Digital Game Based Learning Response

Throughout the article, Richard Van Eck made good points about the benefits of using games as educational tools, and did well with describing exactly how and when games would be good for this purpose. I do think that students can benefit from the right type of game when used in an intended and appropriate context. Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences Theory suggests that there are many different learning styles. I agree and with that, I believe that learning through gaming does work quite well with some of those styles. Despite this, I do not believe that all or even a majority of students would show an increase in learning through gaming and it would adversely affect those students who have different learning styles to create a curriculum around a game. Gaming should be incorporated into the curriculum but it should be balanced with other approaches to maximize the learning of all students.

My final thought: This article discusses schema and how prior knowledge can be used to aid in current thought process. This can also help explain why younger generations find it easier to learn new technology quicker, as they can draw on their schema from other technology. ~Melissa :)

I liked the point Richard Van Eck makes about using technology and integrating technology. He said, “Using media requires only that the media be present during instruction. Integrating media requires a careful analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of the media, as well as its alignment with instructional strategies, methods, and learning outcomes.” With everything we plan for our students, matching the appropriate technology for an intended learning experience is important. It takes careful consideration when integrating technology because it also takes time and we have to justify our decisions. I’m interested exploring games for younger students that I could align with the standards. Marian

Richard Van Eck article from Educause: “ DGBL:It’s not just the digital natives who are restless…”

I found the new vocabulary in this article to be interesting: DGBL; COTS; Papert’s definition of “Shavian reversals”, “cognitive disequilibrium”, and the research. I agree that there needs to be more “serious” games that do align with the curriculum, and support learning. I liked VanEck’s ideas on how to fill in those holes to support new exploration without disturbing the “flow”.

I have heard for a long time, from my sons & students, that digital gaming has academic value, but have really struggled with the content. I have been a skeptic as most games I see kids want to play are of the arcade, repetitive entertainment, twitch side. Although, I do allow gaming one day a week after school (the lab is full with a ratio of 25 boys to 3 girls), I have noticed that I can steer them away from the “shoot’em zappem’ die” games toward some that I do see value in, and they find engaging and challenging as well. These are free online COTS DGBL: PHUN, Pivot Stick Figure, Rice Game, Stock Market Game, Runescape, and many more. The very most popular club I have had was “GameMaker” which ran for six weeks and I had no clue how to use the program or how to teach it. An 8th grade boy was the teacher and responsible for the lesson plans, and I was there to support him. The teacher role was very new and it was a wonderful collaboration of both of our talents. Many of these kids are still writing games, find instant gratification when others want to play them or learn how to program, some and have moved on to a few learning Alice.
~Bradlee Westie

The twenty first century student and immigrant are “restless” for the integration of gaming into the classroom known as DGBL. According to Eck, the gaming classroom promotes learning across disciplines which are embedded throughout the duration of games. Students pace their own learning, stay engaged, and achieve success in some form. Implementation has caused some discussion. As a result, three approaches have developed as to who should create the games- the students, the professionals or COTS, commercial off-the-shelf games. Of the choices, the COTS approach may offer the best student outcomes with teachers providing instructional, supplemental materials, and alignment with curriculum.

In the classroom, DGBL seems to offer many potential educational benefits to the digital native. For the teacher, improved student performance is always a valued outcome. Some impediments to the digital gaming classroom would include shifting the paradigm to support the idea of gaming, school policy, access to technology, alignment to the standards, and training the teachers in the appropriate technology. The most interesting aspect of educational gaming is the inherent concept of competition. Don’t games have winners and losers? Is there a clock? If so, is the game driven by winning or learning?
-Geoff Murray

A couple of pages into this article I had to check myself. Despite being a youthful 33 year-old, the fact that I’m not naturally inclined to explore technology or “play” games leads me to approach their possible educational application with skepticism. A couple of key points in the article, however, really sparked my interest and led me to reflect on what engages me and situations in which I have seen my students highly engaged, as well as to consider the positive aspects of games and why students react so positively toward them.

First, the notion that games are, by their very nature, a cycle of disequilibrium and resolution, referred to as engagement in the article, was a real “aha” moment for me. Basically, games create a situation that is challenging enough to stimulate learning and retain players, and yet not so difficult as to discourage players – exactly the type of environment that teachers aim to create. Two important differences between teachers and games, however, are that games are inherently differentiated and let you “play again” (with no penalty) if you don’t get it the first time. Even the very best teachers are not always able to effectively differentiate and most of us have to eventually put our students’ grades in black-and-white, however much we wish to allow them to “play again.” Second, the article’s discussion about “aligning the game with the content” led me to think about the many ways in which students become engaged in content. Specifically, I wondered how content gaps or factual errors in games really differed from those same problems in historical fiction, historical films (of the Hollywood genre) and even some historical sites. As the article mentioned, these errors and omissions can create teachable moments and could even serve as the segue from a unit opener to the rest of the unit.
-Kari Hoose, DGBL article

Integrating Games into the curriculum: An opportunity not to be lost!
Mike Campbell

This article took a comprehensive look at what it would take to implement gaming into the curriculum. What struck me as interesting was the idea that enough people have now come to understand the potential but that it is now time to take this integration to the next level. We have a unique educational opportunity to embrace this potential. In the late 40’s and early 50’s educators were given the chance to use a new technology to promote learning and academia largely ignored the chance. It was felt that this was a fad and beneath their level. Today the tenor of the conversation is that this same technology is sorely lacking in many educational merits. I speak of television. What a different experience television would be today if educators had the vision to see how to manipulate the medium for learning. Would that have “sucked the fun out of it,” as Prensky writes about? Maybe and maybe not since we don’t know what impact this could have had on it’s ultimate development. My point is that we are again at a crossroads of opportunity and should we look away at an already proven media that motivates youth when so much educational angst swirls around ‘motivation.’ Is gaming in the curriculum the answer? I would say no more than any other technology as these are but tools. Has social gaming already developed to such a level, that like TV, it now has been captured by the profit model where the concept that the more outrageous the game is the better it sells? I don’t know that either but I do know that if we educationally walk away from it because of these stigma’s we will potentially look back and bemoan the possibilities lost like in the television model.

Why do games even grab the attention of our youth? First they are instant gratification. Second, growth is measured in levels that are understandable and the rewards tangible. Third, and perhaps most educationally important is that failure is the key to learning. In a game you only proceed by trying to figure out the problem, develop the strategy and skill to address it, and implement this over and over until you succeed. Doesn’t that encompass critical thinking and the essence of learning? You only learn when you first fail. If you don’t fail then you already knew that and so it is great that you showed me that but you haven’t really learned until you push through failure. In conclusion, keep an open mind to the potential that integrating games provides and don’t simply dismiss it because the profit model currently controls it.

Looking back in my high school days at my time playing one of the most highly regarded COTS game, SimCity, I never thought seriously about how accurate the engineering and social aspects of the game were. In the game, one starts as the mayor of a new city in 1950, and beginning with just a power plant, create a city that people will want to live in. Eventually, in 2000, the coal plants need to be replaced, and your choice of using solar, wind, coal, nuclear, or natural gas will determine your popularity in your constituent’s eyes. Hospitals, roads, schools, and police stations are all funded as much or as little as you deem necessary, each with its own consequences. It truly was a game that tested your morals, and you also learned a little about politics and building zones. It is a game that certainly would interest any student in middle and high school, and its little brother The Sims, focuses on the interpersonal relationships and can get young men and women to understand the concepts of building a family and earning a living. These games do have a place in schools, and in the right context, can be quite powerful, taking the place of carrying an egg or bag of flour to simulate having a baby in health classes.
- Marcel Girouard

Van Eck Article reflection – David Rider

Summary: Interest in digital game-based learning has increased due to increased research on the topic, the increase of digital natives in classrooms, and the increased popularity of games and the stigma of them as simply “play” has been overcome. The author explains why DGBL is effective and engaging (they stimulate cognition, they are highly social, and they are powerful teaching tools when they create a continuous cycle of cognitive disequilibrium and resolution. The author suggests that commercial off-the-shelf games can be the most beneficial approach to using them, as long as teachers carefully align them with curriculum in a meaningful way, especially in terms of being purposeful in deciding whether to use them as pre-instructional, co-instructional, or post-instructional teaching strategies.

Connection to teaching: The connections between the article and Institute content lays primarily in understanding games as a logical teaching strategy for millennial students. These digital natives are pragmatic, problem-solving, social thinkers who can respond to games as legitimate learning tools. I have utilized non-digital but game theory based activities with my own classes. I use J. Tobin Grant’s Playing Politics, which helps students understand the logic behind political decision-making, from creating a constitution to formulating foreign policy
-D Rider

I have been teaching for seventeen years after having two other careers for the ten years after I graduated from college. I find myself to be a very reflective educator who is always interested in changing and improving what I do for the sole purpose of meeting the needs of my students. For years I have been integrating technology via graphing calculators, Smartboards, and most recently, Turning Point to bring more interest and excitement to my classes. I gladly use these tools, but I always realize that they are just that; tools. Tools help us build things, but only once we know what to do with them and how they work.

However motivated the DGBL community is to bring games into the classroom, they have to realize that they are a very weak substitute for a enthusiastic, motivated, connected teacher. We need to spend less time pouring money into developing games that teach, and more into ones that reinforce what is learned in class. The author knows of the shortcomings of DGBL as a teaching tool and I found my head spinning by the end at the obviousness of the situation: train teachers to have better motivating personalities and more engaging. Educational institutions need to change the paradigm that is used to hire and retain teachers. The effort should be made to meet the student needs through better pedagogy, not better games.

David Rome June 24, 2009

Bridget Hackett- June 24, 2009

After reading the article Digital Game-Based Learning: It’s Not Just the Digital Natives Who are Restless.. by Richard Van Eck, I was intrigued to find out more about COTS available to me at my school. COTS or commercial off the shelf games, were not necessarily meant to be teaching tools, but some of them sound like they would work well in the classroom. Roller Coaster Tycoon sounds like a great game where kids can build different sizes and kinds of roller coasters. The user is also responsible for running the park like a business. This sounds like a great game for all of the future engineers in my class. I can see my students who love to build with Legos gravitating towards a game like this. Games like these will help create the scaffolding for the future careers of young learners. Kids that like flying games might become pilots or kids that like to create cyber houses and neighborhoods could become city planners or interior designers. The possibilities are really endless. As designers work to make more connections between games and the curriculum, I am excited to give them a try in the classroom.

I couldn’t stop thinking about “Oregon Trail” and “Where in the World is Carmen Santiago?” These two (old school) COTS games that I played in the computer lab in elementary and middle school were to supplement our geography and social studies classes. I loved them so much, that I got both of those games as presents at some point so that I could continue playing with them at home. Besides bringing up some fond academic memories for me, this article brought up several key points about the importance of considering DGBL in the classroom. The one thing that stood out for me was the section on how different types of games work; how the taxonomy of games and learning correlate. It made me reflect upon the games that I use in my own classroom. I tend to rely on the drill-and-practice, jeopardy type games. I wonder what kind of COTS DGBL I could use in the Spanish classroom?
-Meredith Visco

My interest was sparked by two points made by Van Eck in the latter part of the article. The concept of "flow" and how not to interupt it in designing a lesson with DGBL seemed unresolved to me. Also, the failures of technologies past was interesting. Whether media, computing or DGBL, all "new" technologies need to be integrated. Integration is the key to success and moving forward.
Cliff Timpson

Keith Carlton
24 June 2009
DGBL Reflection
Integration Versus Use
Considering the amount of information Richard Van Eck shares in “Digital Game-Based Learning: It’s Not Just the Digital Natives,” writing a one to two paragraph reflection, at first glance, remarkably difficult. At times the article seems to drag on and it is difficult to maintain focus. On page 115, however, Van Eck points out “the difference between use and integration.” This observation is the most important aspect of the article and encapsulates one of the major issues integrating new technologies into the classroom.
As Van Eck points out, “Using media requires only that the media be present during instruction. Integrating media, on the other had, requires a careful analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of the media, as well as its alignment with instructional strategies, methods, and learning outcomes.” This distinction is often overlooked. Too often teachers, myself included, believe we are integrating technology when we are merely using it. Similarly, many educators are overzealous in touting the capabilities of new technologies and jump without considering the impact or usefulness thoroughly. Conversely, there are educators who immediately dismiss new technologies without considering how useful and effective they can be. None of these viewpoints will enhance the learning environment of our students. Ultimately, the goal this week is to gain exposure to new technologies, which, after careful consideration of their strengths, weaknesses, and alignment with instructional strategies, methods, and learning outcomes, I may strive to integrate into the classroom.

I found th section concerning "the flow" of the game to be very interesting. Flow, in the context of a game would mean that the players are so engaged in the world of the game that they lose track of time and the outside world. Good games promote this flow because they are fun, engaging, relevant and challenging. When players are in the flow all of the good things about learning can occurr. Thinking, problem solving, fun, creating are no longer tasks, they are like rewards for mastering whatever the content is. The suggestion is that once a game begins- anything that distracts or removes a player from this flow- discourages, slows down or disrupts the flow for the player thus causing the learning to decrease as well.
Preparation time must be invested before a game is incorporated into the classroom so that this flow is interrupted as infrequently as possible. Keeping the students in this flow even when games are not being played would be a challenge, but I think it would be fun to try to develop all of the ancillary materials both alone and with the class.

Sara F. Howard - Wednesday, June 24, 2009
In Richard Van Eck’s article entitled Digital Game-Based Learning: It’s Not Just the Digital Natives Who are Restless… he discusses the power of using digital games-based learning. This initially remembered me of one of my first experiences with Apple II computers (you remind the old huge floppy disk) of Where in the World Carmen Sandiego computer game; this is where I basically learned capitals around the world. This corny game made me understand geography in a fun format. Similar to the Civilization and Age of Empires II games mentioned in the article, these games teach historical concepts, strategically thinking, and collaboration. After listening to John Rogate’s presentation on Second Life yesterday, it makes me wonder if the gaming has now gone to the next revolutionize step. Will I be taking my students to the Gettysburg battlefields in Second Life? Perhaps.

My interest was sparked toward the end of the article when Van Eck discussed the integration of this new technology. He makes some reference to the placing of computers in classrooms during the 1980’s, and following to see if students with computers surpassed those who did not have them in class. The result showed no real difference. Did we learn that a new piece of technology cannot just be placed in the classroom? Proper training on it or with it has to be invested. This technology cannot be integrated properly without proper training to faculty. The teacher willing to incorporate gaming into their curriculum would have to be well trained in which ever game or games were chosen. I think it would be fabulous to have teacher in-service days spent allowing the faculty to experience and play such games. This would be a necessary part, and I think also a hard sell to the administration and school board.
- Lisa Cacciatore

I have never been one who is all that interested in video games of any kind, so I can’t say that the topic of this article excited me all that much. But I do have to admit, the farther I got into the article, the more interesting I found it. The part that sparked my interest was the concept of flow and the importance of working within that concept when considering the use of a DGBL in a classroom. It was interesting to think about creating activities for the students that would be authentic extensions of the goals of the game to minimize the disruption of flow. I can understand more clearly how DGBLs could in fact be quite powerful learning tools in our classrooms.
Wendy Purvee

Joyce Kemp
June 24, 2009
A couple of things sparked my interest when reading the article, Digital Game-Based Learning: It’s Not Just the Digital Natives Who are Restless, by Richard Van Eck. There is no question that games are extremely popular among our students. Although I am not a gamer myself, I can see the relevance of the problem solving, quick-thinking, and learning directly involved with the environment the player is in. The “constant cycle of hypothesis formulation, testing, and revision” (p. 5) is as necessary in the real world as it is in gaming environments.
My thoughts throughout the article, were that yes, gaming can be another tool for educators to use in the classroom. But if educators/schools can’t afford the time and /or training for students or teachers to create their own games, or the COTS (commercial off-the-shelf games), why not use the strategies involved in the gaming environment and present problems in learning scenarios. It may not be as exciting for students, but they can still use their gaming skills to solve the problems given to them. If, however, schools can afford either game development or COTS, wouldn’t it be awesome to have students engaged in learning from these games?

Paul DiFalco
DGBL Article

The thing that struck me the most in this article was the fact that it seems almost impossible to actually implement a DGBL setup in a school. The amount of money that would be needed to properly equip a classroom, train IT people, train teachers, etc. seems to be out of reach for most schools.

The other issue was the whole issue of flow and not letting it be disrupted. In a classroom setting I think this is impossible, especially if the game is not complete in the area of content. Again I come back to teachers being redefined as facilitators in the learning process and that scares me.

Mike Turk
Champlain College Summer Institute
Response to Reading on Digital Game Based Learning

I thought that the article was quite interesting and informative. I thought that the break down of the three ways of using games in education was a unique way of looking at it.
1. Students can create games that are educational and simply the act of doing this would be an educational experience.
2. Educators can work with other professionals to create games that are educational and meaningful.
3. Educators can utilize existing, commercial, “off the shelf games” and adapt them to specific uses.

Although there are good and bad aspects for each of these choices, it sounded to me like the last choice would be the easiest for me to implement right away. As a music teacher, I had already been considering games like Guitar Hero, Rock Band, DDR (Dance, Dance Revolution) and Karaoke Revolution.
Since I am a believer that there is always a trade off when using technology, meaning that you gain something and you lose something, I was wondering how I might assess how the use of these games would inform that trade off.

Richard Van Eck’s article s well balanced with justification for DGBL, history of attempts to implement in the past, and instructions on how to make it work in schools today. The idea of using games to teach is not new, but its implementation has not been great. Van Eck is very good at making the case for the need for this type of activity n education. His discussion of context and environment in effective learning is exactly what a good teacher does, they set the stage for learning by making it relevant and personal. His depth vs breadth discussion addresses the constant struggle with any content decision made in teaching. His comment on proper teacher training is much appreciated.
Having just researched the Wii and its use in education, I was surprised to see no mention of it in the article. It only shows that an article on technology written in 2006 is already not in tune with the latest in technology.

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