08 April, 2009

Virtual Gaming Worlds and Learning

One of the interesting thing about looking at using games in education is learning from the game designers. They know how to keep a player motivated to play the game, and to keep learning the complex rules and possibilities. This is especially noticable in a MMORPG like World of Warcraft where players talk about playing the game for 2-3000 hours.

I have a couple of questions that I'd like to explore. Firstly is there anything that educators can learn from game designers relating to motivation and learning, to feed into designing learning experiences? And secondly how can games (either out of the box, specifically created or altered for purpose) be used as a valuable part of a course or module?

To begin thinking about the first question, have a look at Jane McGonigal's talk at the Web 2.0 Summit from 2007. She talks about how, compared to games, reality is 'broken' and she asks how we can make reality work more like games. Games come with a clear goal and clear pathways to achieving that goal, and they give you good feedback on your actions. Most importantly though, games are designed to make you happy. Some attempts to capture these ideas for non-traditional gaming uses are Chore Wars (join my party!), Seriosity (to help an organisation deal with too much email), The Nethernet, and Cruel 2 B Kind.

To help start answering the second question we could listen to David Gibson at the recent Virtual Worlds Best Practices in Education Conference in which he talked about putting together a synthesis of ideas to help plan, implement and assess serious games. He tries to combine ideas from Prenky (2001) [EHU Library E-book Link - see page 52 for the list that is mentioned in the talk] about how the new 'Games Generation' thinks differently, with appropriate learning theory, an activity theory framework and Mislevy's assessment model.

If you want to explore these things further you might also want to look at:

[Image by mi2starsfan]

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1 comment:

Jacob Hartman's Blog said...

I believe that using education games can be very effective in education. It gives students an alternative to the normal pencil-paper assessments and activities. It enhances their learning experience by making such games stimulating and addicting to the students. Once they begin to play certain games they can't put them down. If educational games could be found that have the same addicting effects as MMORPG games like World of War Craft, then student learning would become very efficient and effective. The students would be so focused on the game because of a student's natural competitive side. This type of focus is an excellent way to foster learning.