Bill MacKenty

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9 Paradoxes of learning through video games & simulation

Posted in Games in education on 18 - March 2006 at 05:07 PM (about 18 years ago). 188 views.

The Serious Games mailing list recently received a wonderful note from Clark Aldrich (blog).

Mr. Aldrich has written some books on the topic of games of learning (which I haven’t read yet). Simulations and the Future of Learning : An Innovative (and Perhaps Revolutionary) Approach to e-Learning and Learning by Doing : A Comprehensive Guide to Simulations, Computer Games, and Pedagogy in e-Learning and Other Educational Experiences”.

The First Paradox is that people learn more from the underlying systems and
interface in any educational experience than from the surface content.

The Second Paradox is that educational simulations can never be completely
comprehensive and accurate.

The Third Paradox is that one can’t even begin to understand a sim by watching someone else play it; one has to play it him or her self.  One can’t even begin to evaluate a sim by playing it; one has to measure the results of someone else playing it.

The Fourth Paradox is that things that seem simple, narrow, and isolated when “taught” through traditional linear means are deep, complex, and extendable when practiced in simulations.

The Fifth Paradox is that when educational simulations are first created, they are heavy on simulation elements, and casual players complain they are too hard. Over iterations, as a result of the complaints, educational simulations are made easier and more fun, and serious players then complain they are not
deep enough.

The Sixth Paradox is that vendors and builders of simulations like to describe them as vaguely and mystically as possible:

The Seventh Paradox Most deployments of simulation based programs look successful if measured forward from what a student learned, but most simulation deployments look like failures if measured backwards from what percentage of material that the students could have learned, they did learn.

The Eighth Paradox, is that things get worse before they get better, even when the transformation is sought after and desired.

The Ninth Paradox of Educational Simulations states that a good educational simulation takes traditional linear training just to use.