Gaming, cognition, and education - Part 5
Scott McLeod, J.D., Ph.D., is an Associate Professor of Educational Leadership at the University of Kentucky. He also is the Founding Director of the UCEA Center for the Advanced Study of Technology Leadership in Education (CASTLE), the nation’s only academic center dedicated to the technology needs of school administrators, and was a co-creator of the wildly popular video series, Did You Know? (Shift Happens). He has received numerous national awards for his technology leadership work, including recognitions from the cable industry, Phi Delta Kappa, and the National School Boards Association. In Spring 2011 he was a Visiting Canterbury Fellow at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand. Dr. McLeod blogs regularly about technology leadership issues at Dangerously Irrelevant and Mind Dump, and occasionally at The Huffington Post. He can be reached at scottmcleod.net.
Today is Day 5 of my week-long series related to gaming, cognition, and education. Remember that I am approaching this issue with the following question in mind: Why is it that kids who can't sit still in class for five minutes can be mentally locked in for hours at home playing video games? If you're new to this series, check out the previous posts:
My guide for this series is Dr. Jim Gee at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, author of What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy. Today's topics are subset of real domain, bottom-up basic skills, and just-in-time information.
13. Video games can create subsets of a domain
One of the most powerful features of video games is their ability to simulate worlds: past, present, or future; real or fictional. The multimodal capabilities of video games allow participants to be immersed in rich, deep learning contexts. For example, instead of reading about the Civil War, learners can take the role of soldier, general, medic, battlefield photographer, news correspondent, and the like. At the same time, however, dropping a new learner into a complex world can be disorienting and discouraging. Video games can create a simplified subset of the real domain, a starting place where participants can safely become oriented to the new world before being exposed to the entire learning environment. The value of this cannot be understated. Imagine if you were an English-speaking American who was about to be dropped into the middle of South Korea. Wouldn't it be nice if you had a chance for some safe and structured, but authentic, practice first? Gee (2003) sums this up nicely:
Learning is not started in a separate place (e.g., a classroom or textbook) outside the domain in which the learning is going to operate. At the same time, the learner is not thrown into the "real" thing - the full game - and left to swim or drown. (p. 122)
14. Video games effectively facilitate "bottom up" learning of basic skills
In early stages of video games, learners are exposed to critical fundamental skills that allow them to gradually engage in more complex actions. As Gee (2003) notes,
early situations and problems [are designed] in a quite sophisticated way to lead to fruitful learning. When later the player is confronted by harder situations and problems, he or she has just the right basis on which to make fruitful guesses about what to do. (p. 135)
These basic skills are learned in a "bottom up" fashion - by playing the game, not through decontextualized exercises. Indeed, the structured learning environments of video games typically are designed so effectively that
by the time new players are aware of what are basic skills . . . the basic elements that are used repeatedly and combined and often concentrated in the earlier episodes . . . they have already mastered them. (Gee, 2003, p. 136)
15. Video games facilitate "just in time" learning
The artificial intelligences that reside in video games can be structured to respond in different ways to participant activity. Computer-mediated learning environments thus can be designed to provide information "just in time" or on demand. There is a great deal power associated with just-in-time learning or resource acquisition. For example, in manufacturing and industry, the concept of just-in-time manufacturing allows companies to reduce inventory and cut costs, making them more efficient and effective. Similarly, just-in-time learning environments allow participants to acquire skills or knowledge when they need them and not before. This facilitates greater concentration in earlier stages on things that are important (rather than extraneous or unneeded); allows for greater individualization and customization; makes learning more fluid; and leads to more active, engaged, motivated learners.
Questions of the day
- How do the concepts discussed above map on to K-12 education?
Gaming and education resource 5
Here's the schedule for the rest of the series:
- Saturday: discovery learning, learning transfer, learner as producer
The stories we tell define history. So who gets the mic in America?
- History is written by lions. But it's also recorded by lambs.
- In order to understand American history, we need to look at the events of the past as more prismatic than the narrative given to us in high school textbooks.
- Including different voices can paint a more full and vibrant portrait of America. Which is why more walks of American life can and should be storytellers.
A glass of juice has as much sugar, ounce for ounce, as a full-calorie soda. And those vitamins do almost nothing.
Quick: think back to childhood (if you've reached the scary clown you've gone too far). What did your parents or guardians give you to keep you quiet? If you're anything like most parents, it was juice. But here's the thing: juice is bad for you.
The controversy around the Torah codes gets a new life.
- Mathematicians claim to see a predictive pattern in the ancient Torah texts.
- The code is revealed by a method found with special computer software.
- Some events described by reading the code took place after the code was written.
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