Reflection is an important element of learning. It is a chance to look back at activities and thinking and fit them in with a big picture of what is being learned. For my learning and games class I will be reflecting on my learning every few weeks in a series of blog posts, this being the first of the series. For these reflections I have a bank of questions to guide my thinking.
How did your participation in course activities this month contribute to your understanding of games (generally) and the relationship between games and learning?
One activity that has put me out of my comfort zone but has helped me understand some theories from our readings in practice was playing a Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game or MMORPG. The game I chose, Champions Online, is a style of game I have not ever played seriously. I ran into many obstacles that I did not know how to overcome. In the past when I learned new video game my problem solving methods have been to use trial and error followed by reviewing the manuals or tutorials, and finally searching the internet for a walk-through. Playing this new style of game, however, inspired me to try a new approach to problem solving by turning to the Champions Online online community, also referred to as an affinity space. Gee and Hayes wrote, in the article Nurturing Affinity Spaces and Game Based Learning, that members of an affinity space “rely on personal contact, through forums and messaging, to pass on their own craft knowledge and tricks of the trade” (2012, p.19). In the online forums I was able to find the information I needed when I was stuck in the game and was given unsolicited advice to not only pass obstacles but ways to do so the earned greater rewards. This was my first look into what can be learned from interactions in a interest based community and how that information can be more useful and expansive than what is in a game manual.
What preconceptions about games, play, and learning have you changed because of your course activities so far?
I truly believed that this course would be about teaching content through games. Looking at what is available and analyzing games effectiveness, then possibly finding or creating our own games to use in practice. I have had this idea turned on it’s head. Even in this first segment of class I have seen that it is much more important to think about how game are designed to be engaging and find meaningful learning moment in the interactions, cooperative and competitive, that arise because users are motivated to master game play.
How have you relied upon networks – with peers, via social media – to advance your learning in our course?
I have leaned on twitter as a way to stay informed with content my classmates have produced and to share when my blogs are posted. Twitter also give a nice opportunity to share short public comments to classmates that I hope are lighthearted and encouraging of their thinking and sharing. Finally I like using twitter to attempt to communicate with the authors of the articles and publications that I am looking at and open my content to a larger audience pool.
Ask yourself a question about games, play, and learning – and provide a meaningful answer.
I has a revelation during this semester about fantasy football as a game with potential to support math instruction. A few years back I purposed an after school fantasy sports program to support math practice, it was approved but I moved on to a new school before the program launched. After I have thought about how fantasy sports could be a good motivator for students who have low intrinsic motivation for math. This class is giving me the opportunity to find if others have looked into a connection between math instruction and if so to see how programs have be designed. My initial research has been promising I found a fantasy football lesson plan on the New York Time education blog and a teaching with fantasy sports website. The website has resources and video about fantasy sports math programs. One video, of a California school, was particularly interesting because of the firsthand testimonials from the motivated students.
What are your ongoing curiosities about games and learning, and how might you pursue these interests?
I read an awesome study about how playing video games helps increase affection and prosocial interactions in siblings for in cycle two, and in cycle three a popular press article that provides a brief real world example of how interactions around video games can help students develop empathy. These articles have started me on a path to find more about a connections between prosocial interactions and playing video games. I have found a chapter Pew Research Center study called, Video Games Are Key Elements in Friendships for Many Boys, which seems to have potential to discuss the connections between playing video games and developing social skills.