Blog task 1 Are digital games being overlooked in ‘digital education’ reform?

I never have admitted to colleagues before, but yes I am a gamer. From the very basic hand-held version of ‘Pong’ called ‘Blip’ to the much cooler ‘Simon Says’ I have been into digital games. In the early 1990’s when you saved your money to upgrade from 4 MB of RAM to 8 MB of RAM simply to play ‘Sam and Max Hit the Road’. I vividly remember moving our lounge chairs into the study to play ‘Myst or Riven’ for the evening, yes quite simply I was hooked.

However, I could also see that games could be used by educators to have students explore concepts in different ways for example ‘Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego’ to have students demonstrate through puzzle solving their geographic understanding of the world.

Listening to Golding (2015) certainly made me think of the many different game types and styles I have used in the past and are still using now, both personally and as a launch pad of ideas in classes. As an educator my passion is for using technology in my teaching, where appropriate, while adhering to the moto; less screen, more green.

My current thinking on gaming in education is impacted on by my current work context, teaching adults in the VET sector to use technology to enhance training practices. As an educator of adults I am aware of the lazy stereo types regarding the abilities and motivation of older students (Jelfs & Richardson, 2013) and know that today’s adult students will use technology as a key part of their learning experience, which is why any ‘gaming tasks’ for education need to be authentic (Herrington & Parker, 2013)

The article by Jennings in the Sydney Morning Herald (2014) which discusses the ‘highly motivational’ aspect of games made linked to Herrington and Reeves’ (2010) reflection on how GenMe (Generation Me Twenge, 2006 students) are positively affected by the interactive games and simulations they have played. This makes GenME are open to having authentic simulation tasks, which mimic real world activities, in their training to enhance their learning and make them real world ready. It is an area that often the VET sector falls down on as games of any nature are often seen as frivolous and not meaningful learning experiences, where as if ill-structured problems of the kind found in the real world (Reeves & Herrington, 2010) are used as the basis for a simulation (utilizing gaming principles) then gaming in a VET classroom could be advantageous for student understanding

One aspect in this unit I am keen to explore is authentic learning through personal learning experience via branching activities. This is something that could be constructed in both digital and non-digital classrooms. An example of the branching activities that I am thinking of is the interactive YouTube video Choose a different Ending (2009). This was created by the United Kingdom Metropolitan Police Service to help combat knife crimes by teenagers. It is an authentic activity that steps the users through a series of choice and consequences.

I am also keen to explore the use of gaming principles in existing mainstream technology, such as Learning Management Systems, for simulated learning experiences for VET students via conditional release and badges. This work I also want to link to workplace learning and seeing how onsite work can also be included using gaming principles in an assessment strategy for VET students.

 

References

Broderbund Software. (1996). Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego (Version 3.0). The Learning Company

Cyan Worlds. (1993). Myst. Red Orb Entertainment.

Cyan Worlds. (1997). Riven. Red Orb Entertainment.

Golding, D. (2015). Games in Space. A Short History of Video Games.  Retrieved 9/3/15, from http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/shorthistoryofvideogames/podcasts/svg-1/5937684

Jelfs, A., & Richardson, J. (2013). The use of digital technologies across the adult life span in distance education. British Journal of Educational Technology, 44(2), 338-351. doi:10.1111/j.1467-8535.2012.01308.x

Jennings, J. (2014). Teachers re-evaluate value of video games, Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved from http://www.smh.com.au/national/education/teachers-reevaluate-value-of-video-games-20141130-11jw0i.html

Metropolitan Police Service, Knife crime and gun crime campaigns and videos. Safe.met.police.uk. Retrieved 8 March 2015, from http://safe.met.police.uk/knife_crime_and_gun_crime/campaigns_and_videos.html

Purcell, S. (2002). Sam and Max Hit the Road. Lucas Arts.

Reeves, T. C., & Herrington, J. (2010). Authentic Tasks: The Key to Harnessing the Drive to Learn in Members of “Generation Me”. In M. Ebner, & M. Schiefner (Eds.) Looking Toward the Future of Technology-Enhanced Education: Ubiquitous Learning and the Digital Native (pp. 205-222). Hershey, PA:. doi:10.4018/978-1-61520-678-0.ch012

Twenge, J.M. (2006), Generation me: why today’s young Americans are more confident, assertive, entitled – and more miserable than before. New York: Free Press

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