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Video games have ‘role in school’

From The BBC:

"The survey found 59% of teachers would consider using off-the-shelf games in the classroom while 62% of students wanted to use games at school."

Brain games aim to boost your IQ

BBC reports on another craze in Japan: brain training games.
"Dr Kawashima's Brain Training comprises a variety of mini-games designed to give brains a workout. Activities include solving simple maths problems, counting people going in and out of a house, drawing pictures on the Nintendo DS touchscreen, and reading classic literature aloud into the device's microphone. Players are given a brain age reflecting their performance. Over time, your brain age should get younger as you achieve better scores."

Good Experience Games

Mark Hurst has made a listing of online games that in his opinion offer a good experience: "good game design with an overall attention to quality".

Can video games stimulate academic learning?

Cognitive Daily writes about the impact of games in the classroom by describing a study done in Chile. The study also draws attention to the type of games that are likely to have an impact (as opposed to plain edutainment types).

"The children who played video games were more motivated, more likely to pay attention in class, and substantially less likely to be disruptive. Teachers, even those who were initially skeptical of the program, recognized significant improvements in the classroom, and asked to be able to continue using the games in all their classrooms."

Decision Games

Here's Jay's account of a project that I'm associated with: decision games. This term was coined by Gary Klein, in his book, Power of Intuition. Decision games are high impact learning events that are aimed at getting learners to practice decision-making skills that are to be exercised in ambiguous, uncertain events such as project management, risk management, competition analysis, emergency management, disaster management, etc.

Together with KM experts, Straits Knowledge, I'm involved in developing decision games that combine Gary Klein's work with intuitive decision making and Dave Snowden's work with narrative analysis to elicit knowledge from expert practitioners (as opposed to subject matter experts). What results from these techniques is a far cry from what is possible by just analyzing subject matter. (Malcolm Gladwell's Blink gives a good account of the kind of knowledge that can be elicited through these techniques.)

I will post more on this method at a later date. By the way, if you are wondering where I feature in Jay's article, it's with Pebble Road, my company. Yes, I've finally started out on my own. The website is a little bare right now, but will post more when I get the time.

Video games can improve performance in vision tasks

From Cognitive Daily:

C. Shawn Green and Daphne Bavelier of the University of Rochester conducted a study in which they found that avid video game players were better at several different visual tasks compared to non-gamers.

Note that visual tasks are different from manual dexterity tasks, which video games are known to enhance, and action video games are better at improving visual tasks than space or logic-based games (e.g. Tetris).

Learning by Doing : A Comprehensive Guide to Simulations, Computer Games, and Pedagogy in e-Learning

Clark Aldrich is coming out with a new book this April:

"Designed for learning professionals and drawing on both game designers and instructional designers, Learning by Doing explains how to select, research, build, sell, deploy, and measure the right type of educational simulation for the right situation. It covers simple approaches that use basic or no technology through projects on the scale of computer games and flight simulators. "

Educational Games Don’t Have to Stink!

Nice article on the misconceptions that link gameplay to teaching:

My heretical view is simply this: computer games don't teach. I think the idea that you can teach using computer games is based on a flawed analogy between gameplay and learning. Here's how the analogy goes. Players of games have to overcome obstacles in order to achieve victory. They do this by learning the weaknesses, or limitations, of the opponents they face. Similarly, students learn knowledge in order to pass tests. So learning a fact is equivalent to defeating an enemy, and passing a test is equivalent to achieving victory. And a great many educational games are created this way. This is a terrible way of learning! Why? Because in playing a game, the instant an enemy is dead, we forget him. We are only concerned with him for as long as it takes to beat him.

In short, it's my belief that games don't teach, they illustrate. That's an important distinction. Games are not useless in the educational process, but they're not good at teaching per se. Games are good at creating understanding of knowledge the student already has. And they're excellent at transforming abstract ideas into concrete experience. Games don't teach, but they can help people learn.

Read the article for a list of suggestions for using games as teaching tools. [Caution: Irritating 'free' registration process awaits, if you are not a member already]. You can find more on gaming and learning here.

Why Use Computer Games For Learning?

