Games, Learning and Society Conference #gls14 – Part 4

One of the things that my Minecraft students have taught me, over the last couple of years, is that we need to be true to the game. We need to understand the genre of the game, just as we would if we were immersing into music, literature or other cultural objects. In coming to terms with this, I have been challenged on many levels with the internal conflict of placing Minecraft into an educational context. In particular, are we using Minecraft in a manner that it was intended, and more specifically, are we using it in a manner that students are playing it when not in school? One of the greatest challenges that comes with taking a game that is not specifically designed for the educational context, and placing it in one, is the fear that students will get to a point where they will buy out, rather than buy in. This thinking was also presented at the session I went to called Designing Fun Learning and Assessment Games.

The Designing Fun Learning and Assessment Games session was focused on Sim City Edu. Interestingly, they spoke about similar things that my students believed I should be aware of and apply to the classroom with regard to using a game in an educational context.

In the development of Sim City Edu they asked Jenova Chen what the original SimCity taught him. They mentioned his response was “life is difficult and confusing, but if you work hard at it you can change things” and he also learnt about coal. The key message they took away with regard to taking a cultural object and placing it into an educational setting was that they needed to:

  • resect the game
  • find the learning
  • focus on what players do – series of meaningful choices
  • plan for failure
  • seek the wisdom of others

This has led me to think and question the use of games more broadly in the classroom. Do we feel a need too, in some way, tweak video games so they are educational when we use them in the classroom? Do we feel this same need with a board game?

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