Thursday, March 9, 2017

Gaming to Learn by Learning to Game


Did you think that video games were just for passing time in your living room? Think again.

How many of you are actually gamers or have a gamer in your house? It's almost 70%.

Let's explore how we can use an already popular past time and turn it into an important activity in the classroom?

Learning is about building new sets of knowledge, skills, and attitudes. Learning doesn't happen unless the learner is feeling a sense of accomplishment. Accomplishment turns into fun. "Fun is just another word for Learning" Raph Koster

Volkswagen explored this theory in their Fun Theory experiments.  
  • Visit their website and watch some videos of the finalists in their contest to use fun to teach/motivate people to do things.
Gamers
Most of you are part of a gaming generation and your students will see gaming as just a part of life. As millennials, you spend a great deal of time outside of class problem solving, exploring, and questioning. You bask in being challenged. They crave immediate feedback on how well you achieve. You have access to information and tools like no generation before. This is even more true with the students you will teach. We can't approach teaching and learning using the same paradigm that we have in the past. In the following article, Simpson explains what you need to consider when working with gaming generations.   
Saving the World
Jane McGonigal talks about how gaming can change the world. She estimates that we spend 3 billion hours per week gaming. She supports the idea that gaming induces problem solving and innovation. She suggests that we need to game 21 billion hours per week to solve the world's problems.
Gamification
Gamifying education seems like too much fun for the classroom.  How can games support learning?  Interestingly, there are a number of aspects in gaming that we see in the learning process as well. Gamifying Student Engagement by social studies teacher, Matthew Farber, describes how Leveling Up, Modding, and working with the in-game economy are also important parts of an effective learning process.

Optional Reading about World of Warcraft:
Based upon a student's request, here are a couple of references about how Peggy Sheehy used World of Warcraft in her 6th-grade class.

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Your Choice Assignment*  
AFTER  you have reviewed ALL of the resources above, I am going to ask you to complete a serious assignment . . . Play Kingdom Rush or Food Street for 60 minutes. 

This is NOT about playing a game.  It is about learning how gaming can relate to learning and then testing it out on your own.

Kingdom Rush is a tower defense game where you place defenses and use those to repel invaders.
Food Street is a restaurant simulation and management game that puts you in charge of your own business. 

Both of these games are available for iPhone, iPad, Android, PC and Mac.  Just Google their names and you will find where you can download them.

Based upon what you have Read and Watched, consider the process of gaming:
  • How does it relate to learning? 
  • How does this change your ideas about gaming?
  • Think of the thought processes you go through to problem solve throughout the game.
*It is your choice if you want to do this assignment. You won't earn any more points for it but think of how cool it would be to play a video game for homework. =-)

SUGGESTION:  You might want to write a couple of paragraphs about the insights you gained by playing a video game after Reading and Watching the resources that you just experienced.  How did this relate to learning?  How did some of the points mentioned in the resources emerge while playing the game?  

We will be introducing blogging in a few weeks and you could post these reflections as your first blog posting.

HAVE FUN!!!

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