Topic 1 : How might games be used to develop a more socially inclusive classroom or workplace using Gee’s viewpoint?
A socially inclusive classroom endeavours to meet the individual needs of all students (Cologon, 2015). Students are encouraged to learn together with guidance from the teacher who utilises a variety of resources. Games are one such resource that a teacher could employ to cater for the diverse learning needs within a class.
Initially, teachers, such as myself, who have had little experience playing video games may see barriers and tensions rather than opportunities. The traditional role of the teacher is challenged when video games are used in the classroom (Sandford, Facer & Williamson, 2011) and this can be unsettling. At first, barriers such as technology infrastructure and the time required to learn about games seem insurmountable. However these barriers can be overcome if teachers are willing to rethink their teaching (Becker, 2011).
According to James Paul Gee, good games incorporate learning principles that can be have a positive impact on education (Turkay, 2014). Gee asserts that video games entertain and motivate people through challenge and learning. Gee’s viewpoint is backed up by cognitive science research (2005) and is persuasive enough to make me rethink the place of games in schools and libraries.
Of the sixteen learning principles described by Gee (2005), the following four resonated with me as beneficial to a socially inclusive classroom; risk taking, customisation, situated meanings and cross-functional teams.
Video games encourage players to take risks and explore. Failure is not the end result but the chance to receive feedback in order to try again (Gee, 2005). Video games provide a safe environment to try out different choices and consider other points of view (Turkay, 2014). Ethical understanding is a general capability in the Australian Curriculum and video games could be useful resources.
Many video games allow the player to adjust difficulty levels. The same game could be used within a classroom but differentiated according to the needs of individual students. Students can also customise games in other ways to suit their learning or playing styles (Gee, 2005). For example sounds can be turned on or off. Customisation also assists in managing cognitive load, the mental effort required for a task (Turkay, 2014).
Video games could improve vocabulary by situating the meaning of words and language within the context of the game. Verbal and non-verbal cues are contained in images, actions and the dialogue of video games (Gee,2005) and could be beneficial to learners with learning difficulties.
Massively multiplayer online games rely on a diverse range of skills from multiple players. Players have the opportunity to specialise in a particular skill and contribute to the game. Enjoyment is often derived by the commitment to a common goal and the affiliation with others revolves around this commitment regardless of individual differences (Gee, 2005). Forums, cheat sites, game wikis are learning communities that evolve when players have a shared interest and are part of a participatory culture (Turkay, 2014). In a socially inclusive classroom problem solving, sharing and discussion could leverage different modalities of expression to suit different students.
My concerns about using video games in schools and libraries are beginning to diminish as I become more aware of the relationship video games have with learning theories, learning principles and participatory culture. My next big challenge is to identify games that are suitable for libraries and classrooms.
James Paul Gee from New Learning Institute on Vimeo.
Becker, K. (2010). Distinctions Between Games and Learning: A Review of Current Literature on Games in Education Gaming and Cognition: Theories and Practice from the Learning Sciences (pp. 22-54). doi:10.4018/978-1-61520-717-6.ch002
Cologon, K. (2015). Inclusive education means all children are included in every way, not just in theory. Retrieved from http://theconversation.com/inclusive-education-means-all-children-are-included-in-every-way-not-just-in-theory-45237
Gee, J. P. (2005). Good video games and good learning. Phi Kappa Phi Forum, 85(2), 33-37. Retrieved from https://search-proquest-com.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/docview/235184729?accountid=10344
Turkay, S., Hoffman, D., Kinzer, C. K., Chantes, P., & Vicari, C. (2014). Toward Understanding the Potential of Games for Learning: Learning Theory, Game Design Characteristics, and Situating Video Games in Classrooms. Computers in the Schools, 31(1/2), 2-22. doi:10.1080/07380569.2014.890879