states that ‘games are effective partly because the learning takes place within a meaningful (to the game) context. What you must learn is directly related to the environment in which you learn and demonstrate it; thus, the learning is not only relevant but applied and practiced within that context. Learning that occurs in meaningful and relevant contexts, then, is more effective than learning that occurs outside of those contexts, as is the case with most formal instruction’. It is these observations that excite and motivate me to want to learn how to incorporate the best game based learning programs into my classroom.

My Personal Aims-

In studying this subject, I really want to be able to select the appropriate games that are effective as teaching tools and become so successful that my students do not merely see them as a bit of fun away from learning but learning whilst having fun. I would also love to develop a library of successful games to be able to incorporate them into the appropriate sections of our syllabus so that my fellow colleagues in the department have access to using them in their classrooms as well.

What challenges lie ahead-

Convincing a large proportion of the staff body at my school  that using game based learning isn’t just a gimmick and when used properly can be as and or more effective then formal delivery.

 

References-

  • Jennings, J. (2014). Teachers re-evaluate the value of video games.The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved from http://www.smh.com.au/national/education/teachers-reevaluate-value-of-video-games-20141110-11jw0i
  • Johnson, S (2005) Everything Bad Is Good for You: How Today’s Popular Culture Is Actually Making  Us Smarter (New York: Riverhead Books, 2005), 24.
  • Squire, K (2005) ‘Game-Based Learning: Present and Future State of the Field’ – An x-Learn Perspective Paper Supported by a grant from the e-Learning CONSORTIUM Feburary 200