Sneak Peeks

If you are looking for some teasers for the book, you've come to the right place!
Here is where I will post comments, explanations, and images for the book at it is developed.

Please note that all materials here are © 2015 Mink Hollow Media & Springer Publishing with All Rights Reserved

If you have any questions, or special requests, please feel free to ask.

—- watch this space for more —–

There are many ways to use games in the classroom. Games can be used as:

  1. Content - The content of the game directly addresses some curricular need.
  2. Example - In this case the game is being used as an example of or an artifact that supports what is being taught.
  3. Inspiration - Games can be used as inspiration for creative writing, for construction, as examples of scenarios, or as role models.
  4. Art - Some games have a unique artistic style that is worth studying.
  5. Medium - This is the constructionist approach to learning by making a game about the topic or concept being taught.
  6. Literature - Games can offer unique perspectives on narrative and some can be studied as literature.
  7. Environment - Sometimes a game can provide an environment for some activity or part of a lesson, even if it does not address the curricular needs directly.

I'm almost done with the final draft of my book and it includes a number of lists:

  • 20 Learning Theories Embodied in Games
  • 15 Instructional Theories Embodied in Games
  • 12 Instructional Design Models For Using Games in the Classroom
  • 15 Ways to Use Games in the Classroom
  • 101 Instructional Strategies for Use with Games

The book provides much more detail than the list above, but I will be offering sneak peeks of some of these lists over the next few months. Of course you'll have to wait for the book to get all of them.


2015/07/04 16:54 · becker

Becker’s Lazy Test is something I developed some years ago as part of the 4PEG game assessment template (4PEG = 4 Pillars of Educational Games). When I am examining a game, I play it and see how far I can get without reading or learning anything. I simply follow the known mechanics (if obvious) or click randomly. If I can get to the end this way, it does NOT pass as an educational game. The easier it is to progress in the game using this strategy, the worse the educational value of the game.

Put very simply, it should not be possible to get through an educational game by brute force or by random chance alone. Now, I know that this may seem very similar to Margaret Gredler’s claims about games vs simulations made in her chapter on simulations and games in the 1996 AECT Handbook of Educational Technology. In it she said that games should not have a random factor. Now, if you’ve read my book, The Guide to Computer Simulations and Games – especially the chapter on randomness – you will already know how important the “random factor” is to BOTH simulations AND games. Gredler used randomness as a way to distinguish simulations from games (which is misguided), but she also used this as a way to separate games she liked from those she found frivolous. Part of what Becker’s Lazy Test is looking for is whether or not random actions on MY part (as a player) can get me through the game. Every game can, should, and MUST have at least some randomness, or else it is nothing more than a branching story.

These are the questions that go along with the Becker Lazy Test. A ‘yes’ answer to any of these constitutes a pass, and a pass is a bad thing.

  1. Is it possible to get through the game by randomly clicking on things? In other words, could I win the game by simply memorizing which things to click without knowing what those things are?
  2. Are the educational objectives included among the required learning in the game? Can I learn the game without learning the educational part?
  3. Is it possible to get through the game while ignoring the learning objectives? The required learning in the game should be PART of the game and not only found in pop-up screens of text or told to me through dialog.

The BLT asks if a ‘lazy player’ can get through the game without learning anything, and it is one element of the Four Pillars of Educational Gaming, listed as part of the Educational Content pillar. Becker’s Lazy Test focuses on how well the learning objectives are integrated into the game by determining whether it is possible to get through the game without paying attention to the learning goals of the game. If it IS, then the game passes the test, which in turn means that the learning objectives are NOT well integrated into the gameplay.


2015/06/24 15:45 · becker

This book will have an extensive set of supplementary materials, from summaries of the theories and models discussed in the book, to templates of lesson plans and teacher guides. It will also include a list of 100 or so instructional strategies that have either been designed specifically for game based learning lessons, or that have been adapted to work with games.

Here's a sneak peak at just a few of them:

A reading strategy consisting of: Title, Relationships, Intent of questions, and Put in perspective, that can be applied to game based learning. It will not always be possible to ‘peruse’ a game level in the same way that readers can peruse a chapter, but it is often possible to have a look around and this strategy will help players do this in a targeted, organized fashion that will help them connect the learning objectives with their gameplay.

