Five Inspiring Digital Game Based Learning Blogs

 1. DevLearn Thoughts: Is Game Based Learning Misunderstood?

http://www.bottomlineperformance.com/devlearn-thoughts-is-game-based-learning-misunderstood/

This Blog discussed the important trend of digital game based learning providing advice for game designers: Game based learning is a completely immersive experience with a game goal, rules, and repeatable set of game mechanics. If your learning experience doesn’t have rules or a back story, it is not a game; advice for teachers surrounding tracking student’s activities, achievements, and milestones through appropriate software; recommendations for game use: Games should only be used as reinforcement activities. They can’t replace courses; and warnings that at times digital game based learning can distract from actual learning.

 2. Technology, Innovation, Education: Serious Gaming, The Next Frontier for Learning?

http://blog.hansdezwart.info/2012/11/13/serious-gaming-the-next-frontier-for-learning/

This blog tries to answer a few questions regarding digital game based learning in short the blog discusses:

  • What is a game? Games are entered willfully, have goals, have conflict, have rules, can be won and lost, are interactive, have challenge, can create their own internal value, engage players, and are closed formal systems.
  • What types of games for learning exist? Games to be played by people who are physically together, 2D computer games, 3D computer games that try and give a real depiction of a particular location, and alternate reality games that bring a game component into the real world.
  • How can games be used for learning and for what type of learning problems? Games allow people to practice, motivate a younger generation to learn, and can make something that might not be very interesting more fun.

 3. Portal 2 Puzzle Maker: Making Space for Physics

 http://playmakers.instituteofplay.org/portal-2-puzzlemaker/

This blog explores the digital game based learning tool Portal 2 Puzzle Maker, this digital game based learning tool allows students to use digital media to build a game and experience it.  In the game students “open a hole in space” and create their own puzzle challenge and share this with friends. Students describe this as a fun way of learning that allows them to put on the game designer hat in a very open way, with no rules, and a vast play space. Game designers report on the great popularity of creating and sharing puzzles, and teachers report on the unbelievable sense of accomplishment that students feel after creating puzzle and being able to then entre in. Through Portal 2 Puzzle Maker student learning is enhanced, this means students are engaged and excited about the task at hand. Puzzle Maker is a great example of a commercial game with crossover appeal in the digital game based learning field.

 4. The Teacher Report: 6 Ways Teachers Are Using Video Games in the Classroom

http://www.weareteachers.com/community/weareteachers-blog/blog-wat/2012/11/06/the-teacher-report-6-ways-teachers-are-using-video-games-in-the-classroom

This blog discusses how a growing number of teachers, are integrating the popular games kids play at home into their curriculums and details six innovative ways that teachers are using video games in the classroom:

  • In PE students can increase their heart rate and practice basic fitness skills
  • In Science students can create games that demonstrates concepts they are learning about in class
  • In Reading students can search for words they can teach others using clips from games
  • In Writing students can subscribe to gaming magazines and analyse articles
  • In Technology students can create games
  • For Homework students can play games with a learning component.

See blog for specific links to suggested games.

 5. Should Kids Play Games in the Classroom

http://www.educationnation.com/index.cfm?objectid=9EC27B06-2C69-11E2-A3EB000C296BA163

This blog examines how digital game based learning engages students and how teachers can use digital game based learning to teach important concepts. Games provide a learning environment that is often starkly different than the traditional learning environment. When you play a game, you have the opportunity to try and fail. Games also focus on critical thinking and solving complex problems. Some teachers are using more low-tech games, and some teachers are even turning their classrooms into games where students play every day. This blog encourages digital game based learning in the classroom and provides two examples of how teachers are implementing game based learning.

Digital Game Based Learning Resources: Mathletics

http://www.mathletics.com.au/

Home Resources

Educational researchers have proposed computer games as a math learning tool with considerable potential in teaching mathematics in context and boosting affect and motivation (Fe, 2008). Within the Australian Curriculum the Mathematics domain aims to ensure that students:

  • Are confident, creative users and communicators of mathematics, able to investigate, represent and interpret situations in their personal and work lives and as active citizens
  • Develop an increasingly sophisticated understanding of mathematical concepts and fluency with processes, and are able to pose and solve problems and reason in Number and Algebra, Measurement and Geometry, and Statistics and Probability
  • Recognise connections between the areas of mathematics and other disciplines and appreciate mathematics as an accessible and enjoyable discipline to study (VCAA, 2012).

