This was my first written assignment in ETEC 526 Games and Simulations. It was a bit frightening for no apparent reason I was just nervous about taking it because I knew nothing of games except for board games. This will be a brand new experience for me and I am concerned that it will be over my head and beyond my ability to learn well.
The method of teaching today’s youth using “classical education is no longer seen as adequate preparation for success in life” (McClarty, Orr, & Frey, 2012). These researchers further state that these “taxonomies and frameworks highlight the growing discrepancy between current educational outcomes and the skill sets needed to succeed in the quickly shifting world.” Gee (Gee, 2011) in an interview by Jenkins stated for someone to have an interest something must draw them into the door and to further that interest to some depth they will need to have lots of practice and persistence past failure to go further and develop a passion and a desire to learn more. That’s what games do for learners. It kindles the fire to learn more and to master what Gee calls the “passionate affinity space.” Bill Gates (Gates, 2005) stated: “Training the workforce of tomorrow with the high schools of today is like trying to teach kids about today’s computers on a 50-year-old mainframe.” It is important that future generations are prepared for job markets of tomorrow, and an excellent tool to reach that goal is the use of games.
Gaming draws the learner in and challenges their thinking while developing creativity. Games, as defined by Salen and Zimmerman (2004), is a “system in which players engage in artificial conflict, defined by rules, that results in a quantifiable outcome.” So many children and young adults engage in these types of challenges for fun and relaxation, but while they are engaging in these activities, there is serious learning on many levels taking place. Games are built on sound learning principles that are taken from the research of such child developmental psychologists as Ginsburg (2007), Bodrova & Leong (2003), Zigler, Singer, & Bishop-Josef (2004). They offer young children an opportunity to play through the use of simulated environments that they can manipulate in some form that serves as an integral part of the learning process. These games teach 21st-century skills that are needed for our rapidly changing global society. They force the participant to think through strategies, formulate methodologies and assess situations to come to a final ending. The use of rewards, bonuses, and graduation to varied levels help to keep them motivated and involved.
The Onion video, a hypothetical scenario was played out as to what video games are teaching our youth if the case of an apocalyptic society where to take place. Are the skills being taught through video game simulations preparing them with life skills that will be transferable in that type of event? Through light-hearted, it brings up some serious thought as to what types of skills that can be transferred to help humanity survive. The broad and varied types of games can answer that question easily. Games are created with real-life situations that must be addressed and solved before moving into a higher more skilled player level. These levels give the gamer an opportunity to bring in other prior knowledge that helps to develop and increase their metacognitive knowledge. (Vygotsky, 2006)
What learning can happen from playing games?
According to current research, the application of games can encourage—or require—students to apply deeper levels of knowledge and skills (Bloom, Englehart, & Furst, 1956). It can tap into students’ recall, or basic demonstration of skills, games, and simulations can present students with more authentic environments to demonstrate strategic and critical thinkings according to McClarty’s report (McClarty, Orr, & Frey, 2012). In Clark and Ernst’s article on Gaming Research for Technology Education base on the current popularity of gaming, it is believed that gaming possesses qualities that can be used to motivate struggling students in danger of dropping out of school (2009). In Hitchcock's study, he concluded that computer-based simulation/gaming instruction increased motivation, attention, and retention of learning (2000). The survey that corresponded to this study showed that gaming could be a useful tool for gaining and maintaining student interest in all areas of STEM education.
In conjunction with the video from the New Learning Institute by Constance Steinkuehle, her response to this learning phenomenon was that teachers should think of learners as a community of individuals vested in learning and accomplishing a unified goal that would empower them to be in control of their level of learning. The nature of this style of learning helps students to press deeper and to learn more based on their interest. There is still a need for direction by the educator, but it should be limited without excessive instruction. She foster’s the direct hands-on method that is decided by the student's interest levels.
Bloom, B. S., Englehart, M. D., & Furst, E. J. (1956). Taxonomy of Educational Objectives: the Classification of Educational goal: Handbook 1 Cognitive Domain. New York: David McKay Company.
Bodrova, E., & Leong, D. J. (2003). The importance of being playful. Educational Leadership, 50-53.
Clark, A. C., & Ernst, J. (2009). Gaming Research for Technology Education. Journal of STEM Education, 18, 25-30.
Gates, B. (2005, February 26). National Education Summit on High Schools. Retrieved from http://www.admin.mtu.edu/ctlfd/Ed%20Psych%20Readings/BillGates.pdf
Gee, J. P. (2011, March 23). How learners can be on top of their game: An interview with James Paul Gee. (H. Jenkins, Interviewer)
Ginsburg, K. R. (2007). The importance of play in promoting healthy child development and maintaining strong parent-child bonds. Pediatrics, 119, 182-191.
Hitchcok, A. A. (2000). Improving learning retention of knowledge, and attitude of students in a vocational-technical college through interactive computer technology. Fort Lauderdale-Davie, FL: Unpublished practicum paper, NOVA Southeastern University.
Nona M. Batiste is a forty-year experienced public school teacher who has taught in both New Orleans Public Schools and Dallas Independent School District. She holds a B.S. in Education from Southern University of Baton Rouge, LA and a Master of Science Teaching (MST) from Loyola University of New Orleans, LA. Ms. Batiste has taught Environmental Science and General Science to middle school and high school students. She has been active in both school districts as a master teacher and workshop presenter.