verdict seems to be out, well almost. Online games are serious business! And
when it comes to helping students learn, that’s as serious as it gets.
fascinating article titled ‘The Classroom of Popular Culture’ in Harvard Education Letter, James Paul Gee serves up a potpourri of game
folklore, learning styles, and a flippant analysis of the so-called US outsourcing
crisis. Yet, he still manages to provide a compelling proposition: If teachers
and administrators were to consider principles involved in designing video
games and apply those same principles to the classroom teaching experience,
then learning would be so much more stimulating. Maybe like playing a video
For those of you who have been involved in designing the learning games developed by TIS over the years, reading the article might give a sense of déjà vu. Many of the principles that Paul talks about in his article (written in Dec 2005) seem to have been applied by our designers for around a decade now. For e.g.
- Game players needing to have strong identities
- Users need to be producers not just consumers of games
- Levels of difficulty
- Increasing competence through peer and expert advice
be said that James Paul Gee is neither a crusader for games (games or nothing)
nor is he specifically talking about the online learning experience. What he
suggests is that some of the underlying philosophy on which today’s video games
are based could be applied to the classroom. If you extend that
argument, games could also be used to supplement or further the online
learning experience. And that is exactly the principle on which TIS operates
when it comes to designing learning games – it is always a game within a
course and not a game as a course.
I may not
be able to link theory with fact and make a compelling case for this subject.
But what I can tell you is this: If our High School teacher had followed up a
lecture on angular velocity with a 15-min breakout session to play online
snooker (maybe customized with controls to change mass/ radius), we may have
learnt Physics differently. And possibly would have had fond memories of that
high school teacher.
Disagree? Possibly agree? Comments welcome.
I have mentioned many Learning Games in this piece. You can access some of these by clicking here.
(Sanjay Easwar is Project Manager with Tata Interactive Systems)