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.