Game Based Learning: A Paradigm Shifting Opportunity for Innovation

Mike Shumake writes about game based learning in his article “Game Based Learning: A Paradigm Shifting Opportunity for Innovation.” Shumake explains that gamers are always interacting with technology and there is not a question of whether or not technology is now the socially acceptable way to hang out with others or have fun solo. Shumake continues to explain that his friend and brother play both computer games, Xbox games and board games in order to socialize with others and entertain themselves when playing alone. This observation gave Shumake an understanding of why games are so interactive and engaging for young adults. These observations gave Shumake the idea to apply video game based learning in the classroom as well. Shumake explains that game based learning is a “hot item” now in the classroom among new teaching techniques taught by teachers. The 21st Century Teaching and Learning Best Practices explains that game based learning is the top item for teaching in the classroom.

Shumake explains that game  based learning is not about the technology, it is completely about the game. When explaining games in education, he explains that education is important, however the educational aspect is not relevant if the game is not fun in the first place. The game has to be enjoyable in order to engage the students and if the game isnt fun, then the game is just as traditional of a method of teaching as any other traditionally used technique used by teachers in the classroom today. A lot of the time, the attention when creating video games is only based on the educational aspect and not on the enjoyable fun aspect that draws students into the games in the first place. Without the engaging fun aspect of the game, the educational game is useless and not anymore educational or engaging then using pen and paper and a drawing board.

Shumake led a team that tried to create a game based online course with a videogame company. He explains that his team assumed that while making a video game it had to be in a virtual reality and went into this project with no direction. Shumake explains that he faced many challenges including making the actual video game design with no skills or understanding as to how to create a video game. He also explains that his vision for the game resembled games that students were already familiar with, however they added an educational component. While struggling with the game design, Shumake explains that he also struggled with trying to fit the educational aspect into the game design and was unsure of how to incorporate education into a virtual design.

The issue explained by Shumake is that Video game based learning is expensive to design for the educational sector and it lacks flexibility and creativity. In contrast, Game based learning can be cheap to design and is fun with flexibility and creativity. After seeing these observations, Shumake changed his point of view and vision for his game design with his friend Adrian Dunston’s advice in mind. Dunston is Shumake’s avid game playing friend that understands the engaging and critical components of educational game design. After thinking through these observations, Shumake continued to approach his game design in different ways. Many of his ideas included creating a story line game design where the player chooses their own adventure. Each adventure would be planned out one week at a time as the story line progressed.

Shumake’s other ideas included using Facebook as an introduction utility to show the setting and situation of the game based learning design. He understands that students will know how to use Facebook, Twitter, Google Voice, Gmail, Google Talk, Evernote, Google Calendar, youtube, Soundcloud and others. Because of this, he plans to incorporate different technological media to bring students towards increasing engagement in the learning setting. Shumake also discusses other approaches that involve revealing more of the game, but only with correct answers from the player. This way the player is more motivated to continue the game in order to receive more game content thats new. He also explains that it is important to be flexible with game design and be prepared and open minded to changing the game, as well as the direction of the game as it develops. It is important for students to bring their own creativity to the stage.

In the article, there is an example of how it is possible to bring a creative component to the classroom that is connected to the curriculum. Shumake explains how creative role playing games can introduce a new topic involving World History, Language  Arts and Biology. The role playing game involves groups of students as the game playing team and the teacher as the architect. This allows the teacher to control the rules in a fun and interactive way where students are still able to learn. Role playing games can also be used in math where the students are dependent on the math in order to excel in the game. Shumake gives the example of World of Warcraft with gear weights, character stats and experience to show dependence on math in a game. In order to excel the player must understand math, however the math is heavily integrated into the game in a way that does not distract from the enjoyment of the game.

Another example where role playing is used is in world history. Shumake imagines the students role playing in a emerging civilization and then as they move through out the game they move ahead in time through world history. With each new time period, the students excel through the game and understand famous historical events and people. While experiencing the emerging new societies, the students come to understand problems that people of the past have faced and because the students role played the time periods, they are more likely to remember the issues and famous events that occurred in the past. This same idea can be used in biology to understand the evolutionary chain and ecological relationships. Shumake explains that this idea can be used in all different educational topics.

This article can be found here: http://gettingsmart.com/blog/2012/03/game-based-learning-a-paradigm-shifting-opportunity-for-innovation/

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