Inspiring Student Learning and Creativity through Gaming. Global Forum Panel Discussion

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The hot topic panel at the Global Forum bought together 4 educators with significant experience in using games and gaming to enhance teaching and learning: Simon Breakspear, Doug Bergman, Kiril Rusev and Shafaque Riaz. The panel was moderated by Mark Sparvel. Discussions and questions all seemed to have a common element: Is gaming a time waster or critical learning tool? As gaming can undoubtedly be both teachers need to be skilful in their knowledge of how to incorporate gaming into their planning and pedagogy. Here there is a clear differentiation between playing games, creating games and gamification as a pedagogical tool. When teachers bring games into their classrooms as a tool for learning they need to ask the question; What is the purpose of the game? What additional capacity does it add to the learning environment? When we consider gamification we are implying that this involves an approach and outcomes beyond the game. The game is a vehicle for the delivery of another outcome Gamification brings the methodology of game design to teacher planning and learning experiences. Games create flow… keep people on the edge of their seats, Gamers have a desire to succeed, and meet the challenges presented to them. But on the other hand gamers embrace failure because it’s inevitable. Gamers accept that they will fail many times before they finally succeed. Failure is not seen as an endpoint where judgement are made and recorded, as occurs with much classroom assessment. In a game failure is a seen as learning experience, an inevitable occurrence if you are to finally succeed. The game does not count the number of failures or record them, it only records success! Games engage students in problem solving. Teachers need to know how to use games to engage students in enhanced learning. Both physical and cognitive development. Game environments have both challenge and curiosity, players can engage with the game at different levels of challenge. Curiosity is the intrinsic motivator to keep people engaged with the game. When you finish the game you may never play it again. Multiplayer games encourage collaboration to plan a strategy and meet the challenges presented by the game. Games such as World of Warcraft learn and adapt to player behaviour, this sees the game continually evolving to keep players engaged. A goal for all teachers. How can we use games in our own learning environment? Gamers take responsibility for their own learning. There is an inbuilt feedback loop. The aim of the game is mastery. These are admirable design principles for all lesson preparation.

A good game like a good lesson should: have a serious focus or address a serious topic, have educational value, be engaging, encourage collaboration and at times competition. We need to articulate what aspects of learning needs can be addressed by games. It is essential that we shift the focus to learning and away from edutainment. Call to action:

  1. Role of teacher is a facilitator of learning. Be part of the change how can we use games.
  2. Something energising about making a game. Challenge your self to make a game.
  3. Embrace change, students very different.. creating games a very useful skill
  4. Gaming isn’t the point it’s just one more means to an end. Make a list of learning challenges in your school to what extent can gaming be a solution to the problem.

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