The Mathletics website is directed towards the first two aims within the Mathematics domain of the Australian Curriculum.

Mathletics aims to cover all aspects of mathematics, the website professes to contain over 1000 learning activities for students aged 5 through to 18, responding to each students individual strengths and weaknesses, it lets students know if they are on the right track and if they can improve at their own pace. Over 10,000 schools and 3.5 million students access the website worldwide, providing step-by-step animated support 24 hours a day, and allowing students worldwide to challenge each other in real-time games of speed and skill. With weekly reports e-mailed to parents Mathletics is committed to providing a world leading mathematics recourse however, it is at a cost (Mathletics, 2012). Ke (2013) examined the implementation computer mathematics games as an anchor for the tutoring of mathematics, with findings suggesting that there was an improvement in students’ performance after a game-based tutoring program. Ke (2008) also examined the impact of computer math games on students’ math performance and math learning attitudes, results indicated that digital game based learning in a cooperative goal structure (the ways in which students will interact with each other and the teacher to achieve the goal) was most effective in promoting positive math attitudes.

Ke, F. (2013). Computer-game-based tutoring of mathematics. Computers & Education. 60. Page 448-457. Date Retrieved: 1 November 2012. Retrieved From: ScienceDirect

Ke, F. (2008). Alternative goal structures for computer game-based learning. Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning. 3. Page 429-445. Date Retrieved: 13 November 2012. Retrieved From: ProQuest

Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority (VCAA). (2012). The Australian Curriculum in Victoria: Welcome to AusVELS. Date Retrieved: 12 November 2012. Retrieved From: http://ausvels.vcaa.vic.edu.au/

Digital Game Based Learning Resources: Lego Digital Designer 4.3

Accessible from: http://ldd.lego.com/en-us/download/

Level 2

In the Interdisciplinary Learning Domain of Information and Communications Technology students are asked to process data and information skilfully to create information products in forms that are meaningful for themselves and their audience. These information products need to allow students to effectively demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of the concepts, issues, relationships and processes that are the subject of the task (VCAA, 2012). Lego Digital Designer is 3D modelling tool using Lego that allows students to create products in a variety of discipline based learning domains. For Example as students work towards the achievement of level 2 standards in:

  • The arts students can use Lego Digital Designer  to communicate experiences, observations and things imagined
  • English students can use Lego Digital Designer to represent people, places, things and ideas, create characters and settings of different texts, and that develop key events from literary texts
  • In history students can use Lego Digital Designer to build a significant person, building, site or part of the natural environment in the local community and what it reveals about the past
  • In the humanities students can use Lego Digital Designer to produce elements of the natural and built environments in their local area.

Lego Digital Designer can be accessed freely from the abovementioned link, students will need to start with a base plate and they are then able to select Lego bricks, select brick colours and duplicated them if required. The Lego Digital Designer has zoom in zoom out capabilities, varying views, and it allows students to choose from a variety of backgrounds e.g. space, mountains, block colours to reflect their information products. After students have completed their design they are the able to watch how the model was built and take screen shots so they can print and display their designs if they desire. Students who are feeling less creative can also use a building guide to help shape their information products if required.

Have fun with Lego digital designer!

Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority (VCAA). (2012). The Australian Curriculum in Victoria: Welcome to AusVELS. Date Retrieved: 12 November 2012. Retrieved From: http://ausvels.vcaa.vic.edu.au/

Digital Game Based Learning Resources: Sesame Street

http://www.sesamestreet.org/games

 Foundation Level

As students work towards the achievement of foundation level standards, they make performing and visual art works that express and communicate experiences, observations, ideas and feelings about themselves and their world, they investigate every day, familiar products and recognise the basic characteristics and materials/ingredients from which they are made and how they are used, and develop an awareness of spatial concepts through structured experiences within their immediate environment (VCAA, 2012). The Sesame Street website is an example of a digital game based learning resource that is appropriate for students working towards the achievement of foundation level standards.

The domain of Design, Creativity and Technology (DCT) emphasises engagement in designing, creating and evaluating processes, products and technological systems using a range of materials as a way of developing creativity and innovation (VCAA, 2012). Evans (2011) evaluated primary students’ creation of digital and virtual selves and the positive uses of digital game based learning. Results illustrated how educators can teach students with the tools of contemporary artistic investigation to transform ideas into creative, practical and commercial realities by optimising the value of digital game based learning systems. ‘Bert and Ernie’s Print Maker’ encourages students to mix colors and express themselves through shapes, squiggles and stamps by clicking anywhere on the paper, parents at home can also name colours with their children and help develop their child’s skills in managing and manipulating materials through digital game based learning.

