David Williams

Lecturer - BSc Computing & Multimedia / BSc Business / Game Anal, Arvato

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Can gaming characteristics be used a a means of reaching a broader range of students in a class

As a facilitator of education or learning the hardest part is to assure to can communicate your message effectively to an entire class or group, yet a video game like Call of Duty can reach a target audience of 13.93 million who can pick up its intricacies with minimal instruction and self education to compete on a global level.

Are we as facilitators missing out, in that our audience has progressed to a new approach to understanding and should we as such not create a more versatile curriculum based around the involving and intuitive approaches to gaming to better reach our audiences.

sound, graphics, background and setting, duration of game, rate of play, advancement rate, use of humor, control options, game dynamics, winning and losing features, character development, brand assurance, and multi-player features, etc.

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    May 8 2013: Here are the twenty-two talks we have about using gaming, and attributes of gaming, to enhance learning.

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      May 8 2013: I was going to recommend those TED talks also :)

      Ali Carr-Chellman’s talk I think strongly relates to this conversation.

      And I’m a big fan of Jane McGonigal, you may be thinking what does mental health and problem solving have to do with education.
      Well I think mental health and problem solving should be part of education.
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        May 8 2013: Don't you think most people consider problem-solving a big part of education at all levels?
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          May 8 2013: Most people yes, but based on my personal appearances to most teachers education has been based on three things memorization, memorization, and memorization.
          By no means do I believe all schools and/or teachers do that, and kudos to teachers that do use problem solving.

          And “problem solving” is not the best terminology to describe her talk, maybe emotional motivation would have been better. I’m not sure how it should be phrased, whatever you call I like to see it used in education. http://www.ted.com/talks/jane_mcgonigal_gaming_can_make_a_better_world.html
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        May 8 2013: Could I ask in which city you went to school, Don, and roughly how long ago? I ask this because the only place I saw a chunk of memorization going on in my children's k12 public school educations was in some history and geography units and, of course, vocabulary in language classes. Most of what I have seen (and I have seen stunning amounts of homework around here) is problem solving, reading, and writing of various kinds.
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          May 9 2013: It was a typical Midwest steel town, over 30years ago. But considering it recently ranked among the lowest in the state, I’m thinking that is has not changed much.
          I know it not far to judge all schools base on one school district, but!
          Considering US schools low raking in the world, the high dropout rate, and when school kids were tested for divergent thinking, the low the grade the higher the score. (AI: first graders scored much higher then 5th graders)
          So it is fair to assume that too many schools are teaching student what to think and not how to think for themselves.

          Here is one article on the subject of convergent and divergent thinking. http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/beautiful-minds/201202/both-convergent-and-divergent-thinking-are-necessary-creativity
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          May 10 2013: Here in Ireland the focus is entirely on memorisation and rote learning. This trend is continued even to university level. Even a Bachelors Degree focus on the regurgitation of answers memorised for a final year exam, negating any growth or skill developed over the first 3 years.

          Its only at a Masters level (http://www.iihcs.com/graphics/FanDec2006.jpg), Level 9 here, where you would be on average about 22 years old that you would be actively taught and encouraged to ask why. This means we have people trying to enter the workplace on skills that they only know off by heart with out necessarily understanding them .

          The reason i focus my current research on games characteristics is that games drive a lot of self directed learning. There is a brilliant talk on here from Sugata Mitra (http://www.ted.com/talks/sugata_mitra_build_a_school_in_the_cloud.html) where he say a lot of this self learning and this was done with PCs and people taking it like a gaming environment. Not that they were just playing games but advanced learning was done with the support of sound, graphics, control options, winning and losing features, character development, and multi-player features.
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        May 9 2013: I know schools tend to concentrate on cultivating convergent thinking. But convergent thinking is not about what to think and is not related to memorization.

        Convergent thinking is analytical thinking, gathering information by reading, observation, experiment, and others means and then using critical thinking to determine what conclusions can logically be drawn, the sources of error, and the confidence one might have in results.

        Both convergent and divergent thinking are necessary in thinking creatively.

