[tforum] [Fwd: Gaming in the classroom?]

Joe Breen Joe.Breen@utah.edu
Wed, 25 Oct 2006 21:10:39 -0600


Something of potential interest...

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Gaming in the classroom?
Date: Wed, 25 Oct 2006 14:23:16 -0500
From: Gross, Daniel <Grossd@gtc.edu>
To: <I2k20-wkgrp@wiscnet.net>,	"k20advise@INTERNET2.EDU" 
<k20advise@internet2.edu>,	<swing-pc@yahoogroups.com>

My son's school has recently moved away from a traditional math program
toward a Chicago Math program: Everyday Math. Another school in MO using
the same program organized a website with links to various games that
support each of the themes and levels, and our district has linked to
it. (http://www.center.k12.mo.us/edtech/edm/1.htm)

The nice thing about this is that while the kids can use these programs
in during their computer lab time as skill and drill practice, as
parents we can also follow along and use these programs at home with our
kids. A pretty neat extension of the network into the home and a
testament to how communication is far more powerful than the technology
it relies upon.

What got me thinking about this was a response I got from a friend on a
recent I2 workgroup post that included some extraneous blog entries.
Along the lines of Fantasy Football and Fantasy Baseball leagues, an
enterprising group of young folks have started a Fantasy Congress league
for students to learn about the workings of Congress! Best of all,
parents who are interested can join a league and play along. (I know my
mother would LOVE to put her political views up against mine!) Check it
out at: http://www.fantasycongress.us/

Granted, how we use technology at first grade, and how we apply it at
high school aren't readily comparable. Skill and drill are far less
acceptable uses of the technology at the high school level, and moreover
the effective use of these technologies requires the input of a large
amount of information from OUTSIDE the program. Players who will succeed
at Fantasy sports or Congress leagues will do so because of the
experiences they have drawn upon outside of the contest - watching the
game, or following the political careers of those they are involved
with.

Back in high school, I remember playing the Stock Market game. We used
play money, each received the Wall Street Journal, and tracked our
investments in class. Perhaps that was my first indication I wasn't
bound for the business world. :) Out of curiosity, I figured that
someone, somewhere had probably set up a Stock Market Game simulation
where students could now trade electronically online, using up to the
minute market conditions, rather than yesterday's results. Sure enough,
quite a few popped up when I Googled it. (One example is here:
http://www.smgww.org/)

Benjamin Bloom comes to mind here as we work our way up the technology
ladder. From skill and drill knowledge work to application and analysis.
Very little technology support is required to download a flash
application and perform those most basic technology tasks, but Fantasy
Congress and the Stock Market Game require almost daily and instant
feedback. What would technology look like applied to those highest
levels - Synthesis and Evaluation?

Again, I'll turn to a strong Internet2 partner, the United Nations.
You've heard our I2K20 team talking about the Food Force.
(http://www.food-force.com/) Using real life situations, working with
others, and with multiple outcomes, none of which are necessarily the
"right" ones, your job is to feed hungry children. It's a powerful way
to apply complex learning with tangible results in the classroom and
synthesize how the application of what one has learned will play out in
a simulation.

But it's Evaluation that is the tricky one. It's the reason that
technology will never replace teachers. Its that reflection on what we
have learned that allow us to build a base upon which to do more
building. It's the Forensics programs we participate in over
Videoconferencing, the student newswire syndication service where
students publish their work, and the humanity that we impose on why the
best business decision isn't always the one that makes the most money.

My not-quite-7 year old son has just discovered Monopoly recently. He
loves the concept, and is becoming quite good at the game - he keeps
begging me to be the banker. I don't know how many six year olds play
Monopoly, and as a proud parent, I'm inclined to be extra proud of my
"gifted" son. But his interest of the game leads to the learning of many
new concepts. (Since learning to play, his concept of money and counting
has grown tremendously.)

We haven't yet gotten through an entire long game complete with houses
and hotels, but I know there will come a point where he looks at the
objective of this game - to put your opponent into financial ruin - and
learning of another sort will take place on a much higher level.

I'm still waiting for the version of the multi-player online Quake game
that replaces weapons with science. A place where students can interact
and build and learn, virtually. In 1987, I was involved in these kinds
of virtual communities through MUDs and MOOs. (Object based text
environments for multiple "players.") Later came great a great
semi-graphic version applied to educational professional development
called Tapped-In. (http://tappedin.org)

Today, kids are gathering in these electronic communications forums in
record numbers. With the older crowd, sites like MySpace have gotten a
lot of coverage. (http://www.myspace.com) Younger kids build homes for
their Neopets and compete in the battledrome. (http://www.neopets.com)

I2'ers may be familiar with Croquet: http://croquetproject.org. The
implications and applications for collaborative learning are incredible!
A commercially available like-minded environment is Second Life
(http://secondlife.com) and Teen Second Life. (Warning, there is a lot
of adult content here once you get into the "game" as with any
unregulated such resource. But check out some of the videos created in
SecondLife (they're random so I don't know what you'll get) at
http://secondlife.com/community/media.php)

This whole post went in a different direction than I intended it to when
I sat down to write it a few hours ago. (What you read in a few minutes
is compiled over hours between other distractions.) I had meant to send
you all some great examples of online games and gaming environments
being used in the classroom, and it sort of turned into something more.

I welcome your feedback, and great examples of gaming used in the
classroom, especially online examples that involve higher order skills
and communication. (More than static Flash demos of Frog Dissections.)

Hope you're having a great week!

Dan

--------------------------------------------
Daniel Gross, Director
Southeastern Wisconsin Instructional Network Group (SWING)
496 McCanna Parkway
Burlington, WI 53105
www.swing.k12.wi.us
tel: (262) 767-5972
fax: (262) 767-5971
mobile: (262) 492-3300
Skype ID: grossd@gtc.edu
email: grossd@gtc.edu
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/dangross
--------------------------------------------
"The dignity of movement of an iceberg is due to only one-eighth of it
being above water."