EDTEC 532 Can Gaming Change the World?

This quest assignment was to view Jane McGongial’s Ted Talk and reflect upon it.

Play and learning go hand in hand. Young children learn through exploring play and trial and error. For example a child trying to put blocks in a shape cube. They may try every hole of the shape cub until the figure out which shape match which hole. Students play games and change their behaviors or paths they choose based upon certain outcomes so they can level up or ultimately beat the game. For years teachers have been using simulations from companies such as INTERACT to engage students in the learning process. Although these have not traditional been digital the merits of this gaming experience excites learners and rewards based on progress throughout the journey of recreated experience. Through reflection of these hands on experiences students gain a higher level of understanding the content because they have experienced it first hand.

Imagine a school report card with progress bars on them rather than letter grades, number if grades, or ranking of satisfactory, outstanding, and needs improvement. What if in order to get to the next academic grade (which is the equivalent to leveling up in the gaming world) only happened when you earn so many points, badges, and defeat the boss at the end of the level essentially saving the world? In a gaming environment there is this idea of constant feedback. As the progress bar of a game inches it’s way across the screen the player feels success. Making them want to continue to be successful. Can this be harnessed in the classroom? Absolutely it can. Given the fact that I have used 3D GameLab as a classroom teacher in this model I have seen first hand the power of progress model in action. I have seen students work harder, more engaged in learning, better grades, and less missing work in the model than they would using a pen and paper.

The parallels of games and schools comes down to the time spent gaming vs the time spent learning. By age 21 the average person spends the same time gaming as they would if they had perfect attendance from 5th grade to 12th grade. Today’s students are becoming experts at gaming because of the time spent engaged in these activities. If people spend this much time devoted to saving the world then we can change the world.

According to Jane McGongial there are 4 things games provide that make the players successful. Within game play there is a social component of collaboration and competition that keeps players motivated and moving forward. There are urgent decisions that need to be made in many game situations that are time sensitive resulting in quick decision making given a breadth of information presented in the gaming environment. Given the focus and collaboration of gamers they are very productive and happy in these virtual worlds. The possibilities of the gaming world make environments of epic proportions with millions playing each and everyday. These sort of things are what each and everyday classroom teachers battle to harness in students to move them forward, gain new knowledge, and solve the problems of tomorrow.