Amidst a Mobile Revolution in Schools, Will Old Teaching Tactics Work?

Tina Barseghian explains how now that there is new technology, she is concerned that old teaching tactics that include pen, paper and a chalkboard will not work or engage students in the classroom. Tina writes about this idea in her article, “Amidst a Mobile Revolution in Schools, Will Old Teaching Tactics Work?” Tina explains that less than a decade ago, using your cell phone in school was looked at as completely unacceptable, where nowadays students use their cell phones 24/7 and depend upon them for not only daily tasks, but as educational tools as well. Chris Dede has worked in the field of education technology for many years and even he is surprised at the vast use of cell phones in the school setting. He explains that mobile learning is being used more frequently in schools than other forms of technology that he has seen.

Statistics show that about 80% of students have cell phones and because this consumer market is so large, this explains the usage of cell phones in the classroom and the rapid speed of this growing technological tool. The author explains that using cell phones in the classroom went from a silly idea to inevitable. One fact i found extremely interesting from the article is that 62% of schools allow cell phones to be used on school grounds, but not in classrooms. When I was in school you were not allowed to bring your cell phone to school, let alone use it during school hours. I think that overtime technology will continue to be more accepted in schools, especially as the technology raised youth turn into leaders and teachers in this country. Many schools are currently being coached on how to use technology including cell phones in the classroom.

I agree with using cell phones in the classroom, because if students are going to use their cell phone anyways and break the rules anyways, then they might as well have to use their phone in an educational way rather than texting their friends while being on their phones. iPads are definitely one form of technology that has taken over many schools. Over 1.5 million iPads have been distributed into educational settings. In addition to those iPads, many brands that are not made by apple are also distributed to schools as well. Using iPads instead of books has become the most frequent device used in the educational setting. Many students use their iPads in the classroom for interactive quizzes and to view educational videos as well. By using these iPads, the students become more engaged because they are able to use the technology they love and are accustom to while learning. One thing the article mentioned is that kindergarden students are using the iPad to learn to read instead of books. Although I do not think that this is necessary, it is pretty funny. Teachers also benefit from using iPads as well. Technology allows teachers to receive test scores faster and to understand the status of the classroom pertaining to how the students are doing in the class and how much of the material they have grasped.

Tina explains that many students use their smartphones instead of the desktop computers offered by the school to look up information because the smartphones are faster and the technology is more advanced. Students use the smartphones in particular to calculate, map and to take notes. I know i have personally taken small notes on my phone because it is more convenient to carry around an iPhone than a big binder and pens. Although the technology that Tina discusses is important for students in order to engage them and incorporate this new generation that is centered around technology, it is important to ask “What real and lasting effect will they (direct tech applications for learning) have on the formal learning equation?” “How do we use these tools to gage a successful mobile learning program?” With new technology, this means that the students have to be the guinea pigs and this is definitely risky as these students have to be prepared for the real world as well. In what ways will these students be at an advantage in comparison to other students? In what ways will they be at a disadvantage to other students that learned with more traditional methods?

Technology, however, will definitely reach students in a meaningful way. Instead of students memorizing facts, they will play games and use things they love such as their mobile device to learn instead. When learning has meaning, students are more engaged and focused. They are also more motivated because they want to learn through these devices. The author also explains that many are worried about new technology being applied to traditional ways of teaching. In order to apply technology in a way that does not resemble old ways of teaching, it is important for the schools to change the pedagogy. Right now by using an iPad, the content being studied is the same as before, just on an iPad instead of in books. The author argues that we must change the way students learn new content.

Investing in iPads is useless if there are no gains by using the iPads. Although the iPad is convenient, the iPad needs to further advance the learning and engagement of the student in order to be worth switching over to this piece of technology. The test scores need to show better results in order for the iPads to be worth buying. As long as the iPads make an impact in learning and have the proof to show it, they are worth incorporating in the classroom. One iPad app showed that there was a 20% increase in algebra when using the iPad in comparison to those that did not use the iPad. These comparisons between traditional study techniques and new modern technology techniques are important to show drastic differences in the amount of engagement and motivation students have to learn. By using new technology, the students are more engaged and therefore more likely to learn more often rather then when they have to. The iPad and cell phone are just a few ways that technology can be incorporated into the learning environment.

This article can be found here:

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:

When Gaming Is Good for You

Robert Lee Hotz writes about when gaming is good for you and how video games can change a person’s brain for the better. Research has shown that gaming improves creativity, decision making and perception. Multiple benefits range from improved hand-eye coordination to vision changes that boost night driving vision. Another interesting piece of information regarding video games is that people who play games that are action based make decisions 25% faster than people who do not. With that said these people also do not decrease in accuracy while making these decisions. I find this fact extremely interesting and could definitely see how this is possible, as video gamers are constantly having different challenges thrown at them and have to make decisions quickly while playing. Research has shown that gamers make decisions up to four times faster than those that do not play games.

In addition, gamers also are better at multitasking due to various challenges and obstacles presented at once during a video game. Most people can only keep 4 concepts in mind at a time. Additional research shows that 42% of computer and video game players are women and they are  better at manipulating 3D objects. This was interesting to researchers because most of the time men are better at manipulating 3D images. The studies conducted observe adults overall. Although there are many advantages gained through game play, the article also addresses negative impacts associated with violent game play. Many studies show that violent video games show changes in brain function in young men after only a week of playing. The changes are associated with depressing activity related to emotional control.

There is also an association, according to the article and the researchers at Indiana University, between gaming and being overweight, introverted and depressed. Violent games often worry parents, however the advantages and disadvantages are both explained in the article. Hotz explains that gaming has become an expensive investment in the entertainment business. All game design, including educational game design is expensive. Other interesting facts about the income of video games includes computer games becoming a 25 billion dollars a year business and not only that but in 2010 gaming companies sold 257 million video and computer games. These figures were estimated by Entertainment Software Association. I believe this number of video game usage is enormous and much larger than i would have expected. Because video games are clearly widely used among students, educational video games with unique and engaging game design would also bring in this type of revenue as well. Educational video game design could definitely be another large source of income in the video game world.

