I’m off to great places…
As a traditional teacher I considered myself as the holder of knowledge, and that knowledge was a distinct set of “correct” facts which the teacher imparted to the students (WoodsI’m off to great places…, 2014). Technology has changed society and as a result the 21st Century citizen needs a broader set of skills. I quickly realised that “most uses of technologies in schools today do not support these 21st Century learning skills” (Resnick, 2007, p. 22) but “game design … addresses the 21st Century learning skills required from students and offers a project-based, constructivist approach” (Caperton, 2010).
GBL could potentially remove the “sage from the stage” and put learners in control of their learning. Good games incorporate learning principles which are highly relevant to 21st Century pedagogy (Gee 2005). Initially I considered games to teach content, however it has become evident to me, they have the potential to achieve outcomes for students and develop the social skills which are neglected in our obsession with content and facts, building socially inclusive learning spaces.
The Australian Government funded a research project to gather an understanding of the employability skills needed in the 21st Century. The resulting Employability Skills Framework (2006) identified a number of personal attributes that employers valued; namely, communication, teamwork, problem solving, initiative and enterprise, planning and organising, self-management, learning, and technology.
Shaffer (2006) presents the opinion, with which I concur, that students can transfer what is being learned and experienced in playing a game to other aspects of their lives. “Games are this generation’s mode of discourse” (Salen, 2013), a form of problem based learning (Miller, 2008) and a powerful preparation tool. Games give rise to empowered learners who explore more (Gee, 2012), who confidently take risks (Anderson, 2012), and are capable of complex social interactions and deep understanding (Gee, 2013). The Fun theory resonated with me and I started to rethink my ideas about games, play and fun.
In an attempt to list what players learn through play and how games function as pedagogic texts, I realised that the skills required in the Employability Skills Framework, could serve as a comprehensive summary. Games teach communication, teamwork, problem solving, initiative and enterprise, planning and organising, self-management, learning, and technology.
The work of James Gee (2013) presented insight into the value of games for learning, he justifies convincingly how games can “teach people to solve problems and become good learners”.
He identifies 3 categories of good learning principles which games use to engage learners. When considering how to justify the use of GBL in my context, his argument that; games empower learners because they choose to engage, teach problem solving skills which develop effective 21 century citizens and create deep understanding that lasts and prepares them for future learning, is highly credible.
Having been convinced of the value of GBL, I was still concerned with how games worked and how they can best be integrated into the classroom.
I realized that effective integration depends on a range of factors including; the choice of game, the context in which it is played and the influence of the educator’s attitudes. I broadened my horizons about the possibilities of hand held games, mobile devices and Augmented Reality.
I would consider myself one of the teachers who was, “prone to overlook the crucial role they play in how games are experienced and responded to” (Beavis et al, 2014). My focus until this point,was only on the game and deployment.
In a senior school with a trade focus, I began to recognise the importance of my role and the significance of this unique context. Research into the use of games in education has developed my understanding of learning (Miller, 2008), about information behaviour and how to design rich learning environments that provide for experiencing, doing and knowing. (Tyner, 2009). I need to enable learners to cooperate in shared situations and solve authentic problems, collaboratively.
I am convinced that GBL can develop the skills for the 21st Century. I am confident in this constructivist approach to integrate problem solving into learning. I recognise that the best games to use are those suited to my context, which appeal to my students. I believe that “creative technology use may hold vast potential for transformative learning (Daud, Mustaffa, Hussain, & Osman, 2009) and I will continue to engage in PLN like Twitter to learn and share.
Australian Government. Department of Education and Training. (2016) Bridging document. Core Skills for work. Retrieved from https://docs.education.gov.au/system/files/doc/other/csfw20-20bridging20document.pdf
Beavis, C., Rowan, L., Dezuanni, M., McGillivray, C., O’Mara, J., Prestridge … Zagami, J. (2014). Teachers’ beliefs about the possibilities and limitations of digital games in classrooms. E-Learning and Digital Media, 11(6), 569–581. doi:10.2304/elea.2014.11.6.569
Edutopia. (2012, March 21). James Paul Gee on learning with video games [Video File]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JnEN2Sm4IIQ
Edutopia. (2013, July 30). Katie Salen on the power of game based learning (Big Thinkers Series) [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wk_OfUHpCbM
Miller, C. T. (2008). Games: Purpose and potential in education. Boston. Springer Science & Business Media.
Navarrete, C. C. (2013). Creative thinking in digital game design and development: A case study. Computers & Education, 69, 320–331. doi:10.1016/j.compedu.2013.07.025
Resnick, M. (2007) Sowing the seeds for a more creative society. Learning and Leading with Technology, 35 (4), 18–22
Shaffer, D. (2006). How computer games help children learn. Science Education, 92 (2), 378-381
Tedx Talks. (2012, April 24). Classroom game design; Paul Anderson at Tedx Bozeman [Video File]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4qlYGX0H6Ec
Thorn, C. (2013, November 13). Jim Gee Principles on gaming [Video File]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4aQAgAjTozk
Tyner, K. (2009). Media Literacy: New agendas in communication. Retrieved from http://CSUAU.eblib.com/patron/FullRecord.aspx?p=465586
Woods, N. (2014). Describing discourse: A practical guide to discourse analysis. USA: Routledge.