‘Grow Your Colors’ allows students to grow seeds in a virtual garden, this activity asks students to identify colours, dig holes, sprinkle seeds, water seeds, sort fruit, and talk about the colours of the rainbow. This digital game based learning activity incorporates biological science, and aims to not only emphasises engagement in designing and creating but, aims to evoke students interests in science as a means of expanding their curiosity and willingness to explore, ask questions about and speculate on the changing world in which they live (VCAA, 2012).

Evans, J. (2011). Digital Self: Primary Students and Computer Art. Australian Art Education. 34. Page 79-96. Date Retrieved: 12 November 2012. Retrieved From: Informit

Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority (VCAA). (2012). The Australian Curriculum in Victoria: Welcome to AusVELS. Date Retrieved: 12 November 2012. Retrieved From: http://ausvels.vcaa.vic.edu.au/

Digital Game Based Learning for Teachers

Digital Game-Based Learning, whose non-technology roots go deep in the past, has become the learning wave of the future (Prensky, 2001). Large-scale digital games and simulations are becoming increasingly integrated, rich media contexts with multiple layers of social media (Gibson, 2008).When education or training feels dull, we are not being engaged and motivated. In other words we are not really learning. This is where digital game based learning comes in. As it turns out for many years’ video game designers have been producing and refining highly motivating learning environments for their players to enjoy (Tyrbus, 2012). Within an effective digital game based learning environment computer games might be used as a way of motivating those learners who are struggling with the curriculum, and children who are all too often less engaged with the learning process (Holmes, 2011)

Educational tools are highly motivating; in particular, digital games are often regarded as being highly effective for fostering learning mainly because of their expected positive effect on student involvement, attention and motivation starting from the very first school years (Ott & Tavella, 2009). The knowledge and skills entailed in game-based informal learning environments include some of the most difficult to measure and document, but they are, nevertheless, universally heralded as crucial to the success of formal education (Gibson, 2008). Digital Game-Based Learning is an alternative that is being utilized for: material that is dry and technical; subject matter that is difficult; audiences that are hard to reach; difficult assessment; complex process understanding; and strategy development and communication with amazing and increasing success (Prensky, 2001).

Roberson and Miller (2009) investigated the effects of a commercial off-the-shelf computer game on children’s mental computation skills and on aspects of their self-perceptions, noting:

  • Improvements in children’s academic work: tables, basic computation, writing
  • Truanting and lateness had dramatically improved in some classes (the Nintendo’s were used at the start of the school day)
  • Children were keen to take responsibility for the management aspects (collection, distribution, charging etc)
  • Improvements in interpersonal relationships (children taking a supportive interest in the performance of peers)
  • Children believed that they were ‘smarter’ as a result of using the game.

Tüzün, Yilmaz-Soylu, Karakuş, İnal, and Kizilkaya (2009) examined primary school students’ achievement and motivation in geography learning through an educational computer game concluding that, when compared to the traditional school environment, students showed statistically significant higher intrinsic motivations and statistically significant lower extrinsic motivations while learning through the game-based learning environment. It was further found that computer games embrace the characteristics of the new pedagogy in terms of providing authentic and relevant learning environments and increasing learners’ autonomy.

Digital Game Based Learning in Learning and Teaching

Satisfying a range of functions digital game based learning can:

  • Provide a focus and structure for the learning, using repetition and feedback that students’ find to be helpful
  • Support some independent learning and contribute to increases in self-confidence (Holmes, 2011).
  • Motivate in the subjects and content that are the most difficult to teach or train — either because they are extremely dull and dry or extremely complicated, or both, and to get people to train themselves.
  • Improve the learning, and ultimately the competence and behaviour of learners.
  • Create engagement-driven, experience-centered, “fun” approaches to teaching and learning with effective techniques for teaching the material, facts, concepts, skills, reasoning and behaviours that students and workers are required to learn.
  • Promote user-driven learning
  • Produce a learning world, like the game and movie worlds of today with the goal of holding their audience and being successful in learning, where learners look forward to the next release as eagerly as they wait for an upcoming game, console or movie (Prensky, 2001).