Research has increased the amount of game play through mass experimentation discussing the neurobiology of learning. Many of these games have been played over 1 billion times since their creation. C. Shawn Green, a psychologist at the University of Wisconsin, explains that video games change your brain. He also explains that other interactive activities also change your brain as well. Learning to read, play the piano, and traveling are all examples that Green uses to describe how the brain’s structure is altered through games. Just as exercise builds muscles, Hotz explains, concentration strengthens neural circuits. “Games definitely hit the reward system in a way that not all activities do,” says Green. I definitely agree with this statement by Green because i think that immediate feedback is important for motivation when participating in interactive activities. The reward system in many other activities such as learning to play the piano is rewarded later on after a lot of practice. With games, there are rewards constantly because there are continuous challenges and different ways to practice and receive feedback quickly.

Joshua Lewis, an analyst at the University of California explains that “not enough attention has been paid to the unique and interesting features that video games have outside of the violence.” I agree with this statement because i think that the violence is just the surface level engagement. The deeper motivational and attention grabbing engagement is within the strategy and structure of the game. Structures that involve immediate feedback and multiple challenges that allow the player to succeed with room for challenge are the most successful. Behind the violence, many games could have any surface level design and attract students to play the game, especially in an educational way. I also found it interesting in this article that the average gamer is 34 years old. I also could not imagine anyone playing video games for up to 18 hours, however i guess they are just that engaging. It is crazy to imagine people playing video games that could educate them for 18 hours a week. Students would be able to retain so much more knowledge in an easier way and more practice with educational topics would be introduced.

Research specifically has discussed the effects of video games on cognition and behavior. Many game companies such as Blizzard Entertainment, do not comment on whether or not studies have been done on their games towards cognitive studies or behavioral studies. All computer games, however, do show changes in mental capabilities, specifically a child’s creativity. Studies now need to be compared to other mental activities such as solving math equations. Another interesting fact addressing standardized tests explains that one study for middle school students found that the more children play computer games, the more these children increase their standardized test scores. I find this correlation extremely interesting and would love to have heard more explanation as to why that is.

Although many video games had an effect on creativity, Hotz explains that using cell phones, the internet or computers for other purposes did not have an effect on creativity. Although this research has been done to discover the engaging aspect associated with video games, Hotz explains that education software has not been created so far as engaging as most action games currently are. Researchers question how important the violence in the video games are when creating educational video games. Up until recently, small groups of students had been experimenting new educational video games, now the studies are within the video games that are being distributed to students all around the country.

This article can be found here:

Video Games, Learning and Physical Health

Russell A. Sabella writes about video games and the benefits that come from learning through these interactive tools. Sabella writes, “Games are widely used as educational tools, not just for pilots, soldiers and surgeons, but also in schools and businesses… Games require players to construct hypotheses, solve problems, develop strategies, learn the rules of the in-game world through trial and error. Gamers must also be able to juggle several different tasks, evaluate risks and make quick decisions… PLaying games is, thus, an ideal form of preparation for the workplace of the 21st century, as some forward thinking forms are already starting to realize.” Sabella continues to explain that there is much evidence to support this statement. I believe that those that use video games in the work place will definitely be at an advantage in comparison to those that do not. The more practice that a person has in their specific profession allows for them to advance more than someone that simply practices during the times that are required.

If an individual practices their work because they want to and not because they have to, this will allow the individual to learn more than they would because they are putting in more hours of practice. The advantages to games is that the player will remember more because they are more engaged, more involved and more motivated to like what they are doing. The article lists many benefits of using video games that include but are not limited to; an introduction to computer technology, practicing following directions, provide practice in problem solving and logic, practice in fine motor and spacial skills, provide occasions for adults and children to play together, an introduction to information technology, many games provide therapeutic applications with patients, and finally games are entertaining.

One of the most recent findings discussed in the article addresses the benefits of video games in the life of surgeons. Studies have shown that surgeons that play video games make less mistakes than those who do not. Sabella writes, “researches found that doctors who spent at least three hours a week playing video games made about 37% fewer mistakes in laparoscopic surgery and performed the task 27% faster than their counterparts who did not play video games.” I found this research and statistic extremely insightful and significant evidence to show that spending more time while engaged in video games can enhance one’s ability to perform their profession such as being a surgeon in a greater way.

The Shoot Em Up game has shown that those players that have continued to play this game have better visual skills than those that do not play video games. Video games have the ability to strengthen hand-eye coordination because they are motivating, have a purpose and a goal. Research has shown that with little game playing the visual skills can be improved for  just about anyone. Physical health has also been affected in a positive way through video games. Dance Dance Revolution has been a great way to gain exercise without realizing that one is doing so. Often people do not want to exercise because it is boring, not motivating and tiring. By using games to exercise, people do not realize that they are exercising because they are motivated and distracted while playing.

Dance Dance Revolution has been one way to fight child obesity which has attracted the attention of many schools. Dance Dance Revolution has become apart of the fitness program in 756 state schools in West Virginia. The Wii has also served as a solution to childhood obesity because of the exercise that is gained through playing all different sports and dances. is a website that has partnered with Nintendo to deliver similar results to the Wii. I personally have issues getting myself to work out because of how tiring and boring working out can be, however i do enjoy the Wii and other interactive exercise games. The dancing games offered by programs like the Wii are extremely entertaining and fun. It is hard to realize how much exercise you are getting until you are out of breathe by the end of it. I believe that the game design of the Wii is also very attractive which is another reason why exercise and playing a sport seems more fun than in real life.

