Program Outcomes One, Two, and Three: Educational Gaming Activity Redesign.

Educational Gaming Activity Redesign by Claudine Morgan

EDU 697, Anthony Valley. September 19, 2016

Introduction

Upon examination of approaches to learning, learning styles and the intellectual development of students, it is clear that it is important for instructors to design their lessons with the idea of learner support and enrichment in mind. This paper will examine a previously designed MATLT activity. After determining the positive and negative points, a redesign of that activity will be presented. The redesign is intended to conform to program learning outcome 3: “design learning opportunities that apply technology enhanced instructional strategies to support the needs of all learners”. An explanation of the redesign will follow as well as a discussion of design and implementation challenges.

The Importance of Design

As a student, I have often employed a strategic approach to school work. My personal desire to achieve the very best grades have at times, encouraged me to look for meaning and a deeper understanding of presented material. At other times, I have taken a surface approach, working to learn all I needed to know to pass a test and researching no further.

Felder and Brent (2005) assert that the ideal approach to learning is one of “meaning orientation” or a deep approach. This however, does not happen on its own. They point out that it is up to the instructor to encourage students to internalize and retain vital information beyond the next test date. In order to do this the instructor needs to be aware of the wide variety of learning styles that students possess. While these learning styles should not dictate how the instructor teaches each student, they should help the instructor decide how to teach the class. They are careful to point out that it is also important for the instructor to challenge their students. While, for example, a social learner may do best in a group setting and a solitary learner may do best working on their own, both learners should be able to function in each other’s learning comfort zone. By pushing these boundaries the instructor is helping their students to learn more and in a more diverse manner. By providing a wide variety of assignments, instructors can appeal to, and challenge each learner in turn. The ultimate goal is to increase the learner’s intellectual development. All students begin their educational career believing that their instructor is the ultimate authority. Through their learning process the student should begin to understand the contextual nature of the information that they are learning. Finally the student should begin to take personal responsibility for their education. Taking personal responsibility for the information that they are receiving allows students to take a deeper approach and develop a better understanding of the topics at hand (Felder and Brent, 2005).

One way to enhance student education is to incorporate a wide variety of technological tools. Utilizing technology, students can express themselves creatively, build upon their own understanding, and readily share what they have learned with others. Applying technology to assessments is a fantastic way for instructors to help students take a deeper approach to learning (Horton, 2012).

Previous Activity

Educational games are becoming more prevalent in the classroom. Some online games are so complete that teachers use them in place of the traditional text book. For this activity you will be exploring one such game, Mission US. You will also be watching a short video, reading two articles and answering a few questions.

Instructions:

  1. Read the Article Can an Immersive Video Game Teach the Nuances of American History? To learn about Mission US.
  2. Mission US is an interactive educational history game geared towards middle and high school students. Go to their website here Mission US and create an account. Once you have done that, click through the tabs. Explore the “Home”, “About”, “Help” and “Educators” information tabs. *Note: You are welcome to play as much of the game as you wish, although you are not required to, you are here to learn about games in general.

C.    Watch this Video: Extra Credits – How Games Prepare You for Life – Education: 21st Century Skills

D.    Read the article The Art and Science of Teaching / Using Games to Enhance Student Achievement. To learn how to get the most out of in class games.

  1. Answer these questions in a short answer or essay.
  1. Name two strengths of educational games.
  2. Name a weaknesses, what can go wrong?
  3. Why is it important to discuss (debrief) after the game?
  4. Would you feel comfortable using an online game with your students? Why or why not? (Morgan, 2015).

Problems with Activity

The above activity is designed to introduce online educational games to teaching students. While the activity already utilizes technology, it is lacking in several educational areas. First, the activity is a large one and could be overwhelming to students. Second, the activity appeals only to visual and introverted learners. Finally the assessment component of the activity leaves students with little choice and limited freedom of expression.

Redesign of Activity

In order to reduce the initial work load and prevent students from becoming overwhelmed, this activity will be divided between a discussion question and an end of week assignment. This assignment is based on the assumption that the work is taking place using the Ashford University classroom structure. Spreading this activity out over a week allows students have more time to explore and absorb the information.

Instructions:

This week’s discussion questions and end of week assignment pertain to online educational games. As you will read, educational games are becoming more prevalent in some classrooms. Students are utilizing online games to learn second languages, explore scenarios and to learn about American history. This week you will be completing a series of activities to learn about the advantages of online gaming.

This week’s discussion:

Watch this Video: Extra CreditsHow Games Prepare You for Life – Education: 21st Century Skills. (4 Minutes) and read this article: Games in the classroom: what the research says. 

For your weekly discussion, answer the following questions.

  1. Name two strengths of educational games.
  2. Name a weaknesses, what can go wrong?
  3. Why is it important to discuss (debrief) after the game?
  4. Would you feel comfortable using an online game with your students? Why or why not?

