Chapter 4: Learning Games and Hybridity

In Chapter 4, FTD discusses how Learning Games are a useful site for testing the three genres of learning at scale. What learning games have you played in your life, and to what extent do the three genres help you classify them? What’s your view of how learning transfers from games to other kinds of environments? What other themes in the chapter did you find compelling or problematic.

I have been working for 10+ years on research related to game-based assessment, looking at the potential of games to be sources of evidence from which we could make inferences about what learners know and can do. I can say fairly confidently now that we know how to make a valid, reliable, and engaging game-based assessment. What we don’t know is how to do this at a cost or in a time frame that fits with the cost and time that is reasonable for commercial success.

I have been involved in a number of large scale efforts to build game-based assessments. Most have taken at least eight months of work, relatively large teams of people, and therefore sizable budget. Ultimately, for all the money and time spent, most covered a week or two of curriculum time. Commercial publishers spend that amount of time and money creating a whole grade level curriculum.

In addition, school districts are not particularly savvy about game buying. They do not know how to parse a good game from a poor one. They are generally not buying games as stand-alone products, but embedded in curricula, where it is more a check box next to “has games” than a careful analysis of the games themselves. So, at this point, we have good examples of games generally funded by grant dollars which are being used by individual teachers (sometimes lots of them) but have not been able to break into being classroom staples.

I wonder what Scot and Constance see as ways we can figure out this problem of cost and time to build, along with classroom usage. Or do they see learning games as something that should largely stay in informal learning spaces?

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Hi. That’s insightful. Could you recommend further reading for someone to get the current lay of the land? Which communities are working on the games which really have the concept at the core and are there any efforts towards educating people about recognizing quality games?

Here’s one starting point:

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I improved my typing speed in middle school by playing typing /shoot the alien game on Apple computer in early 80’s.
Games are great to supplement, not replace classroom learning.

We don’t have nearly enough time in class, computers/online is a great outside supplemental learning outside of class with parent support.

Games are not magic. Your games are not as fun as what they can find online. Parent partnership is key. / typing games / loud Kahoot! vocab games on Friday

I will admit to being someone who had trouble getting games into my organization. As an IT professional, we had a very hard time getting MinecraftEDU licensed and working for our students. The first trouble was simply getting it onto the laptops that we wanted it on. The second trouble was creating a server to allow students to play together (and, in effect, build their own learning community with one another in the gaming space). It took me going home, learning how to setup my own Minecraft server on one of my personal servers and then applying everything I learned to our enterprise network.

This feels like a large stepping block to me with peer-guided learning games. Learning comes from the students themselves supporting one another with the instructor acting as a guide; to me, this means students learning to access and use resources on their own. These types of games really require a lot of diligence from teachers, IT staff, and other support professionals to make sure that the communities students step into are accessible and safe. Minecraft is, to be fair, a special case in how the game is run in a host-client configuration and in its massive popularity. But other aspects of the community brought up in the book, such as Youtube videos, subreddits, wikis, online forums, etc. all have me incredibly wary from the get go. At that point, do I work day and night to make sure our filter is only allowing students to access an ever growing list of community resources and interactions or do I quarantine the kids off into on their own to learn and play together as a commune isolated from the rest of the existing gaming space?