Evidence: Video of Minecraft world created
- Plan learning opportunities most suitable to the strengths and challenges of a variety of mobile learning and gaming environments
- Develop skills to optimize learning experiences through personalization based on characteristics, needs, stages of development, current personalized learning mandates, and misconceptions
I was very much a newbie to the world of Minecraft before this assignment. I had heard of it, seen people dress up as characters from it, but never so much as looked at it. For this assignment we had to ‘play’ in the Minecraft world and determine how it could be used in the classroom. In order to figure out how to use it in the classroom, I had to play with it my self and evaluate it with the rubric that Jay, Corina & I built. After all, how can I evaluate a tool for use in the classroom if I could not use it myself?
What I discovered is that Minecraft is a very flexible, creative world that has tremendous applications in the classroom. As you can see on the video, I tested the world for use in Math and Biology. I am especially happy how my labelled ‘cell’ turned out. For visual learners, students who love gaming or creative people, the ability to create three dimensional structures to illustrate concepts (or for example calculate volumes and areas in math) really personalizes the learning experience. Students can work collaboratively or individually, this can be done in the classroom or from a distance. the key word is personalization.
Are there some challenges to having Minecraft assignments? Sure. I work with adults. Not all of them will be interested in this or could afford to buy the program. In the k-12 systems there are also challenges (though MinecraftEdu eliminate a bunch of them!). Overall Minecraft scored very high on the game evaluation rubric. While it is certainly a tool that I would use in the classroom I would likely make it an optional assignment or alternative way of presenting a project. Participating in this assignment really opened my eyes to what games can do in education
Live form: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/11O0gh5P5PdBQUrP8lrmtK6xaFA6XCPeF54jD2NuIo0I/viewform
Evaluated Game & Critical Questions documented: OltdGroupAssignment3JayLisaCorina – good
- Critically assess and evaluate resources for best practice in mobile learning and gaming environments
- Integration of current cognitive learning and educational gaming theory and examination of current research around best and emerging practices
- Critically assess and evaluate resources for best practice in online learning
For this project, Corina, Jay & I developed an evaluation form for educational games. This idea is educators could use this form to evaluate the a game that they wished to use in the classroom.
What can happen in the classroom (both face-to-face and online) is unfortunately, educators become excited about some new and shiny tool but don’t stop to critically assess the resource to see if it is appropriate for the learning environment. It is important to evaluate the resource. An easy way that this can be done is through a rubric. If the rubric is designed for a particular learning environment then the educator will be able to compare and assess different resources. As we stated in our overview “the elements we included in our evaluation rubric will ensure that any app we assess for use with students will meet their needs for learning, growth, differentiation, individualization, creativity, and authenticity, as well as safety and academic concerns”.
Our rubric was designed using current theories and emerging practices. One theorist that resonated especially was Jim Gee (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4aQAgAjTozk) and we used many of his principles in creating the rubric. The second was Futurelab’s RETAIN model and Four-Dimensional Framework (media.futurelab.org.uk/resources/documents/lit_reviews/Serious-Games_Review.pdf). The RETAIN and 4D framework provided the scaffold for us to create the rubric
OLTD 508 examines mobile learning and gaming. One video that was recommended that we watch was Jim Gee‘s (2013) “Principles on Gaming”. In this video he states 13 learning principles that good games incorporate to ‘hook’ you in to learning the game (and any content it contains). A longer list of the principles, with a description of each, can be found in this article from Phi Kappa Phi Forum: GoodVideoGamesLearning. Three of the principles particularly resonated with me.
The first is ‘sandboxes’ or safe risk taking. I teach science. One challenge of science labs is students must perform experiments in a particular way, in a set amount of time. There is no ‘play’. Students cannot experiment with the chemicals and equipment in the lab as much as they or I would like as this can be potentially very dangerous. There is usually very strict time limits as lab space is in-demand. Labs are designed to be completed in a given time leaving no room for play. In a game, if students fail they can try again, as many times as are needed or desired. This permits experimentation and risk taking (such as putting sodium in water – something very carefully control in real life). Many games, like Minecraft, have a sandbox mode, a safe place to play. While a space may feel dangerous (zombie attack!) it is safe.
Another aspect of good game design, that education would do well to emulate, is the way information and words are used. In a game information tends to be given ‘just in time’ (when it is needed, it is given) or ‘on-demand’ (when it is asked for. In schools, information tends to be given in large chunks. I know that I am guilty of that. Too many words overwhelm and students tend to ignore most of them (which frustrates the educator as we are left saying ‘the information is on the page, have you read it yet?’). Poor game design tends to either not give enough information (SimCityEDU: pollution challenge is one), even on-demand, or can overwhelm with information. As an educator, I experienced the former this week in evaluating games, it helped me to appreciate how students must feel when it happens in class. I kept thinking the information MUST be somewhere, but I couldn’t find it – definitely left me feeling frustrated.
This leads me to another aspect of good game design which looks at complexity. In a game, there are usually levels. You are not expected to learn about everything all at once. Initially a game starts off quite simply. Complexity & difficulty is added as mastery and understanding is achieved. Problems and challenges must be well-ordered so gamers (or students) start off on the correct path. Earlier problem build to achieving success in more difficult problems. There are breadcrumbs through the maze.