Sabella also writes about the cognitive and mental knowledge gained from playing video games. Through experience, new generations are more comfortable with visual spatial skills, mental maps and seeing the computer as a tool. Previous generations have issues with these skills because they are not apart of the game generation. An example of what new generations are capable of is being able to picture fold a shape in their mind with out actually doing it. They are extremely used to the 3D world. shows how different games are beneficial to all different types of skills. This could definitely be extremely beneficial in the classroom setting because teachers could use these games to strengthen the skills and knowledge of their students. This would definitely help those students that have issues focusing in the classroom and need to be engaged with assistance of interaction or unique game design.

Examples of these games include Pain Distraction Free Dive. This game has been shown to distract children from chronic pain and those undergoing painful operations. COTS history games are extremely beneficial when attempting to learn various facts and information that are normally overwhelming. This game includes all different periods through out history and breaks down facts in an easy and understanding way. Nutrition Feed The Monster is a game that teaches children how to eat properly and in a nutritious way through feeding the monster. Children learn early on healthy eating habits which assist with healthy habits later on in life and promote healthy living. Video games can definitely be used in all different fields to strengthen the lives of students. Students benefit from video games mentally, physically and emotionally. Through the use of video games, many professions such as surgeons can advance their skills and help people in need through the engaging use of games.

The article can be found here:

5 Teaching Tips for Professors—From Video Games

Jeffrey Young, the author of “5 Teaching Tips for Professors—From Video Games,” explains how video game usage can be incorporated into education, including college campuses. Young explains that college level school work is difficult and definitely not a joke. However, he further explains that video games can be incorporated to sustain student’s attention. Young describes how students will challenge themselves in a video game and are willing to face difficult tasks within video games, however when it comes to school work, students are opposed to challenges and would rather take the easy way out. In addition, students also learn a lot when using video games that are not necessarily educational because they are so invested in the challenges within the game. This idea can be applied to schooling with the usage of video games and therefore students will learn a lot.

Constance Steinkueler studies students while playing video games. She has made many discoveries as to how video games engage students and how this knowledge can be applied to learning environments. She has also observed that students will use their math skills in order to fight an unstoppable beast within a game. The combination of learning and great game design can work together in order to engage the student, while learning important concepts that are normally taught in a traditional school environment. Much data has been collected on the behavior of characters within games such as monsters and how to implement math into these game settings. Many of these games teach complex problem solving and collaborative learning to students.

The possibilities of games and higher learning have been further researched by many in order to understand the cooperation and engagement behind game design. A lot of the time, students do not realize that they are learning while playing games such as Oregon Trail. These types of games that do not seem like they are educational on the surface are the most appealing to students. Other games that teach geographical information, as well as other important concepts are “Where is Carmen San Diego?”, “Darfur is Dying” and “Global Conflicts: Palestine.” The issue with many games is that they are not fun because they are solely based on the educational aspects and do not focus on the engaging game design aspect. The designer of The Sims is Will Wright. Wright explains that we take subjects too seriously and thats why adding fun to them is scary. Because we take topics too seriously, the games are unattractive. Fun has to be added to the game in order for students to pay attention to it.

There are five main lessons that professors use in order to balance video games and learning. The first lesson is “give frequent and detailed feedback.” Most games display some type of scoring in order to measure how the player is doing within the game. The first lesson is that students need to know how they are doing in order to become more interested in the game. Students need to know how good they are at playing the game and need the initial feedback in order to continue or care about playing in the first place. In classroom settings, students do not always get immediate feedback and that is one of the issues because students become less motivated. Immediate grades on specific assignments are more meaningful than one overall general grade. If a student is good in some areas, but bad in others, their grade could result as just mediocre when really they are excellent in areas that are not being highlighted to paid attention to.

The second lesson that professors use is to “test before going live.” Video games have hundreds of testers before allowing people to play their game. A lot of the time the games are not hard enough or they are too hard and this makes it unattractive to the student playing the game. It is important for the game to have enough challenges, but also important that the player realizes that with practice they are capable of excelling and achieving more through out the game. It is also important to be able to identify the challenges and the rough spots through out the game. If everything is unexpected than the game could seem random or impossible. The surroundings within the game design have to make sense and have a purpose. In the classroom setting, many teachers have tested games on their students and then tried to further solve the issues as to why the students are unable to excel within the game. Then the game design changes to attract and engage the user.

It is also important for professors to relay the message, “why are we learning this.” This is the third important lesson addressing video games within the classroom. If you want to deliver math in a game then you must do it in a way that has purpose and goes along with the story line that is incorporated in the game design. The story of the game is the powerful motive to keep the player engaged. By incorporating the educational principles into the game design, the player will understand the purpose of learning while playing along with the story line. This way the obstacles of the game do not seem like busy work and the student is motivated enough to learn and continue playing the game. If there is a purpose and a goal and the student can answer the question, “why are we learning this?” then they are more likely to learn the most.

The fourth lesson is not to be afraid of fun. A lot of the time professors are afraid to make learning fun because they feel that the students are slacking off and not actually learning the material. However, this assumption that learning is supposed to be dry, tedious and awful does not keep students learning as much as they could be. This assumption is not true and has the opposite affect on students because they are less likely to become engaged. Instead they are turned off by the material being presented. The fifth lesson is that not every subject works as a game. Educational games are difficult to design and if the game is not meant for the subject, then its better to learn in a traditional learning environment. Education games need to be designed well in order for students to have fun while learning just as much, if not more than they would be in a normal classroom setting.

