INF541 Assessment 1 – Blog Post

Impact of games on education and learning

There is an increasing amount of evidence showing that electronic gaming can be beneficial to students in some subject areas (Lieberoth, 2017; Smith, 2016) however, more study needs to be done in this area.  One area of study that could be explored is the optimal amount of time for a student to spend on video gaming, as excessive time spent in front of a screen can impact on sleep (Zajac, 2019) – and we know that lack of sleep is detrimental to learning.  As Wilcox (2016) points out, recreational video gaming won’t have a positive impact if gaming time is taking away from learning time.

 

Online Gaming can boost my school performance - Cathy Wilcox cartoon
(Wilcox, 2016)

Cooperative gaming (whether an electronic game or a traditional, tabletop game) builds twenty-first century skills of cooperation, communication and critical thinking as players work together and negotiate conditions and gameplay (Miller, 2012).  Furthermore, following the consequences of choices is part of systems thinking, and systems thinking in games helps students think about systems outside games (Farber, 2019a). Electronic games have research-proven benefits that tabletop or traditional games do not.  Some benefits to electronic games in the classroom include immediate feedback, the ability of games to adjust difficulty based on achievements or levelling up, no need to wait for someone to play (unlike most traditional games),  and there is not one skilled player dominating the game (Turkay, Hoffman, Kinzer, Chantes, & Vicari, 2014).

Challenges to Incorporating Gaming

While many teachers believe that the fun aspect of serious gaming enhances learning outcomes, research on the topic doesn’t support that (Iten & Petko, 2016), showing that perceived fun and engagement had minimal effect on test scores.  Incorporating electronic gaming into the classroom requires technological knowledge and a thorough grasp of the curriculum (Share, 2009) and many teachers lack that knowledge.  Share (2009) also examines how the interviewed teachers, who were part of a pilot program for incorporating media literacy across the curriculum, have decreased their teaching of media literacy after the grant for the pilot program ran out, citing lack of time and money as major factors.

Technology in its early days is notoriously unreliable.  We know that devices may no be charged, they may need updates or, for whatever reason, may not “behave” in the way we expect them to.  What if the technology doesn’t work? I’ve noted in other blog posts about my experience in an educational technology workshop where a lot of time was wasted on technology that just didn’t cooperate.  These sort of experiences make teachers reluctant to implement technology in the classroom.

My goals for this subject

I have some questions that I would like to answer for myself, over the course of the subject.  I would like to answer:

  • What if someone doesn’t want to play? Does it cease to be voluntary, and they have to “play”? Or should we provide them with an alternate activity? Thanks to June Wall (Wall, 2019) for the inspiration for this question.
  • Where is the line between games and not-games?  Jordan Shapiro, author of The New Childhood, doesn’t see Minecraft and Scratch as games but rather “digital play” (Farber, 2019b, para. 4.). Is Minecraft a game?  Is it sometimes a game and sometimes not?  Does it matter?  Can Scratch and Minecraft be a part of Game Based Learning?
  • Are games an effective use of classroom time? It takes time to learn the game, play the game often enough to learn from it and synthesise ideas to other areas – is that a time-effective way to teach? (Becker, 2011)

References

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

Farber, M. (2019a, January 24) The benefits of constructionist gaming. Edutopia. Retrieved from https://www.edutopia.org/article/benefits-constructionist-gaming

Farber, M (2019b, February 8) Digital play for serious learning. Edutopia. Retrieved from https://www.edutopia.org/article/digital-play-serious-learning

Iten, N., & Petko, D. (2016). Learning with serious games: Is fun playing the game a predictor of learning success?. British Journal of Educational Technology, 47(1), 151-163.

Lieberoth, A. (2017, October 18) Are computer games a teacher’s friend or enemy? Science Nordic. Retrieved from http://sciencenordic.com/are-computer-games-teacher’s-friend-or-enemy

Miller, A. (2012, June 25) Game based learning to teach and assess 21st century skills. Edutopia. Retrieved from https://www.edutopia.org/blog/game-learning-21st-century-skills-andrew-miller

Share, J. (2009) Voices from the trenches: Elementary school teachers speak about implementing media literacy. In Tyner, K. (Ed.). (2009). Media literacy : New agendas in communication. Retrieved from http://ebookcentral.proquest.com

Smith, B. (2016, August 8) Computer games have an edge in the classroom: Study. Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved from https://www.smh.com.au/technology/computer-gamers-have-an-edge-in-the-classroom-study-20160808-gqnbhc.html

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. https://doi-org.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/10.1080/07380569.2014.890879

Wall, J. [junewall] (March 4, 2019) Q1. What do you do about those who don’t like games? #INF541 [Tweet] Retrieved from https://twitter.com/junewall/status/1102494568224714752

Wilcox, C. (2016, August 8). Untitled Illustration. Sydney Morning Herald.  Retrieved from https://www.smh.com.au/technology/computer-gamers-have-an-edge-in-the-classroom-study-20160808-gqnbhc.html

Zajac, B. (Producer) (2019, March 1)Devices and LED globes are more damaging for our sleep than we first thought (podcast). ABC Radio National. Retrieved from https://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/lifematters/sleep-and-blue-light/

 

One thought on “INF541 Assessment 1 – Blog Post

  • 31st March 2019 at 10:24 AM
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    Liz, it would be interesting to have a conversation about whether learning time is different from gaming time – if the game is designed as a learning activity. Test scores may not reflect a positive view of gaming, but the arguments for gaming are usually based on the 21c learning skills of collaboration, problem solving and commuincation which tend not to be tested in the usual assessments at school. However, you raise a crucial point of how GBL could be used and what it needs to be worthwhile. I will be interested to see how your views of GBL are framed at the end of the semester.

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