Game On

Next week I will be returning to Liberty University for my second intensive class. These classes run for five days with some pre and post course work for three hours of credit. Based on my experience last summer intensive is the proper term for this experience. Yet, these are fun because I get to meet and work with new people in a traditional classroom setting. The class I am taking next week is Technology Practice for Instructional Improvement, which should be an interesting one for me.

One of the pre-course assignments is to select a team for a literature review based on the following topics: augmented reality, game-based learning, mobile devices and apps, and personal learning environments. While Personal Learning Environments looked interesting, I selected Game-based Learning because the topic intrigued me since I first heard about it a few years back. I was told games, especially electronic ones, have certain characteristics. One, a player must learn a new skill or demonstrate a skill to progress to a new level. Achieving new levels take practice and critical thinking skills we desire in our classrooms. Two, players naturally collaborate in working towards new levels. One experienced player passes on skills to other players or multiple players work together to solve the problem needed to progress. Again, another desired trait we wish all students showed in the classroom. The best part is players (usually their parents) pay for this engagement and do it willingly.

When I was in the army we used computerized battle simulations for the Bradley Fighting Vehicle to great success. We also played role-playing games which helped in teaching various tactics needed on the battlefield. I casually observed my son playing video games over the last few years I noticed how he had to problem solve and collaborate to enjoy his games. When we played the Nintendo DS game Animal Crossing together I got to see first hand how he wanted to collaborate with me so I could learn what I needed to succeed so I would have fun playing with him. I also noticed how he could channel his creativity to enhance his game-play experience.

While not every lesson should become a game, there could be benefits to Incorporating both traditional card or board games or electronic games on a computer or massive multiplayer online (MMO) games into some lessons for potential maximization of engagement. It is going to be about two to three years before game-based learning achieves any real potential as their quality begins to match consumer-oriented games. The idea of game-based learning should not be rejected as unrealistic either. I am looking forward to learning how game-based learning can help students become better learners. Stay tuned.