Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Personalized Learning & Gamification

I hate video games. I find them to be a huge time waster and it seems like they do nothing to improve skills or learning. Although I am far from being alone in sharing this view, I know that I am not correct! Actually, "Gamification" has place in education, and it's something that many of us "old school" teachers need to learn how to embrace. This does not mean, stop teaching, stop interacting "face to face" start gaming because it will make kids smarter... (we all have seen enough evidence to prove that this isn't true!!) But if selected games are chosen and they are used in addition to practices which are already implemented in the classroom, then they have a place! As a teacher have you ever been able to give instant feedback to learning to each and every student in one lesson? Well that's what games can offer. Instant feedback, instant reinforcement as to whether or not the strategy that a person is taking is correct or not. Plus games allow for failure. Oooooohhhhh.... did I say failure!?!? Yes, but it's not the end of the world if a person fails at a game.... it's a lesson that the user doesn't get the information being taught.

In spite of my hate for video games, last year I used a FREE site for Math Video games. On this site, I could set up my class list, choose specific skills that reinforced concepts which we were exploring, plus introduced new concepts for the next unit - and 85% of my class loved it. There were a few kids who detested gaming, but gave it a shot. Did it improve results? I think it did. Do I have the data to back it?? I would need to employ gaming for more than one year to test the results. Did the games follow curriculum outcomes? Most of them, I chose them based on a data bank of skills, and referenced the Sask Math Curriculum. Did it engage students and get them "practicing" math at home, until their parents "kicked" them to bed? Yep! Did it teach collaboration once in a while? Yep, particularly because once in a while we would engage in a "Fai - To" or "Math Battle" against another school, and we needed to garner enough points to win. Did it highlight student skills and allow for students to shine? Yep. Many of my quiet students who would never speak in class, would work hard to win points for our class, and soon became known as "Math Ninjas".

Quality Learning Games Can Provide Skills for the following...
• motivate and provide goals
• encourage participation
• foster creative, interactive problem-solving
• strengthen critical and systems thinking
• pose adaptive challenges
• spark inquiry

So even though I hate video games, I think that there is room for them as part of a teacher's repetoire of practices to improve learning.

So I guess all I am saying is... Give Video games a chance... in the right context that is!!

Here are some video game links which I have used for Math...

www.mangahigh.com - FREE!

http://labyrinth.thinkport.org/www/ - FREE!

www.mathletics.com - NOT FREE!

Other games... (There are tons that I have used, but these ones really grabbed my attention...)
Gamestar Mechanic - Learn how to create video games!! Free registration and 1st game, then there's a cost.
Against All Odds - United Nations game, allows user to feel what it's like to be a refugee.

MTV's - Darfur is Dying



MIT's Learning Edge Platform Wars - yes from MIT!

Mindshift - "Can Games Be Effective in Schools?"

Mindshift - "Where do Educational Games Come From?"

Institute of Play - Games and Learning

Tomorrow.org - "Mapping a Personalized Learning Journey - K-12 Students and Parents Connect the Dots with Digital Learning"


Infographic on Personalized Learning

Teach With Portals - Learning With Technology (Many subjects explored with lesson plans, Wiki, Blog... Very tech influenced.)
*Check out Language Arts Lesson- "How can a video game be a story?"

Ted Talk -