Balancing Act: Gaming, Learning, Enjoying

After finally making my way through Wesley Fryer's posts on NECC 07, I discovered his post on lessons from video games. Fryer shares his thoughts on video games, both from a parenting and educational standpoint. The post touches on variety of issues (some I'll come back to in another post), but one is about the idea of balance. Fryer states:

As human beings, we generally need to seek “balance” in everything we do. Most things, taken to an extreme, can take on a negative and harmful influence.
This holds true for me both as a parent and as an educator. It is important to balance the time my sons spend gaming, but the balance is not different than any other media. In fact I'm more inclined to tip the balance in favor of video games (over TV) given the nature of the the interaction.

Balance in education and information literacy is also important. This summer I am discussing information literacy with my co-workers and planning for the fall. In these discussions, I am not focused on bringing more gaming applications and strategies into our program. I am focused on how to make our program more active, engaging and meaningful for the students. Yes, I believe video games are a component in the success of that focus. But only one of many components that can make our instruction more meaningful and successful for our students. That awareness allows for a balance in lesson planning that keeps library sessions unique and engaging.

The idea of balance and not using video games for sake of video games, is an idea I've touched on before. And I'm not alone. Raj Boora just wrote a well developed post that supports this same idea of using games effectively and appropriately.
Even though games are great for some instructional purposes, they are not the be all and end all. If they are not used in an appropriate context, they have no value. So the trick is to understand those contexts, and these contexts do not include “edutainment” that forcefully grafts “learning” into a game. Kids don’t like the overt learning that is forced on them, not many people do, people like to feel that they are, on their own or with little help figuring out things.
Boora's final five paragraphs of his post provide his main argument about the successful application of games in education. Thank you Mark Wagner of Education, Technology & Life for the link. His article is worth the read, and Mark's blog is an excellent resource as well.

As we plan, create, and use video games in our classrooms and library instruction, we need to consider these issues. Why do we want to use video games and gaming strategies? If the pedagogical reason is something more than, "Because they're fun," then we are moving in the right direction.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the great comments there - the portion that you quoted was as much belonging to Chris Melissinos who presented the keynote as it was my own.

Paul said...

Thanks for the clarification, Raj.