Adapting to New Higher Ed. Challenges

I love the college where I work. There is a devotion and caring for the students and their well being that I really respect and appreciate, and a day like Thursday, really helps remind me of that. I spent most of the day Thursday in a faculty and staff seminar/workshop on success of at risk students from under served demographics.

My background in politics and teaching are paths I chose to help people succeed, and this topic is a wonderful extension of that. There was a variety of ideas and actions points discussed. Some of which myself and the other librarians will be trying with our students this semester. But there were a few statements about higher education trends that applied to us here about the use of video games.

Robert C. Dickeson, one of the presenters, is a researcher and policy analyst for higher education. He discussed 7 trends within higher education, 3 of which apply to using games within education:

1) "Not taking advantage of innovation"
He discussed about a gap between teaching research and actual practice, and that this gap leads to the lack of innovation. Using games and game strategies bucks this trend. Video games in the classroom is taking advantage of innovation. It is a growing area us as educators and an innovation that our students consider second nature. While all our students are not gamers, surveys show that the vast majority have tried a video game and all had some exposure to games. As I'm trying to show (and have found in my own applications) that using games and game strategies is a great innovation that results in more engaged and motivated students.

2) "The trend of decreasing quality"
There is a trend of a lower level of commitment by the students for the content discussed within classes. Again, games are part of the solution to this trend. One reason for this lack of commitment is that students are not always engaged with the content. If they do not care about the content, they often do not care about the class. The creative use of games in a variety of classes can help engage students and get and keep them interested in the content. If the students care about what they are doing and are committed to it - the quality of their work should rise.

3) "Too few students are prepared to particpate and complete higher education"
Here again, games can be part of the solution. If our classes are filled with a variety of students all at different levels of ability and preparedness, we as teachers/instructors need to find ways to connect with all our student. Games are one medium that almost all students have experience, regardless of socio-economic backgrounds. As I stated above, games can and should be used to help increase interest and engagement from students who traditionally struggle. Video games can also be used to help bring those under prepared up to an average level. Games are self directed, naturally assessing and engaging - all 3 are good qualities for a tutorial. Using games to help increase skills, also encourages discussion with the student about their progress, challenges and successes.