Customization and Gaming are the New Learning Paradigm:
• Customization is new normal: from your credit cards to your coffee, you can now have almost anything your way.
• Technology is now making things more flexible, not less flexible. While there are still plenty of bad call center systems, technology can also customize our experience: press 1 for English.
• Gaming is the perfect paradigm for learning. Games were asks how we can we make higher education more like a good game and sums up the elements of gaming we need to emulate:
Customization different types of learners, diff ways to play, diff levels
Risk Taking – games lower the consequences of failure
Performance Before Competence—games don’t require an instruction manual (think textbook).
Pleasantly Frustrating—games offer engaged learning. They are challenging, but doable.
Interaction — Games are a constant stream of feedback and reaction.
Agency and Identity– Learners want to see the results of what they do and feel control over their environment.
Challenge and Consolidation –Games force learners to explore thoroughly before moving on.
Situated Meanings –Students learn better in contexts and games teach through situtations.
“Just in Time” or “On Demand” – Games deliver information and concepts only as needed.
Examples of Educational Games
Nephrotex Epistemicgames.org undergraduates role-play as engineers in a fictitious company to design a next-generation dialyzer that incorporates carbon nanotubes and chemical surfactants into the hollow fibers of the dialyzer unit
Air Medic Sky 1, designed by University Medical Center Utrecht in the Netherlands: a patient safety game in which doctors learn how to control their own physiological stress responses to avoid patient harm.
Virulent from the Morgridge Institutes for Research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison: allows players to experience what it takes to infect a cell, replicate and escape to infect other cells
Revolution : multi-player game which puts players into historical events in Williamsburg on the eve of the American Revolution. Designed to be played in a 45-minute classroom session in a networked environment.
Reacting to the Past (RTTP) elaborate history games from a wide variety of periods and cultures from Athens in 403 to India in 1945 designed by Mark C. Carnes at Barnard College. These have been implemented at over 300 colleges and universities with overwhelming response. At Dordt College in Iowa, students needed more time to complete the game before the end of the semester and volunteered to come 30 minutes earlier to every remaining class. The class already met at 8AM!
Selene, free from Wheeling Jesuit University’s Center for Educational Technologies : geologic processes that formed the moon
Layoff, free from The Tiltfactor Center at Dartmouth and the Rochester Institute of Technology Game Design and Development program: banking bailout of 2009
More free games:
www.gamesforchange.com: games for social change
www.nobelprize.org: discoveries of Nobel Prize winners
http://edugamesresearch.com: Education Games Research
Many of us are very creative when it comes to pushing the boundaries of our discipline, and pushing paradigms for learning is equally creative and perhaps even more important work. Almost every campus now offers some assistance with educational technology. While there are good web tutorials on how to program in Java or build an iPhone app, most faculty would be well advised to create games by finding the right partners and support on the campus.
Start with a small unit about a unit of content that sounds like it will work well as a game, perhaps a skill:
• balancing chemical or mathematical equations
• doing stock evaluations
• prepping for surgery
• tuning your guitar
• identifying an autistic child
• classifying species, cars, food groups, or gender roles
• managing a crisis
• designing a business card
• identifying works of art or molecular orbitals
• putting together a band in 1910 New Orleans
• reading maps
• understanding a foreign languages, or
• building a microphone
The most important part of creating a game is creating the rubric. What do you want students to learn at each level and how might the levels correspond to grades? Then consider how the game will teach the new content. How will experimentation be rewarded? What kinds of mistakes are students likely to make, and how will the game correct them?
All of these small games were developed by faculty working with university technology groups. Links to games and more detailed explanations can be found at www.teachingnaked.com:
• Violence Counter: Students watch a first person shooter game demo or trailer and press a button every time they think they see a violent act or encounter. At the end of the activity the player’s score is compared to the actual number of violent acts.
• Morphology of the Folktale: Students select from 160 narrative elements in a storybook interface using generic graphics and make a movie telling a story in their own words. Other students view the movies and analyze which elements are being used to tell the story.
• Stage Make-Up: Students apply virtual stage make-up to a photo to make themselves look older.
• Simple and Complex Matrices: Students interact with a series of animations designed to help students visualize patterns in a finite mathematics course.
• World History Timeline: Students view a series of interactive maps that show changing political boundaries and cultural artifacts.
Think also about making the creation of a game a class project. You may have students with skills in game development and this will allow them to integrate what they are learning in your class with what they know from another.