"An effective learning environment, and for that matter an effective creative environment, is one in which failure is OK – it's even welcomed. . . . In game theory, this is often spoken of as the 'magic circle': you enter into a realm where the rules of the real world don't apply – and typically being judged on success and failure is part of the real world. People need to feel free to try things and to learn without being judged or penalised."
This quote from the article "The seduction secrets of video game designers" stirs a lot of thought in me to be used within the classroom. A new focus in the education world is Growth Mindset vs. Fixed Mindset and that means allowing students the ability to NOT be afraid of making mistakes. School does such a great job of ingraining F= Failure, that they are afraid of the word. Games allow students to fail, over and over, without feeling penalized. They can explore and learn in a more natural way.
Giving students interesting tools, a goal, and TIME to explore and play without fear of being docked percentages or points is a game-changer *hehe* because it's so different and backwards than the traditional way school has been presented for so long.
Games also allow students to feel in control. Schools often create mini-worlds where the teacher is a dominant, all-knowing figure and students are the minions who work hard to memorize specific tasks each day. Giving students autonomy, in any way possible - not just in a gaming world, goes a long way with students. There is a joy that comes from planning, making choices, and watching the outcomes unfold. This is also a great teaching tool to prepare students for future decision-making!
Finally, games can teach the timeless mantra: practice makes progress. The more effort, dedication, and care put into a task, the better it can become. This isn't just in games- it's in all parts of life!
Are video games meant to educate? Or entertain?
Although some video games are meant to be educational, they lose the "fun" factor. And some of those entertaining games are losing the opportunity to benefit students with more chances of learning. There is a way to bridge this gap.
I like the words "facilitate learning" that were pointed out. Instead of jamming information into the player's heads, or having a game seriously lacking in the fun, a good question can actually actually facilitate the learning . Educational games can make a big jump towards closing this gap by finding a way to make their goal more interesting to learn from. I also liked the point made of students being willing to self-educate because they were just so interested in the topic. It's a small step towards bridging the gap.
"Enhance the game experience without getting in the way of the fun!"
It was really enlightening and fun to watch this teacher introduce his Star Trek Gamelab design. It demonstrates the important components to running a successful Gamelab unit. There was a fun hook, it explained the details well, and I really like the QR codes being incorporated throughout the room. That is a piece of the design I'd like to explore more. Unfortunately, I don't have access to the best technology to use this piece... yet!!
I also really liked how the installments do things such as introduce characters, or add to the overall adventure theme of the game. In my own Percy Jackson themed unit, I could consider adding some more character installments (maybe Titans breaking out and needing to be conquered!) to spice up a piece here or there.
Being that I was born into a rural household in the 90s, many of the games I watched in the video weren't familiar to me. I have read research and seen information on some of the earlier arcade games, but the first game that was actually one I felt familiar with was Super Mario Brothers from 1985. I at least remember some friends and cousins playing this from time to time as a child. More often though, we have played this style of game in recent years through the Wii systems.
During the Part 2 video, I recognized the Disney's Aladdin game. I can definitely see the progression of pixels, graphics, and plot evolving from Mario to this style. Also, King of Fighters is definitely familiar from the Arcade, although I never played it much myself.
The next familiar game to myself came from much later years, Tron 2.0. I really didn't have an interest in many "shooter" style games, so many years and style went by without me noticing much.
Finally, Minecraft is something I've actually experienced playing with my husband. I think he knew it would be something closer to my interest-level. I realize the graphics are a little more old-school when compared to the other modern games, but I'm assuming that's some of the appeal.
To see the evolution of graphics with video clips shows how far technology has come and we can assume it will continue to move forward in remarkable ways. My children are definitely much more interested and involved in video games than I was, so I'm sure my household will be more immersive in this technology.
Here are some games I'd like to keep embedded for my classroom use:
This is a really fun way to help students practice their typing skills!
This tile interactive tile game is a great way for students to challenge their thinking with addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.
