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Gaming in Education

The HASTAC Peer-to-Peer Pedagogy conference was the first place I heard people talking about gaming as a possible medium for education and/or a model for innovation.  I asked some people about it and gathered some resources as I tried to wrap my head around this concept.  It’s funny the difference between “games,” which have been around in education for eons, and “gaming,” which I associate with “World of Warcraft,” “Doom,” and other violence-focused fixations of adolescent boys.  I know that some lovely students in my classes spend enormous amounts of time in these virtual worlds.  I always turned away from them (the games, that is) with that shuddery sense that I didn’t want to know what those activities would reveal.

When I really think about the subject, though, I can recall computerized game that were fun and wholesome for my children a few years back.  “The Sims,” for example, and “Where in the World Is Carmen San Diego?”, and something about the gods in ancient Greece.  The last was all done in very American accents, including a vendor my husband still likes to quote: “Get your hot_mousaka here!” (Sorry, that link is totally not worth it, but I couldn’t resist playing around with inserting sound.  Must be a better way!)

Now that I’ve tuned in to this topic, I’m running across it everywhere.  There was an interesting analysis of literacy development in two student experts on World of Warcraft (NCTE’s English Journal, Sept 09) and the NYT Magazine cover story last Sunday, “Learning by Playing.”  It always feels good to catch onto a trend before it shows up all over the media–even if one is only half a step ahead!

Here are some links from the HASTAC conference that I still hope to pursue:

And here are a few cryptic notes I made about gaming and pedagogy:

  • aligning learning objectives with game rules
  • Beowulf game–exists somewhere?–immersive world
  • Middle School in Fla replaced all math with games (featured in NYT piece)
  • try to avoid rebranding traditional class with gaming overlay (it has to really be a game to work)

Now I need to do some more reading and find a game to play–something nonviolent.  Suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

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