AppCampus

Tech Doesn't Teach… But it can Help

Archive for the tag “games”

Oh Balls – Kansas is not Eastern Standard Time

I’ve been waiting all day for the 4pm webinar on “Measuring the Educational Value of Games: How to be a better advocate for GBL” from edWeb. (http://www.edweb.net)

But, as it turns out, my expectation that all times are  given as EST and that’s where I live.. was wrong. I keep forgetting that I’m in Kansas now. And Kansas is NOT on the East Coast.

As the founder of DownHouse Software, I’m interested in learning how to go from designing and making a game to actually putting it to work in a classroom and determining not only whether it works, but why does it work – or why not. Also, does using a game as a means for teaching substitute for classical lecturing? does it complement it? Does it detract from it?

Earlier this year, I submitted a grant to the National Institute of Health asking for support for the company’s development of the game and assessment within local classrooms. I have a couple simple games that are designed to teach a few core concepts of biology that I was eager to get made and into the classroom. Unfortunately, the grant was not funded, but I don’t give up hope that it could be in the future.

What brings me to wanting to hear this webinar is that when I spoke to the program officer in charge of this grant, his major concern was that I was able to demonstrate -not whether we could make the games – but that we could assess them afterwards.

 

 

Why Video Games Can Achieve Educational Objectives

Video games have several key features that make them attractive as a means to meet educational objectives. Primarily, games are intended to be enjoyable pursuits and video games have achieved this to amazing success leading to $65B of gross revenues in 20115, a figure surpassing that of the motion picture industry which grossed $10.2B that same year.6 In addition to their appeal, video game design has evolved to incorporate a number of features demonstrated to be successful as pedagogy.

One advantage of using games in the academic space is that they commonly employ a self-paced model of ‘concurrent chaining’ in which tasks are first presented in their simplest forms, but gain complexity following each player success. This approach has been shown to be successful compared to other methods of teaching by continuously involving the player in trial and error testing and thus providing more interaction and engagement with the teaching device compared to lecturer-based education alone. 1,2

A second feature of video games is that they specifically engage players by the use of storytelling – an art as old as human culture itself. Story is central to the way that people grasp the events of their lives and as such, it is vital that education be delivered in this form in order for it to make sense and be memorable. 3

However, engagement is only valuable inasmuch as it affords greater academic gains or improves attitudes towards a subject or learning in general. In an assessment of students enrolled in an undergraduate Physics course, learning outcomes were greatly improved by any implementation of interactive learning. 4

The challenge is to provide software that is 1) interesting enough to students for them to actively engage with and explore and 2) of high enough quality that this engagement is not achieved at the expense of the educational purpose. Few games achieve both of these goals simultaneously. Presently, much of the educational software market is awash in flashcard / random quiz question generators that provide test preparation without any attempt at engaging the student. Likewise, entertainment games give short shrift to scientific principles of any kind, instead inventing new rules for nature that serve only the interests of the game without providing any educational content.

 

Together, these features describe a successful means of improving education and, possibly more important, the enjoyment of education. At long last, having ‘computers in the classroom’ may provide a real, measurable benefit aside from assuring parents that technology is being used and that we assume this must lead to some improvement… we hope.

 

 

 

 

 

1.     Graesser, A. C. & Person, N. K. Question Asking During Tutoring. American Educational Research Journal 31, 104–137 (1994).

2.     Peck, A. C. & Detweiler, M. C. Training Concurrent Multistep Procedular Tasks. Human Factors 42, 379–389 (2000).

3.     Zabel, M. K. Storytelling, myths and folk tales. Preventing School Failure 32, 28–41 (1991).

4.     Hake, R. R. Interactive-engagement versus traditional methods: A six-thousand-student survey of mechanics test data for introductory physics courses. American Journal of Physics 66, 64 (1994).

 

5.      Reuters- http://uk.reuters.com/article/2011/06/06/us-videogames-factbox-idUKTRE75552I20110606

6.      Boxofficemojo – http://boxofficemojo.com/studio/?view=company&view2=yearly&yr=2011&p=.htm

 

 

Why Technology in the Classroom Anyway?

The AppCampus Blog is premised on the notion that technology in the classroom is a good thing that educators should embrace, but why?

Here, I argue that technology (and gaming in particular) is a central part of many people’s lives. Games are the most embraced part of technology by younger generations and, over time, older generations have accepted gaming into their lives as well. Leveraging this interest to teach STEM subjects is vital to engaging students and improving global competitiveness.

Game use has increased not only in absolute number of users, but also in penetration of older age-group markets and amongst female users. A Pew Foundation report on teens and video game-play found that “nearly one-third of all 12- to 17-year- olds report playing video games every day or multiple times each day, and three-fourths report playing at least once a week.” The reach of video games greatly outdistances the number of students graduating with STEM bachelor’s degrees and may thereby extend the penetration of science instruction outside of the classroom. 1,2          Further, the reach of videogames into the older demographics has climbed such that more than half of all adults play video games of one kind and seniors are reported to play, on a daily basis, more often that all other demographics. 3

The public’s embrace of technology and gaming provides an opportunity for STEM education to reach out to students and the public at large. There exists an opportunity to seize the opportunity that mobile device technology offers to engage students of all ages in a form of entertainment that integrates education into the game seamlessly into an integral part of young people’s lives.

Despite the primary role the US has played in many technological achievements of the 20th century (including developing nuclear power for war and peacetime use and putting a man on the moon), the US is no longer a leader in STEM subjects. The 2011 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) report found that the proficiency of US students in Math is lower than many other developed nations including Iceland, Estonia, Poland and Slovenia. 4

Improving performance in STEM subject education will improve competitiveness in the world market. This connection is no hypothetical assumption lacking objective evidence, data from Hanushek et al shows a direct correlation between academic performance and Gross Domestic Product, suggesting that further improvements in education can have beneficial economic consequences. 5Considering the primacy of technical job skills in the current labor market, it follows that STEM education may be a driver of this relationship.

The use of interactive, multiuser games promotes not only collaborative-, but also active– learning. Together, these techniques improve student involvement and retention by instilling a sense of personal responsibility for the material. 6,7 Further, using mobile games immerses students in science and meets them in a technology that is a central part of their lives.

 

Alltogether, games-especially those played on mobile devices- should be part of a comprehensive approach to education because they engage students in science in such a way that is vital to capturing the imaginations of scientists-to-be.

 

 

                       

 

References

 

1.     Mayo, M. J. Video Games: A Route to Larger-Scale STEM Education? Science 323, 75–79 (2009).

2.     Lenhart, A. et al. Teens, Video Games, and Civics. Pew Internet and American Life Project 1–76 (2008).

3.     Lenhart, A., Jones, S. & Rankin Macgill, A. Pew/Internet: Adults and Video Games. Pew Internet Project Data Memo 1–9 (2008).

4.     Peterson, P. E., Woessmann, L. & Hanushek, E. A. Globally Challenged: Are U.S. Students Ready to Compete? 1–48 (2011).

5.     Hanushek, E. A., Jamison, D., Jamison, E. & Woessmann, L. Education and Economic Growth. Education Next 1–10 (2008).

6.     Bonwell, C. C. & Elson, J. A. Active Learning: Creating Excitement in the Classroom. ERIC Digest. 1–5 (2012).

7.     Johnson, D. & Johnson, R. Active Learning: Cooperation in the College Classroom. (Interaction Book Company: Edina, MN, 1991).

 

Post Navigation