Digital Game Based Learning and ICT pedagogy:

Within AusVELS ICT is an interdisciplinary domain that focuses on providing students with the tools to transform their learning and to enrich their learning environment. From foundation to level 4 students become familiar with the main components of a computer and develop their hand-eye coordination by using a mouse to control the cursor/pointer on the screen (VCAA, 2012). Here digital game based learning can be employed to meet the ICT focus that aims to provide students with the tools to transform their learning and to enrich their learning environment.

Digital game based learning can be used to solve problems, experiment with simple ICT tools and strategies, and students can begin to consider how these tools can be used for solving new problems. The knowledge, skills and behaviours identified for this domain enable students to:

  • Develop new thinking and learning skills that produce creative and innovative insights
  • Develop more productive ways of working and solving problems individually and collaboratively
  • Create information products that demonstrate their understanding of concepts, issues, relationships and processes
  • Express themselves in contemporary and socially relevant ways
  • Communicate locally and globally to solve problems and to share knowledge
  • Understand the implications of the use of ICT and their social and ethical responsibilities as users of ICT (VCAA, 2012).

All of these knowledge, skills and behaviours identified above could potentially be met through digital game based learning.

Digital Game Based Learning, leadership, implementation and evaluation:

Following the Australian Government’s commitment to the Digital Education Revolution (DER), a number of initiatives have been funded through the ICT Innovation Fund (ICTIF) to support teachers and school leaders to more effectively integrate the use of information and communication technology into classroom teaching and learning. The skills, understandings and technologies investigated in the professional learning materials will include:

  • Understanding and using digital content
  • Mobile devices
  • Collaboration tools and devices
  • Game-based technologies
  • Communication tools and devices (DEEWR, 2011)

References

Beauchamp, G. (2011). Interactivity and ICT in the primary school: categories of learner interactions with and without ICT. Technology Pedagogy and Education. 20(2). Page 175-190. Date Retrieved: 1 November 2012. Retrieved From: Taylor & Francis Online

Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR). (2011). Education Services Australia: ICT in Everyday Learning: Teacher Online Toolkit. Date Retrieved: 11 November 2012. Retrieved From: http://www.deewr.gov.au/Schooling/DigitalEducationRevolution/DigitalStrategyforTeachers/Documents/ICTinEverydayLearning.pdf

Gibson, D. (2008). Editorial: Make it a Two-way connection: A response to “Connecting Informal and Formal Learning Experiences in the Age of Participatory Media”. Contemporary Issues in Technology and Tacher Education. 8(4). Page 305-309. Date Retrieved: 1 November 2012. Retrieved From: Google Scholar

Holmes, W. (2011). Using game-based learning to support struggling readers at home. Learning Media and Technology. 36(1). Page 5-19. Date Retrieved: 1 November 2012. Retrieved From: Taylor & Francis Online

Ott, M., & Tavella, M. (2009). World Conference on Educational Sciences 2009: A contribution to the understanding of what makes young students genuinely engaged in computer-based learning tasks. Procedia Social and Behavioural Sciences. 1. Page 184-188. Date Retrieved: 1 November 2012. Retrieved From: ScienceDirect

Prensky, M. (2001). The Digital Game-Based Learning Revolution: Fun at Last. Digital Game-Based Learning. Page 1-19. Date Retrieved: 11 November 2012. Retrieved From: http://www.marcprensky.com/writing/prensky%20-%20ch1-digital%20game-based%20learning.pdf

Robertson, D., & Miller, D. (2009). World Conference on Educational Sciences 2009: Learning gains from using consoles in primary classrooms; a randomised controlled study. Procedia Social and Behavioural Sciences. 1. Page 1641-1644. Date Retrieved: 1 November 2012. Retrieved From: ScienceDirect

Trybus, J. (2012). Game-Based Learning: What it is, Why it works, and Where it’s Going. Date Retrieved: 11 November 2012. Retrieved From: http://www.newmedia.org/game-based-learning–what-it-is-why-it-works-and-where-its-going.html

Tüzün, H., Yilmaz-Soylu, M., Karakuş, T., İnal,Y., & Kizilkaya, G. (2009). The effects of computer games on primary school students’ achievement and motivation in geography learning. Computers & Education. (52). Page 68-77. Date Retrieved: 1 November 2012. Retrieved From: ScienceDirect

Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority (VCAA). (2012). The Australian Curriculum in Victoria: Welcome to AusVELS. Date Retrieved: 12 November 2012. Retrieved From: http://ausvels.vcaa.vic.edu.au/