 

This week ending assignment:

Mission US is an interactive educational history game geared towards middle and high school students. You will read the article Can an Immersive Video Game Teach the Nuances of American History? To learn about the online game, Mission US.

Second, go to their website here Mission US and create a free account. Once you have done that, click through the tabs. Explore the “Home”, “About”, “Help” and “Educators” information tabs.

For this week’s assignment you may choose to do one of the following:

  1. Play any mission in the game. After completing the mission, evaluate the game using the following parameters. You may write an essay or create an informative PowerPoint.
    1. What did you like about the game? Why?
    2. What did you dislike? Why?
    3. How could you use this game in a classroom setting to enhance student understanding?
    4. What would you change, if anything, about the game?
    5. Did you learn anything from the game?

 

  1. Review the information tabs within the Mission US website and locate another free online educational game. A Google search of “free online educational games for 8th graders” or something similar should yield good results.
    1. Compare the teacher and student support of the two games in an essay or an online mind map. Bubbl.us provides free mind mapping services.
    2. Be sure to include what you liked about each game.
    3. Point out at least one thing that you didn’t like about each games support structure and give a reason.
    4. Which of the two games would you prefer to use in a classroom and why?
    5. What did you learn about the instructor / student support in online educational games?

Design and Implementation Challenges

One of the first implementation challenges that I ran into was that one of the original articles was no longer available. The Art and Science of Teaching / Using Games to Enhance Student Achievement was no longer available as an article. I did however find some interesting, related pictures on Pinterest, although they were not helpful for this assignment. It is imperative that instructors pay attention to the instructions within their assignments. A missing article or an uncooperative website can cause unnecessary stress for a student who is struggling to maintain a good grade.

Another design challenge that I debated over was how to divide a cumbersome assignment into two less difficult assignments while still keeping them challenging. My decision to allow students to choose how they wanted to approach the assessment portion of the week ending assignment was born from necessity. While some students have difficulty with creating a PowerPoint they may thrive in a mind map atmosphere. Some students may be more comfortable researching games while others may find that playing a game is preferable. The options that I provided to the students not only appeal to personal preferences but also their individual learning styles. A social learner may enjoy playing a game while and introverted learner may find research more challenging.

I did not find it difficult to incorporate other types of technology into this assignment. This is likely due to the fact that I am comfortable with a variety of online technologies that I have worked with during the MATLT course.

I am however still questioning my choice of using a mind map as a compare and contrast medium. I considered having students create a wiki so that they could share their reviews with each other. After careful consideration, I decided that it may be easier within the Ashford University classroom framework to have students turn their assignments into me rather than sharing them with one another. Although, I am still debating this decision. If I decided to have students create a wiki page instead of a PowerPoint or mind map, I would need to create a follow-up discussion assignment where students evaluate each other’s evaluations. I think that decision would be determined by the level of the class and students, rather than student’s learning styles or abilities. Overall, I am pleased with the redesign of the activity.

Closing

After reviewing student approaches to learning, intellectual development, and learning styles, I realized that my previous learning activity only appealed to a narrow group of students. By modifying my original activity I have created an activity that appeals to a more diverse set of learners. Dividing the activity over a week allows for deeper understanding and further exploration of the topic. Breaking the activity into two parts reduces the overwhelming nature of the original activity. Modifying reading requirements allows students to access available articles. While the original learning activity was adequate for my understanding at the time, I am confident that the modified activity would promote deeper understanding of the topic and appealed to a variety of learning styles.

 

References

Bubbl (n.d.) Brainstorm and mind map online. [Website] Retrieved from https://bubbl.us/

Extra Credits (2014) How Games Prepare You for Life. Education: 21st Century Skills. [Video] Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0hoeAmqwvyY

Felder, R. M., & Brent, R. (2005). Understanding student differencesJournal of Engineering Education, 94(1), 57-72. Retrieved from http://www4.ncsu.edu/unity/lockers/users/f/felder/public/Papers/Understanding_Differences.pdf

Horton, W. (2012) E-learning by design. 2nd Edition. Pfeiffer. San Francisco, CA.

Mission US (2015) Mission US: an interactive way to learn history. [Website] Retrieved from http://www.mission-us.org/

Mission US (2015) Mission US: an interactive way to learn history. [Website] Retrieved from http://www.mission-us.org/

Morgan, C. (2015) Topics as a learning activity: educational gaming activity and assessment. EDU 652. Prof. Dennis Lorenz. Copy available upon request.

Schwartz, K. (2015) Can an immersive video game teach the nuances of American history? Mind Shift. KQED News. Retrieved from http://ww2.kqed.org/mindshift/2015/08/07/can-an-immersive-video-game-teach-the-nuances-of-american-history/

Shapiro J. (2014) Games in the classroom: what the research says. Mind Shift. KQED News. Retrieved from https://ww2.kqed.org/mindshift/2014/06/27/games-in-the-classroom-what-the-research-says/

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