The article can be found here:

White House Office Studies Benefits of Video Games By Greg Toppo

Constance Steinkueler is a senior policy analyst at the White House office of Science and Technology Policy. She currently shapes policies around improving health, education, civic engagement, environment, as well as many other areas through the use of games. This approach by using technology through the use of games in politics is new to the White House and her methods show that the use of games in learning is continuing to grow. Experimentation through games has been taken very seriously by many political leaders in order to improve not only politics, but other areas that improve and contribute to bettering one’s life as well. I found this article particularly interesting because i am a political science major. This article not only incorporates ideas from education 222, but also incorporates politics.

Currently Steinkueler has sustained her every day political role to research and improve education through games. She has been studying at the University of Wisconsin in the School of Education with the MacArthur Foundation funding. The MacArthur Foundation is one of the largest foundations that supports the idea of video games and learning in the classroom and funds for research to be done in order to implement these new visions of technology in the classroom. Steinkueler says, “the job represents an incredible opportunity to make good on the claim that games have real promise.” By using games Greg Toppo, the author of the article, explains that learning is able to reach multiple groups of people and cross generations. Games do not limit learning, they only expand the amount of people that can learn from this technology. Toppo explains that games like Angry Birds, that are casual and easy to use games on cell phones, show this evidence because people of multiple different ages use this game and are open to learning from it.

Research that i found surprising from this article is that the average age of a typical gamer is thirty seven years old. The Entertainment Software Association has showed these findings over research that has been done since 1999. The percentage of gamers over fifty years old has tripled over the past decade. I also found this fact surprising, however with new technology i believe that this is definitely the reason for people becoming more accustom to using games online and through the internet, as well as through the use of the television. Toppo explains that this research opposes the idea of the typical teenage geek that plays video games all day and shows that people of all generations play video games and are susceptible to learning from them as well. Video games are for everyone.

The ESA also explains that 42% of gamers are women which shows that not only boys play video games. These statistics used by the ESA show how video games can be used for all generations and all sexes in order to learn because everyone plays video games and would prefer to learn through a game rather than traditional methods. Although video games often receive bad press, they are key to learning and offer various skills learned through the vast content. The amount of video games that teach has expanded over the years and will continue to expand and change the minds of many political leaders. Even Barack Obama, who claims that screen time is detrimental to young students, has come to see the positive effects of video game usage in terms of learning. However, he stresses that not all video games are important, only the ones that are well designed and offer something aside from blowing something up. He also explained to students that he wants them to have games to learn from that are just as compelling as games that are not necessarily for learning.

I definitely agree with Obama’s statement about well designed games that are compelling. I think that the only way for students to learn is if the skills of the game are hidden or do not distract from the attraction of playing the game. A well designed educational video game needs to attract the player and keep their attention in order to learn. Putting skills into a game does not make it different from traditional learning methods. The game has to teach something and also compel the player at the same time, just as much as another game would, maybe even more if you want the student to play the educational game rather than the game with bombs, guns and killing people.

Implementing video games within politics only makes the use of video games more influential and the likeliness that video games are more prevalent in the classroom more positive. Steinkueler explains that by doing research with agencies that already use video games, this will allow us to learn how to implement them further into politics, schooling and society as well. After asking government officials who has been using video games, Steinkueler expected to hear about 20 responses and instead heard about 130 responses. After 24 hours she was able to coordinate a group to contribute to the government gaming portfolio that would allow more insight into video game learning. Steinkueler also explains that her video game experience has helped her to become a better leader through games like World of Warcraft. I found this interesting as this is my game of choice for the class.

Many events through out history have limited the amount of accepted game play. The Columbine High School shootings put a bad name on video games and stereotyped them as negatively influential in the behavior of young students. However, recently government and private enterprises have turned to games for learning, training and teaching. Because many serious games have emerged, this has influenced the usage of games in many areas that are educational. One example is the game “Foldit Void Crushers Group” which allows students to fold proteins in the most efficient ways and this type of game could potentially lead to curing diseases such as HIV and cancer. These types of games do not influence poor behavior that concerns many parents and teachers and compels students to learn without the negative impact of violent games.

This article can be found here:

A New School Teaches Students Through Video Games

Susannah F. Locke writes about a school that uses video-game based lessons to teach new classes of students each year. Locke writes that using video games could be the future of learning and although many spectators feel this is controversial, Locke sees that this definitely is not a bad thing. Quest to Learn is a school that uses video game strategy in order to educate students through engagement and preparation. This type of learning is to prepare them for high-tech careers in the future. Locke explains that video games outperform teachers because they keep students paying attention for hours at a time. The amount of practice and engagement gives students more time working on key concepts that are expected to be learned in the classroom.

Students are less likely to give up in a video game because they are more likely to keep trying after realizing the addictive and enticing aspect of the video game. Locke explains that because students give up, this is the reason that on 1/3 of eighth graders are proficient in math. Because of this issue with engagement, the MacArthur Foundation started a nonprofit group of game designers to create education games that students can learn from in the classroom environment. After testing the games the Quest to Learn school opened. There are currently 72 students enrolled and the class is broken into four groups that rotate through five classes through out the day. The classes include Codeworlds which is math and english, Space and Place which is social studies and english, The Way Things Work which is math and science, Sports for the Mind which is game design and Wellness which is health and gym class. Students often work in groups to work through problems sets collaboratively. The projects require the New York State curriculum and cover various topics relating to this curriculum.

The school is modeled off of over thirty years of research that shows how putting a student in a context in which they will use the information they have learned is the most useful and students learn the most this way. An example that Locke uses is that students would learn by pretending they are Spartan spies gathering information on Athens rather than learning facts by memorizing concepts about ancient Greece. In the sixth grade classroom, they identify integers through a code-breaking game. Students also learn through a game called Troggles in which students need to move heavy objects and must learn about building force and how to minimize it in order to move the objects. The concepts also draw on complex systems where at other schools students at this young age would not be able to understand or pick up in the traditional way of teaching. By teaching students about complex systems this will prepare them for areas that involve bioformatics.