Action Games: after playing the "shoot 'em up" type of game, I was a bit surprised by the fun I had. While reflecting on how this might translate into a classroom setting, the thing I come back to more and more is giving students a chance to practice the growth mindset. While teaching them the ways to practice a growth mindset is to try again, never give up, and keep a positive attitude, this style of game really allows them to experience failure in a way that motivates them to continue on and try again. I think by simply making that connection for kids, and saying it out loud, and discussing it, they could connect the growth mindset and feelings with failure to something concrete in their minds. This would help them make that important connection. Other bonuses are the practice of fine motor skills, reaction times, and dealing with obstacles.
The Platform style game was really fun for me to enjoy. I like this better than a lot of other style games because I'm a newbie with video games, but this style runs deep back into my past as a child. I like the simple strategy and reflex involved in completing the task, and the way that strategy can be discovered, built upon, and learned from. It's a great example of how try, try, try again really works! I found a Mario Bros. game to share because I have a special fondness of this from being a kid.
The First Person Shooter Style of game was fun to me because of the high-action, and strategy in avoiding oncoming shots, while simultaneously formulating a future plan. I can see this apply to classrooms because of that multi-tasking skill, however, it is not school appropriate for elementary school, and I would be a bit concerned about the suggestion of violence.
My experience with the fighting game genre was also fun and intense. I like that it is a lot more strategic and involves great focus and thinking. The ability to think ahead and anticipate the opponent's future moves would really benefit students as they consider their futures. Hmmmm, what will happen if I don't complete this assignment? Will I get in trouble with my mom? Teacher? Will my grade drop? Again though, I wouldn't condone it for the elementary level.
Driving games are very appealing to me. I like the adrenaline rush of the race. I like the ability to improve over time, master skills, and find strategic short-cuts. These were also in my childhood memories and I think they are relate-able to almost all kids. I'm having a small idea about incorporating a driving, racing theme that goes along with number fast facts that we time in school all the time.... race to the checkpoint and race to answer the fact, then continue? That would be fun in the classroom for sure!
My exploration of the rhythm game genre was entertaining and fun. The intense concentration it sometimes took really stretched my brain, and I can definitely see that as a good thing for the classroom. Stamina and hand-eye coordination are great skills to develop and fusing that into the educational setting would be appropriate and fun!
Narrative Games: after playing Zork for fifteen minutes, I felt a bit confused. I appreciated the directional help, and I tried to design a map as suggested in the video, although these things didn't seem too entertaining or fun to me. I hit many dead-ends and didn't know how to proceed. I forgot the object of the game. I made 34 moves and 0 points! I feel that I would be more invested in trying to persevere if I had a bit more motivation ... and since I forgot the end-goal, or did I ever know it? I lost a bit of my drive to push through. I can however, visualize the types of students who would enjoy this! It's less "action" and "adrenaline" and more of a strategy game. I normally like strategy games, however I think this one left me a bit unsupported.
After having also played the Peasant's Quest game for a half hour, I realized there were many historical pieces to the game that are exciting and informative. For example, the mere direction to get stinkier because peasants smelled leaves a lot of room for interpretation about the hygiene during this period of time. Although it was also a bit confusing and I needed some support from other online resources, I learned that I was able to solve my own problems. I think this idea would transfer well to kids.
I enjoyed Zelda, an action adventure game, more than the other narrative games I've experienced. Mainly, I felt it was easier to navigate and understand the end-game. My personal taste enjoyed the puzzles interwoven into the games as well. The multi-dimensional ideas kept my engagement more. I can see this working better in a classroom setting because the levels of exploration seemed a bit more structured.
The Modern Narrative games (MMORPGs and ARGs) are completely out of my exposure. I mean, I know they are insanely popular, I'm sure my husband plays them semi-regularly, but I haven't ever tried them, or really cared to. My experience with this quest was a bit enlightening. I definitely see the appeal, but for me it's a bit overwhelming. I feel a little too-behind the times. However, the communication and collaboration skill is built up clearly from every moment playing. I think that is a critical skill every young person (actually every person, ever) needs to develop to succeed in life. It's amazing to me that these types of skills can be exposed to young people through games every day.