Poems written by students about any specific person or object (character or object in a game). To summarize student knowledge of topic. It is normally a short prose that includes information about the object or character.
(Line 1) First name
(Line 2) Three or four adjectives that describe the person
(Line 3) Important relationship (daughter of . . . , mother of . . . , etc)
(Line 4) Two or three things, people, or ideas that the person loved
(Line 5) Three feelings the person experienced
(Line 6) Three fears the person experienced
(Line 7) Accomplishments (who composed . . . , who discovered . . . , etc.)
(Line 8) Two or three things the person wanted to see happen or wanted to experience
(Line 9) His or her residence
(Line 10) Last name

Normally, this strategy involves showing sets of examples that demonstrate a single rule (like “i before e except after c.”) and asking the students to stat the rule. In the DGBL version it can be used to uncover various aspects of the gameplay itself. Perhaps a challenge appears every time the player reaches a particular point or achieves a particular outcome. This strategy can be used to make players aware of the rule systems that are built in to the game. Depending on the game, these could overlap with real-world rules.

This is an adaptation of the “Letters from Last Year’s Class” idea. In the original version students write letters at the end of the year for future students. In our variation students will write letters to the next group of players of a particular game. Normally these letters include tips, but in this case it is important to avoid actual spoilers. Other than that, these letters can include highlights from the students’ experiences in the game, new concepts they have learned, pitfalls to avoid. The letters are meant to be shared with the next group of players before they begin to play. These letters can also be used to build or augment existing teacher guides.

A variation on the teaching strategy of shared reading. This is a strategy that uses oversized picture books from which the teacher reads aloud to a group of children. In shared playing the teacher uses a large monitor or data projector to project the game for the entire class and the whole class plays as one.

The book will have about 100 of these instructional strategies helping to make this book a truly practical volume for practitioners and teacher programs alike, so be sure to check them out.


2015/06/07 23:41 · becker

Digital game-based learning (DGBL) is often defined as including everything that has to do with teaching and learning using games, but the use of games for learning should really be viewed from at least two positions. One is the perspective of the learner, which considers how people learn from games, and the other is the perspective of the teacher, which looks at how we can teach with games. In this book we define digital game-based learning as referring to the first perspective, while the second is called digital game pedagogy(DGP). Like the philosophical Yin-Yang concept, game-based learning and pedagogy are inter-related and complementary, but at the same time the theoretical underpinnings are different: one (DGBL) grows out of learning theories while the other (DGP) is influenced by instructional design theories. There is some overlap, but this book will examine both separately as far as is possible.


2015/05/18 13:45

This one is a list of learning theories that are relevant to game-based learning. In Chapter Two, each one is briefly described and it's connection to GBL is outlined.

This section will briefly explain each of the theories in the figure, and outline how it connects to DGBL. Let's first look at the major categories and how they differ. Behaviorism and humanism can in some sense be seen as representing opposite ends of a spectrum or as opposing sides of a coin. Behaviorist theories are primarily theories of external motivation that comes in the form of reward and punishment. By contrast, humanism is a paradigm of learning that centers on self-actualization and takes a more holistic approach.

In between we have cognitivism, which is based on attempts to understand how we learn rather than why and posits theories based on such things as how we process information and how we make meaning of our world. Included in this category are such concepts as schemata (mental models), and cognitive load theory. These concepts also play a role in DGBL.

Also between behaviorism and humanism are social learning and constructivism. Constructivism is described as the process by which the learner constructs knowledge and meaning through the interaction of their ideas and their experience. It is considered to be a more indirect approach than one that involves simply telling the learners what they need to know, and it is the approach favored in many descriptions of what's needed to develop 21-century learners. The kind of learning that occurs in most games (drill and quiz games excepted) is almost always constructive, at least in part. Social learning highlights the fundamental role that communities and other people play in the learning process. It could be argued that the social learning really encompasses aspects of both cognitivism and constructivism, only enacted in a social context.

If you want to read about how each of these learning theories relates to game-based learning, you'll have to buy the book. :-)


2015/05/18 13:45
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