Robin Good on the use of games in classrooms. He builds on an in-depth report (PDF file) on this subject by the Learning & Skills Development Agency (LDSA) in UK.

Serious Games Summit

Here's a bunch of resources from the Serious Games Summit whose "overall charter is to help forge productive links between the electronic game industry and projects involving the use of games in education, training, health, and public policy." [thanks infodesign]

Play Games, Be Better Students?

Yet another push for using video game type of engagement in classrooms, this time from the Electronic Entertainment Expo conference. To quote: "group of 350 game designers, educators and government officials think that games can be used as a tool to teach critical thinking, and in the process, improve American education."

Learning Lab Denmark: Games as roadmaps to the knowledge society

Learning Lab Denmark: Games as roadmaps to the knowledge society

Games allows one to practice in context: "Learning is placed in a context that the pupils find relevant. When they acquire new pieces of knowledge, they do so with the aim to use that knowledge in practice. The purpose of understanding the development stages of maggots, for instance, is to determine the time of death of a murder victim. The purpose of learning to do a chemical analysis of gunpowder residue is to determine who fired the weapon."

Greg Costikyan: The 300 Games Every Game Developer (and Gamer) Should Know

Greg Costikyan: The 300 Games Every Game Developer (and Gamer) Should Know

"There are several reasons why I think it would be useful. For one thing, I (and everyone who comes into contact with game design wannabes) am often shocked at how ignorant such people often (not always) are--how limited their experience with games. In some cases, they don't even seem to play games at all; in others, their experience is limited to a very narrow range of games."

This would make Clark Aldrich very happy. In his book, Simulations and the Future of Learning, he devotes an entire chapter describing games that the readers should play in order to get into the flow of simulations
[thanks Mark Bernstein]

Wired: Educators Turn to Games for Help

Wired: Educators Turn to Games for Help

"People will object to games that have a variety of choices because they can't limit the choices their children make. However, if you remove that type of ambiguity, you've removed any sense of morality from the game because there are no consequences to bad decisions."

First Monday: The impact of digital games in education

First Monday: The impact of digital games in education
"This paper is based on the idea that virtual learning is central in current society, and that the key aspect of this kind of learning is not so much technology itself but the interaction of the learner with the technology. Virtual learning environments offer many advantages: Flexibility, distribution, and adaptability. However, there is another domain with tremendous potential for reaching, motivating, and fully involving learners: The world of games. We believe that games constitute the most interactive multimedia resource in our culture today."

Slashdot:  Videogames, Learning, And Literacy

Slashdot: Videogames, Learning, And Literacy
"This is really just the very beginning for games as learning tools. Years ago, in cognitive science seminars, it became clear that the best 'artificial' way we had to instill learning skills was through simulation. This is still true, and remain so for some time. Really, games are immersive, simulative, experiences. They will become more immersive, and sophisticated (in terms of simulation) as time goes on, processors get faster, broadband becomes a non-issue, and designers realize that learning can be fun."

Scientific American: Video Games Good for Visual Skills

Scientific American: Video Games Good for Visual Skills
"Through a series of experiments, C. Shawn Green and Daphne Bavelier of the University of Rochester determined that habitual video-game players were better able than non-players to focus on visually complex situations, keep track of multiple items at once and to process fast-changing information."

eLearn Magazine: Playing to Learn: Blending Learning with Stories, Games, Toys, and Simulations

eLearn Magazine: Playing to Learn: Blending Learning with Stories, Games, Toys, and Simulations Blended approaches to learning, which mix play and other techniques in a variety of media, help ensure that we are engaged, attentive, and fully involved in the process through which we master knowledge. By

BBC: Video games ‘stimulate learning’

BBC: Video games 'stimulate learning'
The UK study concluded that simulation and adventure games - such as Sim City and RollerCoaster Tycoon, where players create societies or build theme parks, developed children's strategic thinking and planning skills.
- BBC (11/26/01): Learning games do not boost results: And while the use of computers in data handling and simulations were seen to make a positive impact - there was little sign that pupils who played educational games made any greater progress.

BBC: Learning games do not

BBC: Learning games do not boost results
And while the use of computers in data handling and simulations were seen to make a positive impact - there was little sign that pupils who played educational games made any greater progress.

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