Videogames in the Classroom? - Newsweek Education -

Some mainstream media coverage on the Federation's report on education & video games.

Videogames in the Classroom? - Newsweek Education - "“When you show a child a traditional educational game, they’ll roll their eyes,” says Kay Howell, a coauthor of the study. “But I don’t think they roll their eyes because it’s learning; I think it’s because there’s such a huge and obvious gap in quality compared to what they play at home.” "

I love that quote. That is where most educational games go wrong. Powerpoint Jeporady and quiz games miss the mark of really USING games to teach. Don't get me wrong, quiz games are good for mixing up review activities and as assessment/evaluation. But there is more that we can use games and games strategies for. It's what games do and what they ask us to do that is useful, not just hiding learning in something "fun."

Game Features = Educational Features

Okay so when I said I would post again "“later tonight"” two days ago I was referring an old druid calendar. Sorry. I’m wrapped up in studying (read: CRAMMING) this week for my comprehensive exam on Saturday. But I did start looking through the powerpoint summary, it'’s a lot easier to read eating lunch than the full 40+ page report. I did put together a few comments and ideas last night before I went to bed and since they still look good in the light of day...

The list below should be no surprise to any one reading some of the literature on gaming strategies in education, but the report is giving it broader coverage. The comments on each feature identified by the report are mine.

1. Clear learning goals: What every educator strives for. What are the students walking out with? What do I want them to know? In planning any lesson/instruction session it is important to know what the goals/objectives are.

2. Practice opportunities: Homework. We teach and want to give students the chance to practice those skills and demonstrate understanding and mastery. If only homework would be as fun or at least as captivating as games, or at least that's the complaint typically heard. Education research into gaming strategies is trying to do just that…

3. Monitor progress, provide continual feedback: Sounds like assessment and evaluation to me. What level are you on? What'’s your score? Did you find that item? Switch "level"” with "“chapter"” and these all could be reference questions.

4. Move player to higher challenges: Upper division courses, sequenced classes, even moving students from popular magazines to scholarly journals does this. Players are used to having the challenge increase in later levels in games, but not always in education. In a game they value the process (playing) and the end product enough to keep going when the challenge increases. The amount of value (or lack of) placed on the process and product in education is an important discussion for another time, but one that is necessary in relating gaming strategies to education.

5. Encourage inquiry and questions: How many times have you stood at the front of a class waiting for someone to ask a question, or answer one. How can we bring the same type of probing inquiry and exploration from games into library instruction? Research is all about probing, but unlike a game, it is usually seen as a hurdle and hassle in reaching the end boss (or final draft).

6. Contextual bridging: We are always looking for “real life” applications of the concepts that we are teaching. Why evaluating sources is important in your daily life? I'’m always working on showing applications of what we are doing and how it is relevant. Games continually do this. In a game, you learn a new skill or get a new item and a new area is accessible to you. There is a direct application of that skill that entices the player to try it out.

7. Time on task: Anyone that'’s seen that stats that show students rarely move beyond the first page in Google or EBSCO know that a little more time (combined with some of that inquiry in #5) would do everyone a lot of good.

8. Motivation: Need I say more…

9. Scaffolding: A favorite educational theory of mine that I'’ve gone back to time and again in my Library Science program and in my daily work. Educators build on previous experience and knowledge and introduce new material that expands the existing understanding.

10. Personalization: Not a huge learning concept, but the ability for a student to control their own pace and growth is beneficial for students learning and testing new concepts. Like anything, when the user feels ownership they are more invested. Ever encourage a student to pick a topic that they are interested in? Personalization.

11. Infinitely patient medium: If only databases and their "“time out"” limits would be as patient.

Combine patience with the motivation (#8) to practice (#2) and you have a pretty successful student who continues to challenge(#4) themselves and explore (#5) new ideas. Sounds good doesn't it… Stick around.

Summit on Educational Games

Summit on Educational Games

Here is the direct link to the report from the Federation of American Scientists. Later tonight I'll start (1 of 4 posts) some of my thoughts, comments and applications to the findings.

Lots of good info that fits nicely into the mission of this site: using games and gaming strategies to help students learn and research.

Column Idea - update

EDIT: Okay, thinking about this idea for the past few days I've started to realize who my audience is. This column idea was first thought of as directed at gamers and would allow me to get practice writing before doing something for educators and librarians. But really, why would should a gamer care? They already care about games. I'm out to get others (educators) interested in using games and gaming strategies not those already emersed in those experiences.
I think the column is still a good idea, but I need to adjust it for the correct audience. Oh, and getting people to read it would be a good thing too.

It's 2:00 am and I'm up kicking around ideas and can't sleep. Here's a column proposal that I've been thinking about for the past few days... thoughts?

The "Rotting" Brain (suggested title, but open to ideas)

Ever feel the need to defend gaming to others? Have you heard the not so subtle "Oh" or "Huh" comments in a social setting? Whether or not you care is a separate question, but for those times that you want video games to raise above entertainment, The "Rotting" Brain is here to help.

There is a growing body of literature about the positive impact video games and gaming, but much of it is authored by scholars and researchers. The "Rotting" Brain is a column written by a life long gamer and researcher analyzing the positive aspects of our passion.

The "Rotting" Brain column analyzes what video games are teaching us. As far back as playing Moon Lander on the Commodore VIC-20, video games had something to teach. Throughout each generation of consoles, video games not only evolved in graphics and gameplay, but in the content of what they teach. The "Rotting" Brain looks at what games have taught us over the years and what they are teaching us today. The column discusses the scope of the current video game research and expands the current audience. The column discusses the positive educational aspects of gaming both through reviewing the current studies and through personal reflection. The "Rotting" Brain also refutes the impact of current video game studies with negative findings. Video games develop the mind, not rot it, and The "Rotting" Brain is here to show how.


I've been meaning to post this for a while, but it is hard to keep posting when I'm only talking to myself. I do enough talking to myself. Typing to myself only reminded me of how little I'm doing. But that's not entirely true... during the first eight weeks of our semester myself and the 3 other instruction librarians taught 148 information literacy sessions. I lead or assisted in 49 of the 148 sessions, or about 1/3. So that and 2 small kids has contributed to my lack of posts.

But really it's the talking to myself part, that just gets me. I relaunched this blog in the summer as a place to collect and sharpen my ideas. It sounded great, but really it means I think my ideas are important enough to write about. Now I believe that regardless of how important they are, just writing them is the start. I am also working on getting my name out in both gaming and education gaming blogsphere (I think that's the first time I wrote that buzz word, hopefully the last). The effort of getting my name out there, and maybe even some writings, means I've got to keep up the home front.

And so, as of November 1st, I will be blogging 5 times a week. Sounds good- yes, optimistic - certainly. But in order to follow through I'm setting forth this schedule:

Monday: Notes on Current Readings
Tuesday: Video Game Reflections
Wednesday: News Updates & Commentaries
Thursday: Game Strategy Applications
Friday: Analysis & Commentary on Current Research
Saturday: News Updates & Commentaries (yes that's 6 times a week... optimism right)

There it is. Laying down the person gauntlet. Until 11-1 though I'll still be sporadic since I'm finishing up a second master's degree.