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Gaming

Description of Activity: Although still somewhat controversial, gaming involves the use of interactive feedback generating computerized gaming programs in order to educate. Interactive and immersive virtual worlds are a key.

Appropriate Content Areas: Usually used in elementary education, but can be adapted to higher levels. Useful in management, business, military, and social science education as examples.

Goals & Objectives:

The core components of educational gaming reflect the following objectives.

  • learning can be fun,
  • gaming as experiential learning,
  • gaming as an opportunity for discovery,
  • a possibility for social exchange through multiplayer systems,
  • personalization through programming, and
  • additional core learning objectives such as mathematics or language mastery.

Prerequisites:

Instructor must model a lesson within or around the use of a software application. This application must be available to the students.

Materials and Resources:

What needs to be prepared in advance by the teacher? The assignment description.

What does the student need to bring to the lesson? The willingness to participate and access to the required software.

Guiding Questions for this Activity:

Depends on the overall purpose of the activity, but a general guiding question would be, how well will the students be able to solve dilemma x using application y.

Activity Outline and Procedure:

At the beginning of a course, students are given the opportunity to acquire or gain access to the required gaming software. When appropriate, an activity will be designed whereby the students utilize the software towards a given purpose. Using the tools provided by the software, the students try to accomplish the given task. The game is usually synchronously.

Teaching Strategies:

  • Learning goals should be made clear so that students know what they should be learning from the given gaming event as well as what their achievement will be measured by.
  • Most serious or educational games allow for multiplayer, providing for an opportunity to create and assess collaboration.

Accommodations:

What accommodations may be needed for students with disabilities or other special needs? The software used or the activity itself may need to be altered to accommodate those with special needs. For example, a chatting application within a virtual realm will need to be accessible to text-to-speech software for the blind.

Timeline:

Not including the time required to master the software, the time frame of a single activity may be as small as 15 minutes. An educational goal should be accomplished within one hour.

Ideas for Activity Evaluation and Teacher Reflection:

How did the students like the lesson? End of semester evaluations should ask about the usefulness of such activities. Ideas for improvement may be suggested.

What did the students learn? Some method of analyzing student achievement must be built into the activity. Often, dialogue will be primary data for assessment as well as game performance. The game may be more of a teaching/learning activity rather than assessment strategy.

Additional Readings:

Here is just a small selection of resources on gaming in education. Key search phrases include "educational gaming" or "serious gaming".

A list of serious games can be found in the following Wikipedia entry: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Serious_games

 

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