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Research 2: Digital Games in Education: The Design of Games-Based Learning Environments

Right in the beginning of Digital Games in Education: The Design of Games-Based Learning Environments by Begoña Gros, she states that “engagement and motivation are interesting benefits of the use of games but they are not enough for educational purposes” (Gros 1). This is more of a humble and realistic approach than some articles. It is admitting that there is no one grand solution that will solve all the problems. If there was, it would be fairly obvious and most likely already have been implemented. However, the problems with formal education are complex and numerous, and will take several unique approaches to fix. It is quite similar to the power crisis that looms in the future of a world that depends upon limited fossil fuels: there is not going to be an all powerful renewable source of energy that can be utilized by everyone but rather a collective conglomerate of resources such as wind and solar will aid in the solution. Going back to videogames, this fact needed to be stated; if videogames took over the educational field entirely, there would be even less of a need for teachers than there already is (which is not good for me seeing as that is my ideal future career).

She goes on to write about research she has done:

“The British Educational Communications and Technology Agency (BECTA) has been one of the main forces in the UK saying that ‘titles such as Caesar II and Age of Empires operate within the context of ancient history and so include factual information about the period. With the increase in processing power and memory capabilities of new computers, there is an increasing demand for technically accurate simulations involving situations that would normally be impossible for the user to experience in real life…’ (2001, p.3)” (Gros 2)

While this is an interesting claim, there is an obvious flaw. The commercial gaming industry has no limits as to their creativity, which is good for entertainment purposes but bad for factual references. For example, there are factual battles from the civil war depicted in Assassin’s Creed, but there is no factual evidence that they were won by a secret society of highly skilled ninja assassins (so far as we know). It would be quite humorous to see that referenced in the history paper of a high school kid.

In the section labeled “Effects of Learning with Digital Games”, Gros suggests that videogames would be more useful to teach learning habits instead of merely content. One of the reasons the current educational system is not doing so well is because it includes a lot of memorization and regurgitation onto a page. With this method, just because a student gets an A on a test does not mean he necessarily knows the material; he could have simply memorized everything, only to forget about it next week. Videogames, however, can give the students valuable visual and audible learning skill that they can utilize in the other parts of their educational journey.

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