Being a gamer myself…and someone who not only grew up with video games and seen the emergence of games mirroring the emergence of technology…I understand the culture and the environment, and certainly the potential games can have to inspire students and get kids more integrated with learning.
One of the things I hear when I talk to schools about the possibility of gaming is that everyone understands it's the potential. I see the same sort of excitement I saw with technology's emergence in the classroom 15 years ago about the potential of bringing game-like experiences to schools.
I think initially what schools think about is the concept of simulation. And we see this today with basically Web examples and science experiments that can be done with simulation. That's somewhat game-like in terms of the ability to actually create interactive experiences that students can learn from. They can see the results not only in a safe environment, but also a low-cost environment as opposed to having to buy science equipment, etc. You can dissect a virtual frog in a virtual reality space as opposed to actually having a real frog to dissect. So it saves not only money for schools, but it really creates a much more rich visual experience for students. And I think that will continue to be a main feature of gaming.
However, one of the challenges is we've got to go further with regards to the way gaming can really influence learning, and leverage the concepts and lessons learned from gaming. One example is to incorporate the language of gaming and the way in which students recognize achievements…they get compelled to move through a game based on accomplishing milestones, scoring points, etc. We do this today with report cards, but I think we can really inspire students in game-based examples.
I mentioned earlier in the blog Ribbon Hero because I think it does a good job of connecting achievements to a simple thing like learning how to use Office…which may be one of the more complex things for a teacher or student at first, but Ribbon Hero helps students progress through the concepts, rewards them for challenges they complete, tests them to go further and show off their score with others and compare their score with their friends, etc.
All of these are concepts that come from gaming, and I think schools can learn from the language of gaming as opposed to actually just trying to do the simulation approach, which is not only being done by content providers, but more expensive for a school or teacher to do on their own.
I was really excited to meet Adrian Sannier a couple weeks ago at our U.S. Public Sector CIO Summit. For the past 4+ years, Adrian’s been Arizona State’s University Technology Officer, and next month he’s leaving ASU to join Pearson eCollege. We had a great time talking about the possibilities and potential for gaming and education and the way in which schools can think today to enhance their curriculum and their approach by using game-based techniques.
Watch the video below and please share how you are thinking about incorporating gaming into your classrooms.
I work at UNESCO Santiago Office, training school leadership in Latin America. In the 90's we utilize a simulation game calls "Escuela Esperanza de Palmares" (Hope School from Palmares) to train public school directors on management and leadership issues. Palmares is a fictional very low income Republic, and the Hope School is the worst rated school in the country. The simulation challenge to groups of school directors to discuss and make decisions to improve different aspects of management and leadership, while a mathematical model rate their decisions. At the end, the game presented the results in a graphic with two trends:the tendency and the change due to the decisions. It was developed in Visual Basic.