Category Archives: INF541 Assessments

‘Tis better to have played and lost then never to have played at all

A critical reflection

I came to #INF541 – Game Based Learning ready to be challenged and was not disappointed. I had read and studied Prensky and had  read some of Karl Kapps work about Gamification so was up for a new style of unit, especially as I wanted to employ some of the information into training  I currently deliver.

Early on I set myself a personal goal of creating a resource about a gamer and their perspective on games with a feature on Ingress (Niantic Labs, 2015). I set this personal task so that I could explore not only the game but also see some of the drivers and motivations behind why people play games, which has given me much material to reflect on. It was slightly more difficult than I imagined as I had chosen a hardcore Ingress (Niantic Labs, 2015) player as my subject. He was very forth coming with his views, I only wish I had the time to do a series of video pieces as it was fascinating. This self-imposed task  had me filming, writing questions, and editing the film a whole new set of skills bagged thanks to #INF541, surely that means I level up!

I have developed a richer understand of games and the role that all forms of gaming can have in an educational context. The critical review exercise was challenging and made me drill deep into distinctly different papers. This was extremely difficult, but it made me feel comfortable about refusing to accept on face value what is said but to confront, and counter the arguments as my points are fair and valid.

Twitter conversation about #GBL between @aus_teach and @Yvette_elearn March 18, 2015
Twitter conversation about #GBL between @aus_teach and @Yvette_elearn March 18, 2015

The practical and experimental activities including virtual field trips has my learning experience a rich, dynamic and rewarding one. These field trips along with the immersion into Ingress (Niantic Labs, 2015) has had, I feel, the greatest impression on my thinking about games. I can use and demonstrate game based learning to colleagues in the Vocational Education and Training sector from first-hand experience of the technologies, warts and all, and have a wide selection of robust tools and literature that demonstrates the effectiveness of game based learning.

Simulations have excited me, especially immersive serious simulations that learners are engaging with the content to build skills for the workplace. Simulations and serious games where the trainer can actively redesign the scenario for students to be challenged every time they use the simulator are an exciting prospect for me, especially where the problems are designed for the student to be challenged but can achieve or ‘win’, unlike the Kobayashi Maru,  are  an exciting assessment prospect for VET.

Yet the most critical point for me in the adult learning space is that I need to be able to train VET trainers to facilitate pre and post game or simulation debrief sessions (Moore & Pflugfelder, 2010) and help them learn how to deal with the loss of control in being a ‘guide on the side or meddler in the middle’ rather than the ‘sage on the stage’ (Day & Kumar, 2010).

It frustrates me that the VET sector has come so far with elearning and yet there is still a chasm of thought around the use of games based learning, and it really does not matter what type of game you are referring to: serious games, commercial off-the-shelf games or simulations to support student outcomes there will be considerable pockets of resistance. As this is a major issue for the VET sector I wrote my final assignment around implementation of games for organization and trainers. For this I sourced as many examples as I could find of effective use of simulations to support training, as I personally feel simulations will be the first acceptance point for VET trainers.

Thanks to this unit I feel that I have grown my knowledge base and personal understanding of GBL. My next self-imposed challenge is to turn that knowledge and understanding into a productive output for the VET sector, which will be for a sector win.

 

 References

CBS Studios Inc. (2014). Kobayashi Maru. Retrieved from http://www.startrek.com/database_article/kobayashi-maru

Day, J., & Kumar, M. (2010). Using SMS Text Messaging to Create Individualized and Interactive Experiences in Large Classes: A Beer Game Example. Decision Sciences Journal of Innovative Education, 8(1), 129-136. doi:10.1111/j.1540-4609.2009.00247.x

Moore, K., & Pflugfelder E. H. (2010). On being bored and lost (in virtuality). Learning, media and technology, 35 (2) pp. 249 -253

Niantic Labs (2015). Ingress [Android software]. Retrieved from https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.nianticproject.ingress

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

Reflective blog task 2: Collaboration an important gaming bond

In the world of adult education ‘games’ are seen to be frivolous, however, solid authentic learning can be achieved through learner engagement via games or simulations and we should not discount the use in a training situation.