Students are also expected to attend Quest through high school and are expected to pass the standardized tests that normal public school administer each year. Gregg Betheil is the NYC Department Education Director and believes that “we need new ways to create a passion for learning.” He believes that the planning behind these games must be extremely well thought through to ensure the greatest success in learning through game design. Betheil says, “the planning has been extremely thoughtful. It seemed like a chance worth taking.” The first class of students has not graduated yet, however once they do various studies will be set in place to observe the effects of learning through the Quest school opposed to traditional learning techniques. One of the students already enrolled in the Quest says that school is fun and her least favorite part about school is when she has to leave.

Many of the comments posed by others that have read the article think it is comical that students have to “reach level 73” for homework that night. But also agree that it is important to implement video games into learning because kids are able to relate to the games in a way that is impossible through traditional learning techniques. In addition, there are also various students with disabilities that would not normally be able to learn in the traditional classroom setting. This type of learning engages students that have trouble playing attention and gives these students the opportunity to succeed. In a normal learning environment these students would never have this chance, which is why i personally believe that students should be given opportunities to learn in different ways and to attend different types of schools. If only 1/3 of 8th grade students are proficient in math, what is there to lose really?

Many comments also emphasize that the real world does not act like a video game, which is a key point to address. However, in many ways even if the world does not act like a video game, the way in which students react to problems they are presented with could act like a video game by using strategies and independent thinking. Although the world is not a giant video game, the strategies and the type of thinking gained from using video games could potentially create a different way of solving issues that are present in the college environment and the work environment as well. The type of preparation that games offer gives the students a relaxed and less stressful feel when approaching familiar topics.

Another factor that spectators worry about is where the funding will come from over time because game design is so expensive and new technology costs a lot of money. Questions posed are how will these foundations keep creating new designs without continuous funding? Will the proof of students that attend Quest succeeding in the real world be enough to keep funding increasing? I think that this school is definitely a great idea, but how many parents will use their child as a guinea pig? How do colleges look at these schools and are students more or less likely to be accepted? How fair is this type of acceptance in comparison to other high schools and will colleges create more video games classes for students to continue to excel in?

This article can be found here:

Learning with Computer Games and Simulations

Games and simulations are both interactive multimedia with user control, however games and simulations are different from one another. Games offer a goal or challenge and although simulations are very similar to games, they do not offer a goal or challenge in the same way a game does. It is clear that video games can offer a new way to learn, however the material actually being learned from a video game can be controversial. Because video games are extremely engaging and can grasp student’s attention in a way that traditional learning techniques cannot, it is important to researchers to formulate and hypothesize how to take video games and apply them the right way to lead learning in the right direction. Researchers have done many tests and observations of video games and learning to test how best to support education and learning through the use of video games and simulations.

Learning with video games can also be used to support students with disabilities as well, to try a new approach to learning in a different way that is not traditional. Games are a great way to capture students’ attention that would not normally be able to function in the traditional learning environment because of attention issues or other disabilities. The article being discussed focuses on research of video games and simulations, choosing the right video games for the classroom setting, video game and simulation resources and more detail that follows the research to back up the author’s main points. The article has been created through the Research Center to gather information regarding video games and the use of video games in the classroom setting.

The research conducted by the Research Center has found that by playing games students are not only more engaged, but specifically girls are more likely to be interested in exploration that games create. I find this point very surprising because usually when one thinks of video games and adventure the stereotypical characteristics of boys come to mind. However, the study shows that this type of learning specifically engages girls. An example of this game that would engage girls is Discover Babylon. In this game, the player travels through time using different skills that are normally learned within the classroom environment such as math, reading and writing. Many games and simulations allow students to experience situations in which they would not normally experience in real life. The classroom setting can only be taken so far because of time and money, as well as permission slips and other factors.

One game that allows students to explore different types of situations is Chemsense. This game allows students to explore with dangerous chemicals to see the effects and how matter changes with these chemicals. Normally students, especially young students would not be able to get access to chemicals especially hazardous chemicals to learn about the changes that result from mixing different substances. This game allows students to have that experience through simulation instead of playing with dangerous and hazardous substances. In other situations, students will eventually be able to experience what is presented in the game or simulation. However, because the experience is dangerous or needs preparation, the simulation will introduce the subject and the necessary rules and regulations, as well as preparation before experiencing specific learning situations.

One of the coolest games mentioned in the article is the Froguts game. In Froguts, students are able to dissect a frog through a simulation before actually dissecting it. This allows the student to prepare for the real dissection and ensures that the student makes less errors and does a better and improved job when dissecting the live frog. I think this game is very beneficial and relates back to our in class discussions and lectures addressing simulations that can assist doctors and surgeons while performing surgery on patients. After all, practice makes perfect! Students have been observed as being more confident after practicing with the simulations when pursuing the actual dissection of the frogs.

Research has also shown that guidance is extremely important when learning a new computer game or simulation. It is important to have directions, but more importantly to have immediate feedback at vital points within the game or simulation. Games also need to highlight critical points within the game so students are guided in the right direction regarding what to pay attention to and what is most important to learn from. It is not assumed that students can gather the important aspects of the game without guidance and simply on their own. More often than not, students are more overwhelmed by the various features included by a game instead of paying attention to the important more innovative aspects of the game. This is definitely comparable to many situations where students need to focus on one aspect, but there are distractions to keep the student from focusing on what is vital.

Another game that is really cool that is mentioned in the article that also relates to class discussion is Immune Attack. Immune Attack allows the player to be guided by a mentor through out the game and more specifically the immune system and throughout the body. The goal of the game is to learn about different parts of the body including immunity in relation to different cells. There is a lot of instruction and guidance which lowers stress and anxiety when working with patients with immune issues in a realistic setting. Games prepare students for the real world and create practice where there is not real life practice. Games are also in the long term a less expensive way to practice rather than practicing on a cadaver for instance. Also, experiencing practice on a cadaver can still be stressful, which is why games offer a slow introduction to a sensitive and gory topic.

