Saturday, October 5, 2013

Benefits of Gaming

This week I have been thinking of the befits of gaming. It started as Jason initiated a conversation about MinecraftEDU. This was combined with an interest from Ji one of my graduate students. Minecraft is a veteran game that still engages millions around the world. The EDU version allows educators to create a self contained and "safe" environment for students to explore.

As it happened I also presented at NETA fall conference this Thursday and happened to see the tail end of Jason Schmidt's presentation on MinecraftEDU. We had lukewarm coffee right after my presentation and chatted about opportunities to not just do but also research. I am excited.

As Ji and I brainstormed the benefits of using Minecraft we came up with four areas that we think would matter greatly to our students growing up in the 21st century.

1. Collaboration- to be successful students must learn to work together toward common goals, coordinate and learn to create a code of conduct. We also expect distributed practice and cognition. These are key skills and Jason suggested that he has already seen it at work.
2. Problem solving- since mine craft is a Lego like world with it's own rules any task requires some creative problem solving to reach goals (both ones you set for yourself and one set from the outside).
3. Engagement- we expect that incorporating Minecraft will improve attitudes toward school and engagement in school activities.
4. Creativity- The open ended nature of the world and the tasks can naturally lead to creative thinking and solutions.
5. Language- we expect that students will develop a community of practice that will distinguish itself using specific jargon and develop efficient ways to communicate.
By Megx see here
6. Democracy and control- Minecraft rests most of the control in the hands of students teaching them about decision making and creating opportunities for learning social skills and tolerance.

Our biggest challenge:
How do we measure impact?

We are currently collecting literature on these issues BUT we are thinking of designing individual and group tasks using Lego and
Keva Planks. More to come...
Comments and ideas welcome!

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