The Educational Background Behind Gaming – Part 1

It’s NOT about the Games.  It’s about the Gaming.

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I like to introduce my university students to Gaming in the Classroom. It is not aboutplaying games but rather about the opportunities and engagement that students experience when they are learning through a gaming framework.  

I would like to share with you the introductory sequence that I use in introducing this.  I would also like to share how I challenge my students to play a specific game for a while and then reflect on the process.  

ALERT:  Next week I will share the responses, reflections and insights that my students develop from this experience.

Did you know that in 2011:

  • 65% of US households play video games?
  • Almost 1/2 of the video gamers are adults < 49 years old?
  • The average gamer is 32?
  • 2 out of 5 gamers are women?

Gaming is not a fad. Video gaming is a way of life. Gaming is an activity that provides sufficient positive feedback to cause players to exclude all else. It is challenging enough to entice gamers to continually attempt to beat their last score.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if school was like gaming? Where students would be so motivated by their learning activities that they would get up early and stay up late to engage themselves in the learning process.

Our understanding of learning has taken a HUGE leap forward in recent years.  It is time that we were Rethinking Learning with the 21st Century Learner.  This video explores how we need to rethink our students’ learning experiences to best fit their interests and learning preferences.  This video includes interviews with John Seely Brown (discusses how today’s learners are gamers to the core),  Nichole Pinkard, Diana Rhoten, Mimi Ito (Lead Researcher for the Digital Youth Project); Katie Salen (Executive Director of The New School for Design); and Henry Jenkins (Media Guru). 

Is it about playing the game or getting involved in something that is rewarding and challenging.  Maybe it has something to do with “getting into the flow of things . . . “

Flow – The Psychology of the Optimal Experience

Dr. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (Chick-sent-me-hi) has studied states of “optimal experience” for over two decades. He is exploring the conditions and attitudes that engage people’s concentration and attention to the point of total absorption. He calls this state of consciousness Flow.  In this state of attention, learners are at their most receptive level.

Dr. Csikszentmihalyi discusses his theory of Flow in this 5-minute video. 
It is the primary introduction to the Flow concept. He further explains its application to education in this short interview on  Motivating People to Learn.

9 Characteristics of Flow have been identified. Learn these characteristics so that you can later relate them to the apparent aspects of gaming and learning.
Pay careful attention to this concept of Flow because while it may seem like “good common sense,” it is an underlying principle of learning.
Gaming’s Elements Make for Good Learning

Gaming is a directional process where the player is guided towards a selected goal through positive and negative reinforcement. Isn’t that similar to a good learning situation? How does that relate to the 9 characteristics of Flow?

Read this posting which discusses a list of 8 characteristics of Gaming. Relate these to those of Flow. What similarities do you see? What distinctions?  You will also find a video of a leading gaming researcher, Dr. James Paul Gee.  Watch this video and correlate it with the connections we have been discussing.

Gaming in Your REAL Life

Gaming is the basis of living and learning.  When you do something correctly, you are rewarded.  When you faultier, you fail.  It’s about how you interact with the world. Before you can explore how you would do this in the classroom, you need to know something about how it works in your life.  Seth Priebatsch and Jesse Schell share some interesting ideas about how Gaming appears as a layer in your real life.  Read this posting and watch these two videos to get a new perspective on how you are gaming on a daily basis. 

If you are interested in really applying gaming to your real life, Explore Chore Wars.  It is a quest game where you can claim experience points for housework.

Consider your present concepts about gaming. Have they changed in the past 24 hours? If so, what have you realized?  How does this affect your perspective as a trainer, teacher, educator?

Using Gaming Practices to Improve Learning
In this 10-minute video, Paul Anderson explains how he reinvented his course to make it a gaming learning experience. Pay attention to the insights that he shares about the elements of active student-centered learning environments.


Time for Real Gaming

In my university class, Using Digital and Social Media, I challenge my students to apply what they have just learned.  These resources have identified how the gaming and learning are two sides of the same coin so I want them to play a game and then reflect on what connections they are seeing.

Another benefit for this homework is that my students get to tell their roommates/friends/ siblings/parents/children that they get to play Kingdom Rush for 3 hours for homework.

Tune in Next Week

I will share with you the gaming reflections that my students generate as well as some educational perspectives that I add to the mix.
What’s YOUR opinion?
Leave a comment and keep the discussion going.

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