It is very important that while playing games, students have the right skills in order to face the challenge. This type of match allows the student to feel more comfortable and confident about meeting the offered challenge. This type of comfort and confidence transfers to a real life setting and allows students to perform beyond their expectations.

The article can be found here:

The Benefits of Video Games

Scott Steinberg is an author to many parenting books that unite children and adults through the use of technology. Steinberg views technology as extremely beneficial to both children and adults in various environments. The Benefits of Video Games explores the different settings in which technology particularly video games can strengthen one’s skills. Steinberg explains that a recent study found that video games could improve literacy skills when there is strong parental and teacher cooperation. The study focused on young children around the age of 5 that would focus on recognizing letters and words in print and the concepts behind each one.

The study also found that underprivileged students are more likely to learn in a setting that incorporates more educational videos and games into the classroom setting. This way students are able to explain concepts within the games in a way that they understand. Older children are able to benefit through games in a different way. Older children in their teens are able to benefit through games by learning basic every day skills. Through the World of Warcraft students are able to learn through team work and understand working towards a common goal in unison. College students are able to improve from video games as well. Studies show that a college in Ontario increased their test scores from 56%-95% from role playing games in a 3D simulation.

Although it is easier to understand how students would learn from games, it is especially surprising to hear that adults can benefit from video games as well. Steinberg explains that video games help adults by processing information much faster. Adults are able to reason and solve problems in context. Video games such as Guitar Hero or Brain Age can also improve hand-eye coordination, reacting to decisions and boost auditory perception. However, Dr. Ezriel Kornel explains that playing these games is not enough, you must improve to achieve these skills that are a result of game playing. Improvement is a result of learning each time you play. Kornel explains that every time a person plays a game “new synapses are forming between the neurons. So you’re creating thousands of connections that can then be applied to other tasks as well.”

Steinberg explains that a game may just save a life one day if the medical field practices games as well. A study from the Archives of Surgery explains that surgeons who play video games are better at performing laparoscopic surgery. Dr. Jeffrey Taekman explains that “serious games and virtual environments are the future of education.” Medical students have the ability to practice on digital patients and these simulations offer the medical world an advantage. With these simulations the students are able to make a decision and see immediate results, allowing them to learn from their mistakes with out having to do so on a real life patient. By learning through games, you are able to build upon instantly what you have learned and apply it in the same context.

Brain activity has also been affected by gaming because by playing video games, this allows the player to multitask. Video games allow improvement in areas such as attention, accuracy, vision and multitasking. Driving for example can be improved through video games because while driving the driver encounters multiple changing environments with an end goal while at the same time the driver is faced with distractions and obstacles. In addition to multitasking, the social benefits of video games are also evident. Video games have a stereotype towards players being loners or anti-social, however video games bring people together. Games bring families together where there are generation gaps. Games allow people to relate to one another and can bring people together that would not normally hang out with one another.

There are also games that have positive lessons and messages that encourage children to make good choices. Games with good lessons are more likely to contribute to helpful behaviors such as helping someone solve a situation the right way and make the right choice or to volunteer. There are also many games such as United Nations Food Force that teach children about real issues present in the world today. There are practical humanitarian challenges and issues involved and aside from overcoming these obstacles, students are further informed of issues prevalent in society. Many other games such as Food Pyramid Adventure encourage healthy eating habits.

In the adult world, there are also many career benefits that result from playing video games. Career choices are heavily influenced by technology and new skills are learned from playing games. Mobile gaming apps will be extremely valuable to students in the workforce in the years to come. The Federation of American Scientists argues that students need more game play, not less. They understand that video games allow students to address pressing issues our society faces and prepare students for a competitive global market. The Federation of American Scientists also argues that video games teach high order thinking including strategic thinking, interpretive analysis, problem solving, plan formation and execution and the ability to adapt to continuous change.

These skills are definitely what employers look for in new employees that they hire. Games will continue to educate workers around the world that have government duties, trade and include large corporations. Interactive software can be used for training purposes, interviews and resume. In addition games encourage cooperation and teamwork. Teamwork in games is highly representative of working with others in the work place. In addition, games allow people to gain self-acceptance and confidence. This allows people to feel more positive about themselves through a sense of achievement.

One of the most important factors represented and encouraged by games is exercise. Games promote exercise when a nation such as ours lacks exercise especially among young students. Games incorporate exercise into one’s daily life in a way that is not a burden or time consuming with other desired activities. Games are a more approachable way to stay physically fit such as the Wii. This way people can have fun, be engaged and work out with out even noticing. Games assist students and adults in various ways and work positive attributes into one’s life that they would not normally benefit from.

This article can be found here:

Learning By Playing: Video Games in the Classroom

Sara Corbett, author of the article Learning By Playing: Video Games in the Classroom, explores a middle school classroom in New York City that dives into learning through a different approach than in your average classroom setting. Corbett describes the classroom as nothing but ordinary, however the lessons taught inside the classroom are nothing but unique. Al Doyle teaches within this classroom and has taught for over 32 years in Manhattan, mainly in art and computer graphics. Doyle currently teaches in a school called Quest to Learn that focuses on Sport for the Mind. Students attended this class three times a week and focuses on new media literacies, multimodal and multicultural. In other words Corbett says this is really just a class in technology and game design.

Students learn lessons on enemy movement and the students must observe how the robots in the game move around. After this observation the students are to draw on graph paper a chart of patterns that they have observed within the game. After observing one another’s charts, they would then create their own games. Other lessons in the classroom involved Doyle presenting a video game screen on the white board where the 6th graders would gather in front of it explaining to Doyle the moves he would have to make in order to get through the maze without dying. The students would have to work with one another as a team to get past the robots and to obtain reward points. The entire class is involved in the game together and the focus of the students was extremely engaging as they led Doyle through the maze.