Simulation Games: I grew up loving the simulation style games. I remember playing Lemonade Stand games, then Sim City, then Sims, and even Roller Coaster Tycoon. The strategy involved was fun to dive in and explore. I liked thinking through outcomes and scenarios. I got to try again, make new plans, and feel successful when I was running an empire. These style of games give the player so much control and autonomy. I think this is one thing children and adults crave to feel a sense of pride. It can help teach students an emphasis on finding the most efficient route to solve a problem, or how to balance and juggle multiple pieces at once.
Other Games: The puzzle-type games are my favorite. I've always loved a good puzzle or mystery to solve. These are the types of games I like to keep downloaded on my cellphone. The frustration can sometimes light a fire under me, or convince me to give up, but either way, I always come back and enjoy it again. I think these are perfect for the classroom. This might be because I love them, or maybe it's because it's brain-boosting and that's the perfect thing for school!
I was born in 1991. As a child, my family had the basics as far as technology was concerned. My parents eventually had cellphones, and there was a desktop computer in our home. While in school, we occasionally worked on computers in labs, but it wasn't a daily part of life. I mostly remember taking the standardized tests on them.
About when I hit middle school, I remember being interested in the computer. I would set up the speakers, download games, and problem-solve my way through any obstacles that came up. My life changed a lot in the early 00's when I got RollerCoaster Tycoon. I was completely memorized. I loved the challenge! I loved earning money to expand the park, deciding how to design the layout (where would the Kiddie Area be? How far distanced should the bathrooms be?), and I loved designing the actual rollercoasters! I know that my brain began building those connective neuron tissues that helped me problem-solve my way through technology ever since then. Around this same time, I was becoming addicted to the Sims games. I loved the creative challenges, and the relationship building. I definitely began developing a skill for management through these games that has served me well as an elementary teacher.
Now as a teacher, I love the curriculum building games and programs that are available to be explored. I love how it supports my teaching in an engaging way, but still allows me a lot of cold data on growth and skill development. I took a class that centered on the Educational World of Minecraft, and I had no idea there was so many options! Those creative skills I have been building upon since childhood had a new arena to explode in! I'm currently weaving between many programs to find good fits for math and language practice, as well as integrating my own creations from Minecraft.
Clearly, the technological world will continue advancing and I'm excited to continue learning and exploring!
While reflecting on this infographic, there were some things that stood out to me. First of all, as an educator of young children, I see a growing gap in some of the most important life skills such as problem-solving and collaboration.
It is powerful to be in the classroom and witness children who are so quick to give up when things get challenging OR when I don't give them step-by-step instructions. Often times, I like to let my students problem solve their own ideas and solutions when conflicts arise. While not all students quit easily, there are a handful who demand answers or they're going to throw a fit, shut down, stop listening/working, etc. . . So how do we reach out to those students? I like to think of it as "tricking" them into working hard. When the buy-in and engagement factor is high enough, they are willing to trouble-shoot. I love that about games in the classroom.
It is also a huge job teaching these young children how to collaborate and work well together. It's a relative new skill for them, and it's hard. It's difficult for adults to collaborate effectively often times! That's why I love to start teaching those skills early on. The gaming atmosphere allows students the ability to work in teams, share ideas, trouble-shoot ideas, make plans, revise plans, and try again!
When studies show 95% of teachers finding games to be an effective teaching tool, why isn't it being pushed MORE? Teachers and administrations seem to be willing to do anything and pay any amount... yet technology isn't always brought up as an effective tool? Why? Is it because some teachers don't feel comfortable? Probably. Is it because technology is expensive to fund and hard to keep updated? Probably. Is it because of fear? Probably. But clearly, infusing it into the curriculum is CLEARLY worth it.