Bill MacKenty

  Home     Computing     Teaching     Bushcraft     Games     Writing     About  

Hold the bar higher

Posted in Games in education on 11 - February 2006 at 05:33 AM (18 years ago). 196 views.

Our standard must be higher

Using games in education requires a higher standard of educational efficacy than other, more traditional forms of instruction.

Because it’s a game
Because games are thought of as strictly recreational tools. 
Because many people think “students spend to much time in front of games”.  Because we can’t stick a student in front of a game and expect miracles.
Because games are not thought of as educational.
Because public education is the last industry in the United States to still be debating the efficacy of technology as a whole.

Are we using civilization 3 to teach the relationship between science and civilization prosperity? Prove the understanding with authenitic, accesable assessment. Demonstrate the learning. 

We are teaching students to

think about the game

. To develop those higher order thinking skills. To evaluate and analyze subtle and complex interrelationships.  We need to be able to point at the game and say “See? It’s working!” 

The burden of proof is on us, and we must deliver.

Assess, assess, assess

Simple understandings are simply measured.  Complex understandings are not.

How do we know a student knows?  Are there different levels of knowing something?  Surely simple memorization is different than analyzing, evaluating and synthesizing.  Computer games (and technology in general) confers a deeper lever of knoweldge than simple drill and recall learning activities.  Therefore, we must use correct assessment tools. 

Portfolio assessment, ipsative assessment, authentic assessment, and standardized assessment all offer meaningful ways to measure student understandings. Computer games (and technology in general) impart sophisticated levels of knowledge.  Playing Sim City allows players to test and simulate urban, suburban, exurban, and rural city designs.  Does a true/false test measure this understanding? Does multiple choice measure this understanding?  The answer is yes, it does, but it isn’t optimal.  A better assessment tool might be an oral report, or perhaps a movie of successful city growth vs unsuccessful growth with an analysis of what factors contributed to the success and failure.

We have an old saying in the educational field, fetch and wretch (as opposed to the much older drill and kill).  We send students to an internet site with 15 questions on a piece of paper, and they throw up the answers on the paper.  We then enthusiastically wave the paper in front of our bulding principal and prove our children are learning. Um, no.

Finally, assessment should be connected to the content classroom.  If a student is using computer games to strengthen understanding around persuasive writing, the student should recieve credit in their English language arts class.