Gee (2005) points out that the formation of cross-functional teams is important in a MUD (multi-user domain). The team must work together to achieve a common endeavour, which means that they must work collaboratively and effectively to achieve the common goal.

In the training environment or even workplace gaming Perkins (2009) says that gaming can provide a sense of community to players, this community feel is extremely important when building a supportive learning environment within a classroom context.

In a training environment role-playing simulation players can ‘fail’ in a safe and supported way, and in turn learn from their failures both as a team and as an individual (Farmer, 2011). The important part of this learning is the engagement in a simulation with either a live team on the learning journey with the individual or by a team built into the game. This engagement provides the necessary feedback mechanism the student requires to improve performance by working through the various challenges in the simulation.

A well planned learning simulation will react to the user and provide feedback and new problems (Gee, 2005). A good simulation currently used in adult workplace training is the FLAME SIM (Flame-sim.com, 2015) software. It is used to train fire departments worldwide in effective collaboration and communication to reach the team goal – the fire being controlled and eventually put out. This software has a level of flexibility and complexity built in and can also have specific scenario modifications programmed by the lead trainer. Being in real time it provides the players an authentic learning task that requires effective team work and collaboration. At the end of the online session the lead trainer then debriefs with the learners regarding performance and issues.

Keramidas (2010) pointed out good games require design structures that put players in experiential learning situations with the right constraints for learning from experiences. In a training environment if we can provide a ‘safe’ learning experience (especially for high risk workplaces) where base level skills are mastered and demonstrated prior to going into the actual learning experience then this is can be lifesaving. By learning the importance of effective communication in the situation via a simulation can save lives in the workplace and goes a long way to building an affinity group through this shared experience.

Simulations and games can provide the avenue for peer-to-peer teaching (Farmer, 2011), which supports the building of a life-long collaborative learning style. The crucial difference between a ‘commercial game’ and an ‘educational game or simulation’ is that the latter provides support for the player/learner to increase the likelihood that the desired objectives are met, bet it as an individual or through collaborative cooperative learning (Becker, 2011).

Digital games and simulations are not just ‘fluff’ used simply to pass the time in a class, but can form part of an enriching learning experience that supports training and education. Being able to choose authentic learning simulations (Reeves & Herrington, 2010) which encourage peer-to-peer work and collaboration, both within the simulation and offline, in a cross functional team offers a powerful learning tool that is, if managed well, able to support students learning and understanding of content.

To me this is a win for the students and a win for games and simulations in the classroom.

 

References

Becker, K. (2011). Distinctions between games and learning: A review of current literature on games in education. In Gaming and Simulations: Concepts, Methodologies, Tools and Applications (pp. 75-107). Hershey, PA: . doi:10.4018/978-1-60960-195-9.ch105

DVHS,. (2009). FLAME-SIM Fire Training. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vUa5BdHrPTY

Farmer, L. S. (2011). Gaming in Adult Education. In Gaming and Simulations: Concepts, Methodologies, Tools and Applications (pp. 194-213). Hershey, PA: . doi:10.4018/978-1-60960-195-9.ch111

Flame-sim.com,. (2015). Flame-Sim | Fire Department Training Simulation Software. Retrieved 23 March 2015, from http://www.flame-sim.com/

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

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

Keramidas, K. (2010). What Games Have to Teach Us About Teaching and Learning: Game Design as a Model for Course and Curricular Development | Currents in Electronic Literacy. Currents.cwrl.utexas.edu. Retrieved 21 March 2015, from http://currents.cwrl.utexas.edu/2010/keramidas_what-games-have-to-teach-us-about-teaching-and-learning

Perkins, B. (2009, November 2). World of warcraft in the workplace. Computerworld, 43(32), 30. Retrieved from http://go.galegroup.com.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/ps/i.do?id=GALE%7CA211959076&v=2.1&u=csu_au&it=r&p=EAIM&sw=w&asid=69d75258ac24be5d98a8c8d2747fe822

Pill, S. (2014). Games play: What does it mean for pedagogy to think like a game developer? Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance, 85(1), 9-15.

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