A very interested keynote from the NMC 2012 Summer Conference (the NMC puts out the Horizon Report) by Dr. Ruben Puentedura. Dr. Puentedura is the founder of the ed tech consulting group Hippasus and created of the SAMR model—a pedagogical model for using technology in the classroom.
In the keynote he looks back at human history and talks about how the components of technology: social, mobility, visualization, storytelling, and gaming, have been ingrained into our lives from the beginning. Very interesting stuff and definitely worth a watch !
According to the Horizon Report (a yearly publication by the New Media Consortium (NMC) that details what they believe to be emerging technology trends in higher education), one thing to look out for in the next 2 to 3 years is game based learning.
I think that there is often a misconception of what exactly “game based learning” means. Some people take it as students playing “Call of Duty” as homework, and somehow relating this to learning objectives. What we need to understand, though, is that people are creating games specifically for learning. While these games are “serious” in nature, they are not the same as spending time playing Xbox all night. These games are usually created with specific objectives within the curriculum in mind.
Why should someone use “games” in the classroom ? Well, research has proven that they work (i.e. increase learning). For example, research shows that playing games “stimulate the production of dopamine, a chemical that provokes learning by reinforcing neuronal connections and communications.”
Games are found to have a large impact in three distinct areas: engagement, motivation, and problem-solving skills. I think it’s pretty easy to see why games have this impact on people.
In addition, if you look at the pedagogical applications of games, they actual hit on all levels of blooms taxonomy.
Due to these benefits, many universities are experimenting with gaming in the classroom. For example, the IE Business School in Madrid is using an in house created game called “10 Downing Street” to explore complex economic issues. In this game, learners take control of the British PM as he navigates economic policy. The students debate the merits of different paths they could take in the game, and see how it plays out.
Penn State launched the “Educational Gaming Commons,” as a group on that campus that explores how games can be used to “improve teaching, learning, and research.” They are creating games in house designed specifically for certain faculty to use.
Some of the games that Penn State has crated, that are FREE to use by anyone.
ECON-U: Players use economic principals to build and grow a fictional university. Teaches the following principal (great for ECON courses): elasticity, trad offs, supply/demand, costs, diminishing returns, scale.
Chem Blaster: Players are in a fast paced memorization game where they are expected to connect symbols, charges, and names based on the period table of elements and 53 additional ions.
Time and Patient$: This game situates the layer as the head of a walk in clinic and forces them to make tough decisions about a number of different factors, including staffing, amenities, and overall policies in order to keep the clinic afloat. (Coming Summer 2013).
There are, of course, other initiatives of organizations and/or universities creating free to play games.
“Virulent,” which gives you control of a virus as you attempt to infect, replicate inside of, and escape from the host cell. This teaches cellular biology principals.
“Progenitor X” is a turn based game that takes place during a zombie apocalypse You play as a group of scientist that are tasked with saving the human race by creating a cure. This will teach students relationships between cells, tissues, and organs.
Center for Game Scienceat University of Washington created one of the biggest success stories for game based learning in recent memory.
There game, “Foldit,” has players fold the structure of selected proteins to the best of the player’s ability, using various tools provided within the game. The best created are analyzed by scientists to look for “real world” applications. This has lead to a few major breakthroughs. In 2011, players helped scientists figure out the structure of an enzyme of an aids causing virus on 10 days….it had stumped scientists for 15 YEARS.
I think that we are just at the beginning of a game based learning adoption among higher education. I believe in terms of adoption, we are currently in the “Innovators” (see below) stage, but this could all change in the next few years as the technology improves.
Every year The New Media Consortium (NMC) publishes a report (Horizon Report) that details what they believe to be emerging technology trends in higher education. The NMC Horizon Report, “charts the landscape of emerging technologies for teaching, learning, research, creative inquiry, and information management. Launched in 2002, it epitomizes the mission of the NMC to help educators and thought leaders across the world build upon the innovation happening at their institutions by providing them with expert research and analysis. The 2013 report has a few interesting predictions, as I’ve outlined below.
Learning Design and Technology is committed to making Maryville University a top institution in terms of emerging technology, which is why we will continue to monitor these trends and offer the appropriate resources to those interested.