Games-based learning for exploration and discovery

Blogging the 2014 AECT International Convention.

Preconference Workshop: Games-based learning for exploration and discovery

PresentersHannah R. Gerber, Sam Houston State University; Dodie J. Niemeyer, Sam Houston State University; Carolyn Stufft, Stephen F. Austin State University

Interesting Notes and Ideas

  • Minecraft snapshot

    Universities are starting to give scholarships for esports; the U.S. is starting to give visas to pro-gamers.

  • Watch out for gaming as a reward; students who could benefit most from this type of learning may not get to experience it
  • One way to gamify a whole course is to create role play throughout the whole course. I would love to do that!
  • Terms: Affinity space (as opposed to community of practice), paratext, metagame, ludology vs. narratology, makerspaces, machinima, fan fiction, walkthroughs, gamification, modding, edutainment, novice, feedback loop (assessment engine)
  • James Paul Gee
    • A video game is just a set of problems – you have to solve them in order to win. Connect that to problem based learning; problem posing learning – students learn to pose problems or forecast them.
    • The theory of learning behind games is quite different than regular learning. It’s much more complex than in school. If games couldn’t teach you, they would go broke. We teach the way we do because of the tests. We have to change the assessment, because it drives the teaching system. You wouldn’t be tempted to give a gamer a Halo test; if he finished the game, he already knows it. The learning system should be so immersive that the assessment is built in. Situated and embodied learning – can you DO stuff with your learning?
    • Learning – you need to be able to USE and ARTICULATE your knowledge.
  • Adaptive learning – you can’t move on until you are expert at that level. That’s a gaming concept also.
  • Games are one-on-one – the gamer is learning at their own level. It’s individualized instruction.
  • The differences of a game where the concepts are all connected in the game vs. where you answer a math problem and then get to move a car forward – but those two are connected.
  • One thing to watch out for with using off the shelf games is that students can be frustrated that the fun is taken out of the game because it’s been “school-ified”.
  • Game mechanics for gamification – feedback loops, iterative sequences for learning, levelling up with a reward system, may have real-life ramifications. Immediate feedback and self-reflection.
  • Issue of extrinsic motivation vs. intrinsic motivation. There aren’t enough studies to really say that extrinsic motivation are a detriment to intrinsic motivation.
  • The trick is really designing the curriculum around the game – and the creativity of the teacher.
  • Affinity space is the location, metagaming is the activity there, and paratext is the product of the collaboration/community.
  • There are communities around this – virtual communities, or playing with family, brothers, parents, uncles, in a real human interaction around the game. Well, of course! We have human interactions around Scrabble too! 
  • Types of writing around gaming: fan fiction, machinima, walkthrough, maker spaces.
  • How to gamify assessment:
    • health bar – to show how healthy your character is
    • a map to show where you are compared to everything else in the course
    • leaderboards?? maybe
    • XP – experience points
    • Present more challenges and opportunities to earn points
    • Quests and missions – students can choose these different goals and customize based on their interest
  • The idea of in course workshops (in the form of writing workshops) to support learning needed to be successful in the course game
  • How to do modification / modding – students can recreate parts of the class based on their interest

Resources and Links


Best Practice Workshop Presentation Tips

Things I noticed that worked well in how they ran the workshop.

  • Access prior knowledge by asking for a personal definition
  • Pass out terms related to the concept on an index card and have participants in pairs write down what they know already and what they want to know about the term (tactile KWL)
  • Silent reading time adds variety to an all day workshop

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