Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Virtual Games and Learning

Okay, so my oldest daughter and I go shopping today and we end up at Toys R Us. She wants a new video game for her PS2. My oldest daughter is seven by the way. We are looking over the selections and while I am opting for something like “Open Season”, “Over the Hedge”, or “Barnyard”, she is looking at more girly games. Imagine that! She finally decides on “Brats”. Poor daddy!

We get home and she starts playing the game and it has all types of great interaction for someone her age. Of course, I didn’t know this because I was avoiding the game due to its venue. Then I got the usual cry that she need my help to complete a level, so I reluctantly went and helped. I was praying that I wouldn't have to paint virtual finger nails. All of this from a guy that was wearing makeup and a dress in a womanless beauty pagent last week (It was a school fundraiser). Luckily, I just had to give a virtual dog a treat to get the game moving.

Anyway, before I could leave, my daughter started telling me about all of the great virtual features. I was about to excuse myself from the room when she pulled up a cell phone menu. I was impressed. Built into the game was a graphical interface that looks almost identical to the menu on my Motorola Razor. Amazingly, some of the functions were almost identical. Next week she will not only want a cell phone, but she will also know how to use it.

I stayed around a little longer admiring the various virtual functions of the game. There were problem solving activities, socializing activities, and more. Yes, they were all very girl oriented activities. Not that anything is wrong with these activities, there just not for me. I think I’ll go crank my chainsaw to make myself feel better. What’s a daddy to do?

Ultimately, the game made me think of all of the possibilities that virtual games can provide for children, specifically k12 students. Moreover, why aren’t we using more virtual games to teach our students at the k12 setting? Imagine creating virtual games that hinge around education content. We could take educational content and apply it as a theme and use character-focused avatars to progress through an interactive storyline that actually teachers specific content or across the curriculum content. This would be Classroom 2.0 at its best. Dora may actually have some real competition waiting just around the corner. Maybe, Byron Reeves, a professor at Stanford University and a proponent of game-based learning in the corporate sector is on to something when he says,
“Competition is fun and familiar, trial and error is a learning strategy and risk is understood as being necessary for success. The expectations that are being developed in games are the same ones that this generation will bring to work,”

We will just have to wait and see!


William Bishop (Bill)

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Blogger Chris Craft said...

Simply put, we aren't using virtual games (and I would question the verbiage) because they don't show any benefit.

Research shows over and over again that most games don't do much of a better job at helping students learn than anything else. A possible exception is River City by Harvard, but even the studies there are really questionable.

Mark Wagner is big into this topic,


6:52 AM  
Blogger WBishop said...

Thanks for the heads up Chris. I am actually doing some research on VR right now. Not necessarily games per se, but VR across the board. I know that the military has invested millions if not billions in VR starting back in the 1960's with its first Head Mounted Display. Also, "In 1998, the DOD expected to spend more than $2.5 billion on programs for modeling and simulation (U.S. Department of Defense, 1997).

Of course, I'm not sure were to draw the line between calling something a simulation versus a game. And now we have all of these Virtual Worlds cropping up as well. We will just have to wait and see what comes about in the future as far as Virtual Games and learning goes. I will look into Wagner's research when I have a chance. Once again, thanks for the comment and the tips.

PS. Love the new name of your site. Crucial Thought. What a great name!

Hasta luego mi amigo,

William Bishop (Bill)

11:12 PM  

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