I am stating a new class this semester in my Information and Learning Technology master degree. It is called Games and Learning and it is a class that I have been looking forward to taking since I returned to school. Lasting learning is done when the learner is self motivated and the learning has real purpose. I know my experiences with continuing education has highlighted this for me, When I went back to school for this master degree and my master of educational psychology I knew the “why” I was back in school and that fueled my motivation. Compared to my undergraduate studies where my best answer to “why” was because collage is what people do after high school. My time in undergraduate school is marked by doing enough to not be in trouble with the powers that be but not as a time of meaningful academic learning.
One important concept I took with me form my first master degree was the importance of play, especially imaginative play, in the development of children and how play relates to children’s learning. Games are a cornerstone of play and I an intrigued to find out how games, especially digital ones, can be applied in education to give children increased opportunities for imaginative play. Does the digital set of code give students the freedom to rehears their actions in a digital world, protected from real-world consequences? Or are games to structured or to full of ulterior motives to provide true learning opportunities?
I know that the answer will be somewhere in-between as I have had learning experiences with games which have been powerful and puff. Puff games for keyboarding or spelling that I found ways to beat without learning the skills that I was meant to learn. Or learning games like The Oregon Trail that opened my mind to the length, in distance and time, that gave me perspective to the hardships that were faced by settlers on the trail and giving me a connection to what I subsequently learned about the pioneers on the trail. I feel that the ultimate knowledge from this course will be a an understanding of what make a game an effect learning tool, a set of skills used to evaluate the effectiveness of learning games and the opportunity to get my hands dirty playing, while I am learning.