Mechanics of Game Based Learning Reflection

3D Game Lab

As a middle school teacher, I am fully aware that many of my students would much rather play with an Ipod, IPad, Xbox, DS, Wii, or other gaming console.  Through these activities students feel instant success, on some consoles they can collaborate with each other as is the case with MineCraft or WOW.  How do we get this much excitement in the classroom?

  • One way is creating competition.  For some students a sense of competition is engaging, this can be done in the form of review games such as jeopardy, student response systems often have games build in, and goal setting in the classroom.
  • Games also show progress bars toward an overall goal.  Student like to know when is it going to end, or when do I level up.  This gives them feedback that they are working towards something.  They don’t seem as concerned that the progress bar may reset when they level up.   It is simply gratifying that the blue bar moves closer to the other end with each action.  Clickers give the instant right and wrong which motivates most students in a classroom setting and then the data can be used to set future goals.  There are free cloud based assessment tools that do this well such as: ASSISTments.
  • There are often rewards or badges students can earn in gaming environments as well.  This can be done in a tradition system with giving students some kind of token for successful work completion that can be turned in for extra recess or another event.  All of these things bring the fun factors of gaming into education.

At the root of gaming is feedback.  There is a lot of positive feedback built in to keep the gamer plugging forward toward the goal.

After viewing, Jim Gee’s video regarding the need for a paradigm shift I would agree that one is necessary.  I have done a lot of research about using technology in education.  Most experts would agree that the current educational system was designed for the 1800s.  The students of today have been conditioned through their media rich environments to learn in a much different way.  When students come to school educators are using many method that were originally designed for a world that is drastically different then the one in which we live.  Let alone the job market our current students will be entering upon graduation of the educational experience.  The means doesn’t match the ends at this point.  As Gee points out, we are mostly teaching facts in education.  This may be in part to state testing or just out of habit of this is how it has always been done.  Gee suggests we need to move toward a problem based model.  Which is what gaming offers to our students?  In most games there is a problem or a quest to be completed and a reward when things are done.  The paradigm shift is to make education more of a problem based world where students go through more trial and error, collaboration, and revision to get to the end result.

You can view Gee’s video below:

The difficult part as with any change is that change is a process.  It is a process that is often long and takes time.  For educators, at the forefront of this idea of Gaming in the classroom there is a long road ahead in getting the buy in.  However, as with the games we love playing, we will continue to gain experience to influence the change and collaborate to do so for the benefit of our students.

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