Provocation on “What Games Have to Teach Us About Teaching and Learning: Game Design as a Model for Course and Curricular Development”

In this article , Kimon Keramidas offers a thorough definition by Jesper Juul of what a constitutes a game, as well as further expanding on the 6 characteristics which create this definition: rules, variable/quantifiable outcome, value assigned to possible outcome, player effort, negotiable consequences. Instead of giving attention to how games may be integrated into the learning environment, this article chose as its focal point what educators might extract from game design to create more successful and dynamic learning experiences for their students.

While I find it an absolutely worthwhile endeavor to analyze how education may benefit from game design (and the new technologies they encompass), much of this article echoed many of the same ideas I’ve have heard in conversations about the necessity of student-centered pedagogies. This feeling was further reinforced in the conclusion where Keramidas uses a quote expressed by influential educator and philosopher John Dewey in 1938.

“A primary responsibility of educators is that they not only be aware of the general principle of the shaping of actual experience by environing conditions, but also that they recognize in the concrete what surroundings are conducive to having experiences that lead to growth. Above all, they should utilize the surroundings, physical and social, that exist so as to extract from all that they have to contribute to building up experiences that are worth while.” – John Dewey

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2 thoughts on “Provocation on “What Games Have to Teach Us About Teaching and Learning: Game Design as a Model for Course and Curricular Development”

  1. As an 8th grade science teacher I used games often. Luckily, technology has been moving quickly and in the 5 years since Keramidas article was published, there has been an increasing number of science interactive games free and available for use in the classroom. These interactives allow for students to explore scenarios that we would not be able to explore in class. They allow students to learn a their own pace, and create a safe space to make mistakes, and above all are fun and engaging for both students and teacher.

    One thing I worry about with the use of games is the idea of transfer of knowledge. Are students able to take what they have learned in a virtual connect- one that is representative or the real world- and apply what they have learned in the real world? In my experiences some children are able to make the connections and others are not. I believe that this has to do with on which prior real world experiences the virtual experiences are scaffolded upon. As a teacher, we must be mindful to create learning experiences that are real and not just a representation of reality. Games are a powerful learning tool, however, not the only learning tool.

    That being said, as Keramidas explores, there is a lot to be learning in setting up learning experiences using some of the same frameworks as games. However, I would advocate for using both virtual and non-virtual learning experience in the classroom. This would help students to learn to navigate a world, their world, with all the nuanced, subtle interactions and infinite numbers of outcomes.

  2. I found Keramidas’ article really useful after reading the chapters by Gee. Keramidas gives as a model and different features to have in mind when developing course and curriculum (although I haven’t had the opportunity to develop my own course yet, it seems helpful and practical). However, I was expecting more examples/models while reading Gee. I did enjoy the simple and direct language that he uses (the video games descriptions are very detailed) with personal examples and experiences, but where are the classroom applications of the learning principles that Gee is describing and listing at the end of each chapter? How do we apply these principles to our pedagogical practices? I think I was hoping for a more practical chapter in the book. I feel that there is lack of evidence in how to use video games and apply the principles inside and outside the classroom setting.

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