EDU 625 Unit 5 Reflection

Key Issues and Concepts

Unit 5 allowed for the opportunity to explore the value of gaming in an academic setting.  Although I am currently not a ‘gamer’ I do recall playing Atari back in the 80’s where I could be found playing Asteroids or Pitfall for hours on end.  Why was I compelled to play for so long? What kept me engaged? I think this week’s readings and outside research articulates well why I found my time with Atari so playful yet informative.  The problem solving that occurs at each level of play challenges the player to continually strive to ‘figure things out’ and succeed.  It’s almost addictive in a way but Reiser and Dempsey (2012) liken this to the same problem-solving steps that occur in the scientific and engineering methods.  Solving these problems might not have the same meaning or context if there wasn’t continual feedback-an essential game element according to Prensky (2001). Couple this with an interesting storyline and physical interaction with the environment and the game can allow a player to feel completely absorbed in the experience.  Even further, gaming according to Reiser and Dempsey (2012) allows one to feel ‘…free to try new things or to experiment with different ways of doing or thinking” (p. 322).

Image

(picture taken with permission from http://www.creativecommons.org)

My Experience in this Unit

For my Learning Challenge this unit I downloaded and installed Quandary to create a maze for which training for Microsoft OneDrive could occur.  My attempt was simple but it took quite a while for me to feel comfortable with how the program and sequencing worked.  I was not impressed with its capabilities or with its degree of user-friendliness.  But, I must say that once I understood how it worked I could see how it could be very useful in helping someone learn.  Click here for a few screenshots to get a flavor of what Quandary looks like and how it could be used to deliver content.

Observations and Questions

Gaming is essentially non-existent in the district I work in however there is some simulation software that is used and even created at the high school.  I think the main reason why gaming hasn’t been fully adopted is because there is still literature that finds the effects of gaming on educational success as inconclusive (Pearson, 2012).  Additionally, I believe that teachers have ‘new’ pressures like the Common Core State Standards that are being implemented now and preparation for state testing (practice) is scheduled to occur this spring.  If that’s not enough, there is the new teacher evaluation mandate that has been adopted by the state of CT which has added another layer of pressure and tension to the everyday climate.  I think if our staff/district had the opportunity to research and understand gaming more they might feel differently and consider ways to integrate within existing curriculum.

Currently, I do not have any plans to infuse gaming as I honestly still don’t know enough about it and would not be able to predict how my participants might respond nor would I fully understand how to evaluate what they have learned.  And if you are trying to convince educational institutions that your game has merit, it needs to be in alignment with educational objectives and standards.  According to Liu (2011), game designers should “Consider teaching as the primary goal and use games as accessory tools” (p. 1332).  Overcoming some of these obstacles has a lot to do with finding the appropriate tools to satisfy your needs.  There are a plethora of online tools that can be used to incorporate audio and video, for example, into a simulation or learning experience.  Identifying the most appropriate tool and finding time to explore it might be the most challenging obstacles of all.

Image

(picture taken with permission from http://www.creativecommons.org)

Conclusions

I see gaming not as the center of instruction, rather as an enhancement or supplement to desired outcomes or objectives.  The ability to engage and capture the interest of students in a different capacity is a tremendous asset and I believe gaming can do just that provided it is used in tandem with other forms of sound instruction.

Resources

Quandary2: http://www.halfbakedsoftware.com/quandary.php

Reference

Pearson. (2012, June). A literature review of gaming in education . Retrieved from http://researchnetwork.pearson.com/wp-content/uploads/Lit_Review_of_Gaming_in_Education.pdf

Prensky, M. (2001). Digital game-based learning. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Resier, R. & Dempsey, J. (2012). Trends and issues in instructional design and technology. (Third ed.). Pearson.

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