Flight Simulators

Thus far in class we have explored the notion that video games may facilitate learning better than traditional methods we have grown accustom to, such as traditional schools and online classrooms.  Time and again we refer to this notion of learning but what exactly do we mean by learning? Learning is a very broad and encompassing term that can include essentially everything from academics to self defense.  When we say that video games may better facilitate learning are we referring to all types of learning?  Can a video game teach a 6th grade student how to write a five paragraph essay as well as an accredited english teacher? Can a video game teach a solider military strategy as well as a decorated officer?  Clearly there are some elements of certain types of learning that make these subjects better suited to being taught through traditional methods as opposed to by a video game, but what exactly are these elements?  Are we able to segregate certain types of learning into categories  based on their inhereent characteristics and conclude that certain categories of learning are better suited to be taught by a videogame whereas other types of learning are better suited to be taught by a livinging person?  Take for instance a solider training to become a pilot.  Almost all aviation training programs utilize flight simulators, a type of video game, to teach aspiring pilots how to fly planes.  Although most of these training programs use a combination of simulation and actual flight experience, for regulatory and safety purposes, in order to train their students, which of these mediums is a more effective teaching tool?  This summer I was able to meet and speak with a few air force pilots at the intrepid museum in New York City and the topic of flight simulators came up.  Although the pilots I spoke with all went through programs that incorporated both flight simulation and real flight experience, the majority of their training was spent in flight simulators and these pilots made it seem as if they learned more in the simulators than they did from their actual flight experience and their flight instructors.  What are your thoughts on this idea that learning can be separated into categories and are their certain tasks, such as learning to fly a plane, that are better suited to being taught by a video game as opposed to an actual person?

The following is a link to Precision Flight Control INC which is one of the leading flight simulator and flight training devices manufactures on the market.  Precision Flight Controls INC has a wide customer base which includes hobbyists, educational institutions, private sector aviation, business aviation, military flight training and the aerospace industry in general.



4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Anthony
    Jan 16, 2011 @ 19:20:48

    Obviously, figuring out how to do things like grade and give feedback for a story written in a game is extremely difficult, and likely would require a human to help out. However, comptuers have gotten very good at things like grammar, spelling, etc., so, in part the computer can help with things like that. It could certainly help a student write 5 paragraphs, by giving them prompts throughout the process, and guidance and examples on what *might* go into those paragraphs. Let’s put this into the category of open ended creativity problems.

    I think that there are other things that are more memorization and recognition based, that are obviously able to be put into a game, even if complex like a flight plan with weather, malfunctions, or other things going wrong. So this would be like a factual/procedural type of problem.

    I think there might be something in between – like a science “puzzle” that requires facts and procedures, but also requires a bit of thought to come up with possible solutions, which of course would haveto be programed into the computer. An example of this might be telling a chemistry student in an MMORPG science lab game to figure out why people are getting sick from water. We could give them “samples” of the water, and an open lab, in which they can perform experiments on the samples, as many as they want. Maybe they could ask AI characters questions, or have readings about the the current situation or about other similar situations. Of course, the computer could give hints, like “Have you considered determining the pH of the water?” or “Try looking at the water under a microscope!”

    This is somewhat open ended… it requires thinking on the part of the student, but could be done entirely within the game. So, maybe these are a “limited realm” class of problems.


  2. alex82289
    Jan 16, 2011 @ 20:53:37

    All very interesting comments. I really like the way you categorized the different types of learning and then included hypothetical video games which could be used to facilitate this type of learning. However, in response to your comments and ideas regarding how video games could be used to teach writing I am still somewhat pessimistic regarding the teaching power video games posses when it comes to this subject. While I do agree that video games could be used to teach grammar and the structural components of essay writing, I believe there is a creative and stylistic aspect of writing that requires human instruction.


  3. bfranks
    Jan 18, 2011 @ 01:50:53

    Over Thanksgiving, my friend’s uncle told me a story about how he won an auction for charity and the prize was a session in one of Delta’s flight simulators. He said the experience was so real down to every minor detail, that he actually believed he was in a plane (this took place pre-9/11…I doubt they would let the public in them now). Anyway, I always use to think of educational video games as games that taught basic math, and things of that nature. However, after thinking about flight simulators, and what a major role they teach, I am very optimistic about how state of the art video game technology can be applied to teaching complex jobs and ideas. Flight simulators are a great example of how video game technology can help educate, and I’m sure designers will apply this technology to a range of educational fields. I think learning to fly in a simulator is definitely better, because it gives you the opportunity for “constructive failure” where you can learn from your mistakes…real 747’s aren’t so forgiving in the constructive failure category.


  4. DavidBraid
    Jan 18, 2011 @ 22:07:23

    i’ve seen something similar in the medical profession. while my brother was in medical school, he had a role-playing game where a patient had just entered the Emergency Room and you had to decipher the symptoms being shown as well as knowing which follow-up questions to know exactly how to diagnose the individual. it was fun for me to try as well, though if you didn’t succsfully diagnose the patient he/she died. this made me try and try again until I got it right. though the real life consequences are lowered if one fails, it still gives the individual great practice and helps them be prepared for when they do face similar situations in life (could this be similar to gee’s “psychosocial morotarium” principle?)


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