Online Blogucation

Who’s Got Game?

I’m usually pretty excited to get my hands on each year’s NMC Horizon Report. I love to see what people think may be the next big, new thing. In fact, if you ask my teammates, I’m sure they’d tell you that I’m the “new adopter” in the group; always willing to jump in and try things out, even those things might yet be half baked. In fact, I’m probably the ‘Mikey’ (remember Life cereal?) of the group. So when I downloaded my copy of the 2012 Higher Edition version of the report, I quickly turned to the contents page to see what the future of education holds. And, honestly, I wasn’t surprised. It seems that the list of things to change culture and education has stabilized. Nothing is quite brand-spakin’ new. Right now, the neonates on the scene are just growing. For instance, we’ve all seen and critiqued the iPad by now and the ‘new’ iPad is a simply the next version of a known quantity.

As I thought about this, I realized that what I really want to know is not what might be next in education, I want to know what new is being done now.

Let’s take one of this year’s emerging technologies that’s made a strong presence on the 2-to-3-year-out list for the last two years running: game-based learning. Many articles and blogs and research papers have been written over the last couple (ok, ten) years, including an interesting blog post by Justin Marquis on the merits of game-based learning in higher education. In the post, Justin summarizes and analyzes a TED talk by Jane McGonical where she asserts four ways gaming can help solve our world problems taking queues from World of Warcraft gamers. (Quick aside: Who are these World of Warcraft people anyway? I mean, who creates this world that is so engaging and thrilling that millions of hours are spent in it? Or, perhaps the better question is, what can we as educators learn from them?) Similarly, James Gee gives twelve ways games can teach. Ok, so we’ve heard a lot that game-based learning can be good teaching. But is it being done?

Yes, there are the ‘usual suspects’ (Evoke, Septris, 3D GameLab), but these all could fall into the ‘special cases’ or ‘special efforts ‘category. What I want to know is if game-based learning is making it into the regular flow of curriculum and course design. The Horizon report says “The average age of the American gamer is now 35-years-old” which means two things: 1) I’m older than I thought and 2) at 35 there have got to be a lot of gamers out there in education. I have to believe that at least some of the instructional designers and faculty working today fall into the range of 35 +/- 8 years or so.

Have you or a colleague played around (yes, pun intended) with applying game theory or any gaming elements to your course, curriculum, assessment or even program? What did you try? What was the response? Will game-based learning be a generational movement in education? Is there resistance to game-based learning at your institution? Why? Lack of time? Not convinced there are benefits? Join the conversation our our Pearson eCollege Academic Training & Consulting team Facebook page.

Luke Cable | Academic Trainer & Consultant

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