        When international comparisons are made and the US ranks toward the middle or lower among OECD countries, as the US does in the various parts of the PISA test, the tests are testing only convergent thinking, I believe.
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    May 10 2013: David, I am replying to your reply to me below. I am always surprised when I read how schools across the world still emphasize memorization and rote learning. It is very much not what I am familiar with in the many schools I have observed in my State or in the core standards I have seen of any state.

    I don't understand how, with widespread acceptance at an administrative and policy level that critical thinking and problem solving are the most important outcomes of schools, that a regime of rote and memorization could survive. From what you write I can only hypothesize either that these priorities have not yet taken hold at the administrative and policy level in Ireland or that there is a notion that cultivating those skills is important only for masters level students who benefit from lots of rote first. The latter view- that rote should come first- is not consistent with what is known with a high degree of confidence about how children learn.

    It's funny, because in the large District where I did all my k12 teaching, it is much more common for schools to want to hold to inquiry-based pedagogies which very much de-emphasize rote learning and for parents to push for more algorithmic sorts of learning to be pushed earlier.
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      May 10 2013: A big issue we have is that historically are schools where run by christian brothers who even up until the 80's still sometimes used the get the answer right or get the belt approach. After that the state took it over but kept all the traditional ideals.

      Now teachers are civil servant and it is not mandatory for them to be up skilled. The system itself doesn't even allow for it. Your university and college application come down to 1 final exam over 6 subjects given to you at the end of 12 years of school. No abstract views or practical experience, just 6 exams and an cumulative score across all subjects. This means is you are not good at language you may not get enough points to go learn engineering or art for example. And these curricula are not heavily or regularly updated.

      Until this approach can be changed we are kind of at a wall that restricts truly maximising the potential of future generations.
  • May 8 2013: I love the TED talks that are on here that are focused on gaming as a means to enhance and improve learning and education. I feel they are identifying a niche that has yet to be successfully filled.

    The issue with most educational gaming is, as someone pointed out earlier in this thread, that it's incredibly boring. But if you look at the advancements being made in some video games, you can find environments and worlds that immerse you in continually unfolding places which capture the imagination, and beyond. I see a game being produced like Destiny (http://www.destinythegame.com/) where developers talk about living, breathing worlds, where you create your own story, and how the environment will link back to knowledge of our own universe, I can't help but get excited. (Especially as a casual gamer) How can we create these same gaming experiences, and then leverage them to enhance education and our actual environment outside of the digital one? Especially since a good chunk of what makes a game good is problem solving and strategy, something that we could use to solve pressing issues. Not only that, but if we make great educational environments through video games, we could actually get more people excited about learning.
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      May 10 2013: I really like the question of should we do it, with the growing usage of digital over social interaction i had not considered the ethical standpoint of this question
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    May 8 2013: I have seen the reintroduction of rote learning through digital technologies and that is about all (the best part is pointing that out to educators and watch some of them deny, deny, deny - "oh no, rote learning is so last century").

    This gaming business is really only introducing a fun element to instruction. I like to think of it as the softening of the curriculum. Making school fun doesn't necessarily go hand in hand with effective (and some people will also point out that there are other ways to make education engaging without resorting to video games).

    I have seen many schools getting excited about introducing tablets and so on into their programme and then I have seen students playing games. That's about it.

    The concern here is: do students really engage with this sort of edutainment they way we assume they do? Watch a younger student deliberately click the wrong answer to watch the results (possibly just as effective as selecting the right answer). Do they actually figure out the what and the why of what they are gaming/studying or is it all rather surface?
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      May 10 2013: So if i understand, in essence your saying that the for the as user could effectually use any open tool to learn in variety of ways a learning facilitator would be essential and training validation would be of the utmost importance?
  • May 8 2013: The army is already doing this you could ask them for their results im sure its not top secret now,
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    May 8 2013: Freshman in high school here. This is a great idea. However, most of the "games" that are being developed with an educational aspect to them are usually incredibly boring. I think that educators certainly can make learning more enjoyable so that more people are interested, but it is very hard to merge entertainment and school (obviously not supposed to be entertainment). I'd rather learn for 1 hour and then play a match of Call of Duty than play a game where I have to answer a question to shoot.