One of Doyle’s students that was extremely engaged gave him advice regarding points and the amount of time he had to get the points. The student suggested that it was not enough points for the cost of time it took to get them. The student offered Doyle another strategy and took his advice when continuing the game. Doyle explained to the student that it was hard for him to pay attention to the time because he did not grow up with these games. As Doyle continued to the play the game and the students cheered and awed with every turn of the character Doyle played, he won with two seconds left. After observing this game play, the author asks, so does this actually teach anything? What have the students learned?

Corbett explains that giving up traditional learning techniques would be extremely radical, however it may be worth it. Especially in an era where children are so digitally savvy and everything is downloadable. Katie Salen, a game designer believes that connecting students to school and the world outside of school can be shown through games. Video games are seen as powerful tools of exploration and because of their speed and capability, students are able to learn more. Because of this these games are central to the education of students. The MacArthur Foundation has given $50 million dollars towards digital media and learning in hopes that similar results will come from Salen’s Quest to Learn school.

The New York City School is somewhat of an experiment to see if technology in schools should serve as a model for new schools being built. By using technology methods in schools, many believe that students will be prepared for the real world in a way that can only happen through the engaging world of digital media and technology, specifically game usage. The students are chosen by lottery to attend the new found school. The school operates on a public school budget, however the MacArthur Foundation keeps the school going with new technology. The school is intensely observed and the students are carefully watched in order to gage the strength and progression of the school.

Salen represents a large group of educators that believe that going to school should be similar to playing a game where students are engaged and motivated in a competitive environment to learn and grow. The students are not given grades, but are given levels of expertise such as pre-novice, novice, apprentice, senior, master. They face challenges on a daily basis that are overcome by working with one another in a group setting. I find this extremely interesting and would love to attend  this school. I wish this type of learning was around when i was in middle school and high school. The students solve problems with the teach offering guidance, but less than traditional instruction.

Each problem has been specifically designed to teach the student a certain lesson, however the student learns the lesson more so on their own rather than the teacher feeding the student information. By working with one another, the students overcome the challenges presented to them. There are many assignments that are traditional, however many assignment involve blogging, video game design, film and podcasts, including playing actual video games of course. A lot of time is spent by students creating games, specifically board games and computer games. Salen believes that building a game is like building a mini world with obstacles, rules and goals. Because of this the game built involves many skills such as math, writing, art, computer programming, deductive reasoning and critical thinking. I agree with this idea because i believe that when a student builds something it takes multiple areas of skills to ensure the game plays out correctly.

This leads us to ask, what types of skills are needed in the everyday world beyond the classroom? Does this type of learning through the Quest to Learn school give students an advantage after they have graduated and are in the working world? Are students more competitive and how do they view new challenges that are brought to their attention? Although this has continued to be an experiment in education, i definitely see this as a step towards broadening education for students. This type of learning will be a way to motivate and engage students in a way that students do not forget what they have learned because of their devotion to the game setting within school.

The article can be found here:

Colleges’ Latest Thrust in Learning: Video Games

Brianno Coller is an engineering professor at Northern Illinois University. Coller began teaching and soon realized that he did not like teaching math in a traditional way and began exploring different teaching techniques including teaching through video games. As an instructor Coller realized that the material was dry and felt the need to excite students in the classroom by creating a competitive environment. This type of environment definitely resembles the learning environment within our own education 222 classroom. After realizing that there was a better way to teach math to his students he began implementing video games into the classroom setting.

After designing his own video game, his students are apart of a virtual race where they build virtual race cars and face challenges that build their engineering skills along the way. Students are exposed to computational math through a challenging course that continues to increase as you play. This type of learning allows the students to learn from their mistakes and build their math skills without using a textbook and without the more traditional technique of learning. Coller believes that students should not look at homework or learning in general as a chore or a burdening activity. By incorporating video games into his classroom, Coller allows the students to look at learning as “an interesting journey.”

From Coller’s experience, he has seen positive effects on video games and learning. Through out the country many teachers have adapted similar teaching techniques to Coller’s involving video games. Their goal is to stimulate learning and encourage students to motivate themselves in a competitive environment. The author of the article, Mary Beth Marklein, explains that there are many examples of different video games that colleges use in the classroom environment. These examples include; Melody Mixer, this game is used at the University of Wisconsin to teach students how to read and compose their own music. At Mercyhurst College in Erie, PA, they play World of War Craft in order to explain intelligence studies through the multiplayer game. In addition, at Boston College, nursing students use forensics through a virtual crime scene.

Larry Johnson, CEO of the non-profit New Media Consortium, explains that we need to make learning more engaging in order for students to become motivated and want to learn. Johnson predicts that there will be an increase in game-based learning in higher education within the next three years. Students learn differently and game-based learning will really allow students that do not learn as easily to understand material that they would not normally be able to understand. Johnson says, “Games can open that door for many students.”

Recently, game-based learning has been supported through the U.S. Education Department’s new technology plan. Most game-based learning initiatives have been focused primarily on elementary and high school education levels. Sandra Day O’Connor, a retired Supreme Court Justice encourages teachers to show their students iCivics, a web based game that is to be used with 5th-12th graders. Many schools in Chicago and New York have based their curriculum around games that are a lot like iCivics.

A Kaiser Family Foundation study taken in 2010 shows that 60% of kids ages 8-18 play video games everyday for about two hours. Video game usage has only increased over time and with new educational games available engaging students is less of a challenge within the classroom. I definitely agree with involving games within the classroom. Often students tend to study and forget the material because it is dry and uninterested, however when information is associated with a game, the material is more likely to be retained within one’s memory. I personally have experienced this idea through my own coursework and i believe that if i had learned much of the information through a game, i would still remember it today.

