Computer Games and Simulations for Investigation and Education:
As I looked through the resources included in this undergraduate course, I noticed first that students have access to all of the readings and elements from a very basic menu, which segments the “Syllabus, Readings, Assignments, projects, Related Resources and Download Course Materials “as separate pages, upon which topics are listed chronologically by week, rather than in the reverse order as we have at Walden (Resources and assignments listed together in a week-by-week chronology ).
This format allows the learner to skip around in the course, and access content or assignments of interest, rather than forcing them to participate along a mandated timeline.
The fact that the courses are creative-commons licensed, means that they can be integrated as links into other lessons and resources provided by educators. Because there is no enrollment restrictions, students of an age and at any time can utilize the information, without being informed that the course is “full” or that it is not yet “scheduled” to begin or allow access to the content. The challenge with completing a course like this, even though one has access to all of the content (with the exception of needing to buy one’s own books on Amazon.com, is that an individual student would lack the necessary interaction to play the example games or partake in “group” assignments, and would be forced to find their own volunteer-participants when team-mates or opponents are needed to collaborate or compete as part of the assignments.
As a fan of using informational and educational games, including “board” games which are aided by the graphic design capabilities of a computer, but printed and played “off-line,” this undergraduate class gives a great foundation for understanding the formats and processes involved in interactive play, which may be a necessary foundational lesson for learners who have never had the kinesthetic experience of board-game play.
The fact that the course introduces traditional board games before transitioning into computer-based games gives shows planning and the pedagogical understanding of transfer of knowledge. The fact that students are able to design their computer game using a platform/software called Scratch™, they are able to see a variety of projects form other learner-designers, and add to their community of scholarly work on the topic. The course not only introduces the concept of social-constructivist learning theory, but is clearly built upon its tenants of group design and real-life problem solving and community-sharing of the collective current knowledge and resources.
If an individual is considering following through with taking such a course, then it might be beneficial for them to formulate their own cohort group with which to interact and simultaneously follow along with the content, similar to founding a book club, whose members individually read and then share their comments and insights with one another in regular gatherings. Such a cohort could be designed by another teacher, utilizing the content with a group, or by group members themselves, in either a synchronous or asynchronous format.
I have included a photo of the computer-aided bingo game which I recently created for my Orientation Module. The bingo game asks the learner to print, cut, shuffle and re-assemble and adhere the photo squares to a blank game board. The directions then require the learner to follow through with the suggestion I made above, which is to form their own group of volunteers or colleagues to be their cohorts in playing the game. The game is designed to expose them to the idea of integrating technology into their work-tasks, and serves to reinforce the introduced concepts through auditory, verbal, and visual repetition and interaction through the task of playing the game. Bingo is classic to the industry in which I used this custom-created game, and by re-designing it, students are further exposed to the concept of customization of materials to meet alternate needs.
Klopfer, Eric. 11.127J Computer Games and Simulations for Investigation and Education,Spring 2009. (Massachusetts Institute of Technology: MIT OpenCourseWare), http://ocw.mit.edu (Accessed 04 Apr, 2013). License: Creative Commons BY-NC-SA