Games in Virtual Education – A Trend at iNacol’s Virtual School Symposium 2012
Although somewhat biased, I noticed more and more mentions, workshops, and sessions of game-based learning this year at iNacol’s Virtual School Symposium. In conversations with vendors, many were quick to highlight or mention the games they provided in their instruction. There were more concurrent sessions on games for learning as well as workshops than in prior years. Some of these sessions were focusing on using games, and others were focused on applying game elements to the classroom environment.
Teachers who had more flexibility in their course content were telling me how they were using online games in their instruction. One teacher, who taught in a blended learning model, talked to me about how she used board games in her instructional process. It speaks to a larger trend. Teachers, vendors, and thought leaders are realizing the potential of using games and elements of games in the instructional process both online and in the brick and mortar classroom.
Michael Horn frequently touts digital learning as disruptive innovation. In terms of this subject, I believe that games have the potential to be considered a disruptive innovation. What do games do that is disruptive? Games create situated learning, where the player both learns and applies the learning in relevant contexts. These contexts might be real-world or a fantasy. Regardless, this situated learning is engaging, and is more than just understanding content. In order to achieve in the game, players must apply and problem solve throughout the game. Much of our traditional instruction does not do this. Students often process in a task-oriented path, where the context is not relevant. Related to this, games leverage problem-solving and critical thinking – both important 21st century skills. In addition, our systems do not give students the freedom to fail like games do. We often punish students for practicing the content. As digital learning moves toward to competency-based pathways, we will need instructional tools that model this. Games can further leverage learning competencies without punishing students for practicing and failing along the path of learning.
Did you attend iNacol’s Virtual School Symposium in New Orleans? If so, what trends did you see? Let us know in the comment section!
Trackback from your site.