Johnson explains that it is not only important for students to be familiar with video games within the classroom, but the faculty has to be used to playing video games and understanding their importance in the classroom. The teacher has to be able to relate the game to the students and translate how playing the game is functional and beneficial to the student. The teacher also has to approve that the game covers the amount of material that should be covered for the specific grade level. Marklein also explains that not all colleges need to have high-tech virtual games in order to learn, many students play board games and learn through non-computer or technology oriented games.

At Mercyhurst, intelligence studies departments have used the game Clue. Another example is at the University of New Haven, students play the game Black Death and are introduced to psychology and economics through the card game that leaves students holding a Joker that falls victim to the plague. At Barnard College students play Reacting to the Past which is a role playing game developed by a history professor that does not require software. This game has spread through out 300 campuses and involve texts and costumes.

Although video games have been successful on many campuses and within many grade school learning environments, video games have been suspected to decrease a student’s academic performance. A recent study found a correlation between video games for fun and risky behavior. However, other studies have found that video games increase classroom learning and therefore, video games continue to be a controversial learning tool in the classroom environment. One student explained that he began doing his homework all the time because the video games became addicting and he learned so much more. Alex Raz says, “It’s like really learning, not like just going through the motions on paper.”

Although many educators remain skeptical of the use of video games in the classroom, students have reacted to video games positively with compelling evidence from various campuses and grade level education nation wide. I personally believe that video games will increase within the learning environment within the next decade. I also believe that teachers will adapt learning techniques that resemble those used in video games to reach that next level. The important part of learning to become engaged and motivated, what better way to do that then through the use of video games!

The article can be found here…

Ten Surprising Truths about Video Games and Learning by Tina Barseghian

Barseghian discusses the points made by James Paul Gee at the Learning and the Brain Conference in her article, Ten Surprising Truths about Video Games and Learning. From our class readings it is obvious that Gee, a leading authority on literacy and education games, understands the connection between learning in the classroom environment in correspondence to video games. Gee questions our initial assumptions about learning and brain functions. Research has shown that experience and the memory we obtain through experience enhance our ability to progress and eventually succeed at learning, in the same way we learn to move forward in video games. Gee explains the ten truths about video games and why they are good for learning. The article summarizes the ten truths that were explained by Gee at the Learning and the Brain Conference. His theory is explained through the following truths; the first is to “feed the learning process”. Video games feed the learning process by giving feedback and to the player and allowing the player to understand the goal and how their mistakes interact with the game they are playing. The player should be motivated by the game when the game has immediate feedback that allowed the player to predict the outcome.

The second truth is to “obviate testing”. Gee believes that tests in schools are unnecessary and should be eliminated because of the way that video games allow the player to advance in a much more retaining way. The player in a video game will retain the information needed to get to the next level of a game because they have to do so in order to get to the next level. I definitely think this is an important point on Gee’s part, however I would also like to know how the same “playing by levels” would translate into the school environment. How would we replace tests with what we know about reaching new levels in video games? The third truth is to “build on experience”. This is Gee’s most obvious and most emphasized truth. From experience comes success by learning from previous interaction. The next truth I find interesting because it gives teachers a new position and allows students to look at teachers in a different ways. It forces the students to view teachers as the game makers rather than their boring teachers. This truth is called, “redefine teachers as learning designers”. This principle encourages teachers to design a lesson based on what they want to students to know. In this sense, the teacher would create an experience that would establish the outcome that the teacher intended for. I definitely like this truth, however I would have liked a further example from Gee explaining the type of Game Design a teacher would create.

The fifth truth to “teach language through experience.” This means that we need to use the same language in school that we are using outside of school and visa versa. In the same way that one forgets a language such as Spanish or French when they only use it in school, we need to use these language outside of school as well in order to retain the information. I definitely agree with this point that Gee makes, I believe it is important to apply what you learn to outside the school environment. Otherwise it is impossible to remember and eventually forgotten. Without this truth, most of what we learn in school is a waste of time. Why learn it if you cannot remember it? The sixth truth is definitely demonstrated in our education 222 class. This truth encourages us to “entice kids to love challenges”. We need to give students a reason to want to master the challenge. In our class now with the reading reactions, there are finalists and there is competition that is enticing because of the honor and points received in the class. There is also a theme to make the reactions more fun and interesting. Because there is a theme and a competition, this type of assignment resembles a video game and you want to play and be apart of it.

Gee’s seventh truth explains that students need to be motivated in order to learn. My question is how can we motivate them? School is often looked at as boring and homework is unappealing. What is the reward here and what type of motivation is Gee explaining? How is motivation achieved? Does there have to be an end goal or points earned in order to be motivated? The eighth point encourages us to “teach problem solving”. Gee suggests mixing facts and formulas through problem solving. This way the students remember the facts and formulas because they had to use them in specific problems in order to solve them. I definitely like this truth. I think that specific problems or situations involving facts are a lot easier to memorize the facts and at the same time learn how to solve the problem too.

The ninth truth can be applied to schools, but definitely not the workplace or a lot of areas beyond the classroom, in my opinion. This truth is to “encourage risk taking”. Although i agree that it is important to take risks, Gee explains that students should realize that the cost of taking risks is low in order for them to be motivated to take risks. In the classroom i think this is a good idea, however beyond the classroom environment i do not think this is realistic and taking risks often do have high costs. The tenth truth and the last truth is to “provide a valid learning model for schools”. This truth involves all of the truths. The learning model requires all of the nine truths that Gee has explained during the conference. By using these truths in-conjunction with one another, a school environment becomes a place where students are motivated to learn.

I definitely enjoyed reading this article and there are many truths I agree and disagree with. Many of the truths need examples which is ironic that more examples were not listed, as that is one of Gee’s truths to learn from example. 🙂

Here is a link to the article: