What can you learn from games anyway?

I love video games, I love my Team Murder Mystery Game and I love the lessons that they can teach to kids. So what can we learn? Well obviously a game geared towards math can teach a kid math but that is not what this post is focusing on. What I want to focus on are the FIVE MAJOR skills that you can learn when playing video games such as League of Legends, World of Warcraft, and Minecraft (keep in mind that not all games do these things so you need to be selective):

  1. You will lose. You cannot always win and games teach you that you will lose. I believe this is great because in today’s watered down culture we give kids trophies for trying in addition to winning. Games do not work that way. You only get the prize if you win. This is an important lesson that needs to be fully understood by kids so they know that they need to work hard to win in life.
  2. Problem solving. You will learn to problem solve. You don’t like losing? Guess what, you need to keep playing and practicing to get better just like real life.
  3. Teamwork. This is a skill that kids learn in sports, it’s super important in things like escape the room west chester because you won’t manage to get out without teamwork. You cannot win a game by yourself. However, not all kids play sports. If a kid does not play sports I would definitely make sure they learn teamwork from a very young age and multiplayer games are a great way to accomplish this.
  4. Communication. You have to communicate with your team virtual in games. This is a great skill as many jobs are now virtual and you need to communicate with team mates, a boss, and clients in a virtual environment. You will learn how to greet, sign on/off, and online speak in general.
  5. Your imagination is the limit. Games like minecraft allow you to build and construct. Literally your imagination is the limit. This teaches kids to invent and create things that are not there. This thinking outside of the box is a skill that managers want and a skill that innovators like Bill Gates have. If you are passionate about gaming, this streaming setup will be a perfect guide for you.

Gaming in the classroom

I was recently interviewed on gaming in the classroom by WHQR radio. It was about a teacher implementing classcraft in their classroom. You can read the full interview here

Here is the transcript:

In a Wilmington classroom, students transform into some surprising characters—healers, mages, and warriors. WHQR’s Isabelle Shepherd reports that a virtual game is preparing fourth grade math students at Alderman Elementary School for the realworld.

Toth: “Alright, let’s take a seat real quick because we have a busy day.”

Students: “Yay! Yay! I like busy.”

Unlike digital games like Diablo ll for which one could easily get legit gems and weapons on www.yesgamers.com, Classcraft is a role-playing game, designed to be used as a classroom management tool. By working game mechanics into an educational setting, the virtual program has real world consequences and rewards for students.

Brian Toth, the math instructor at Alderman, recently implemented the game in his classroom.  He’s currently the only teacher using it at the school.  Toth becomes the Game Master in Classcraft.  When his students answer hard questions and do well on homework assignments, he can grant them experience points, which kids can use to cast spells.  These spells are rewards for the students, providing various perks, such as going to lunch early, using their notes on a test, or protecting their teammate from damage caused by bad behavior. Damage hits can lead to consequences like silent recess.

According to Toth, Classcraft takes up minimal time—about three minutes at the beginning of class and one or two minutes at the end when he totals up the students’ points.  The day’s lesson begins with a random event.  Toth says this engages the students immediately:

“They sit there, they cross their fingers, because some of the random events are positive, some of them are negative where people can lose health points or people can lose experience points. So, they never know; it’s just a random event.  They look forward to that at the beginning of the day. Right after that, they get to use their spells that they can get from leveling up. So they all raise their hands and I’ll go one by one, and they can use a spell, whatever spell they have. So they’re looking forward to that.”

Toth: “We are going to, uh, do our Classcraft stuff first. So we’re going to do our random event of the day. Alright, ready? 3, 2, 1… Human Shield: A random player takes all the damage for the class but gains 300 experience points.”

Students: “What? Yay! That’s a good one. That’s a good one.”

The random event does more than help focus students. It teaches them a life lesson. That’s according to Dr. Raymond Pastore, a UNCW professor who researches computer-based tools and gaming in education:

“Well, it teaches them that things aren’t always going to be equal, that there are random things that are going to happen. And that’s no different than real life. And that’s what happens when you’re playing a game. Sometimes things are going to happen that are out of your control, that are unlucky, and what it teaches you is, “How do I deal with this? How am I going to come back from this?”

Patrick Harrison, the technology assistant at Alderman, has a tattoo of an autobot from Transformers on his arm. He says he’s seen this life lesson about bouncing back play out in the classroom:

“There’s one student that is a perennial complainer that got silent recess as his random event.  It spun up, that’s what he got.  Even him, as a kid that will complain if you look at him funny, he just sat and was there for recess, and didn’t complain, didn’t get upset, just did it.  Later, he said, ‘That’s part of the game.  That’s how it works.’”

Individual rewards and consequences are just one component of Classcraft.  In order to succeed in the game, the whole team has to work together.  Instructional technology professor Pastore says Classcraft promotes cooperation, which is valuable in a corporate context:

“If you go into any corporate, large company, any Fortune 100 company and you ask them how important teamwork is, it’s going to be at the top of the list, way at the top of the list because playing politics, learning how to deal with people, learning how to pick up the slack for people is huge. Learning how to communicate with all kinds of people is a huge skill that, I don’t want to say it’s not taught, but it’s only taught through teamwork and experience.”

But students will inevitably move on to classes without Classcraft.  Will they still be motivated to succeed without the game?  Harrison says it’s like any other strategy teachers use; they just have to hope that some of the lessons stick:

“That’s your hope with anything that you’re teaching. Any teacher has got their methods and their ideas and their things that they’re going through, that they’re pushing. And all that we can do is hope that some of it will sink in.”

How a High School Teacher Is ‘Gamifying’ World News

This seems very cool:

“When I started teaching, the average ninth grader looked like a zombie in class,” Nelson toldMashable. “One night when I was lesson planning, I took a break and literally checked my Fantasy Football team and I had this realization that I was learning a lot about the NFL — things about football and the NFL I wouldn’t have otherwise learned.”

The next day Nelson proposed the idea to the class. At first, the idea was met with skepticism, mostly due to the students’ lack of familiarity with how Fantasy Football works. But after the students became familiar with the format of the game, they warmed up toFantasy Geopolitics — both as a game, and as a new way to learn.

“My students started asking to do more with [the game]. They wanted to make trades, form alliances and so I just started listening,” says Nelson. “Whatever they wanted to do to control their own learning experience, I did it. Now, they playfully trash talk about their countries and become fans of those countries, which spurs them to want to learn more. It’s almost like they are trash talking each other into learning more.”

“I’m ‘gamifying’ learning. I’m ‘gamifying’ news to get them over the hump and not see reading the news as some difficult task.”

As for the format of the game, Fantasy Geopolitics is simple. It starts with a draft session, during which students select a team of three countries (the U.S. and China are banned due to their domination of the news) and then the players track stories about those countries in the news.

Using the Times Developer Network API, provided by The New York Times’, Nelson created a website that tracks how many times a country is mentioned in the news, and students get one point for every mention.

Full Story Here

World of Classcraft

This is a really awesome website. The website guides you through gamifying your classroom. It shows you how to turn your classroom into a game, similar to dungeons and dragons, world of warcraft, etc. I think this is a very unique idea and I would love to see more classrooms implementing similar type strategies. While I do not expect a class to implement everything from this site, I believe there are a lot of good ideas and that taking one or two could really help students and make the classroom a fun place to learn.

http://worldofclasscraft.com/en/

Here is a video about it:

Gamification: What is it and how does it apply to instructional design?

A new buzz term has been making its way around the instruction design world: Gamification. Like all buzz words, the idea is not new, however, acknowledging that it is an instructional strategy is very useful, especially for someone like myself who has a strong interest in gaming.

So what is gamification?

Gamification is the act of applying gaming techniques, strategies, and principles into any type of training and/or process. For instance, putting an achievement system into an LMS to reward learners for taking courses and gaining certain scores on the assessment. Essentially its the idea of taking anything gaming and putting it into regular training. Thus we take the ‘part’ of games that make them fun while giving us a sense of accomplishment and put this into regular training which then increases learner motivation. Instead of developing an actual game, we take pieces of the game.

At this point, the literature on gaming is growing large but is not very experimental. Having said that, the idea of gamification can be measured via quantitative research and I would expect to see quite a bit in the next few years as we develop best practices based on gaming strategies.