Gaming and Virtual Worlds

This Friday we will have the opportunity to talk with Professor Roger Travis, a member of our Department of Modern & Classical Languages on the subject of gaming, culture and education. Roger Travis’ video interview above as well as the assigned materials for this week focus on exploring how gaming and virtual worlds might offer informed, scaffolded and engaging learning environments for our students. How do these readings align with the concepts, perspectives and examples espoused in Seely Brown and Adler’s Minds on Fire: Open Education, the Long Tail and Learning 2.0 that we read at the beginning of the semester? Chris Dede suggests, at the end of Planning for Neomillennial Learning Styles: Implications for Investments in Technology and Faculty, that “a substantial number of faculty and administrators will likely dismiss and resist some of the ideas and recommendations presented here.” Why might that be?

As with our discussion on thirdspace with Professor Kevin Gaugler, I would like you to formulate a minimum of two questions to ask Professor Travis during our session with him. You may post your questions here as a way to generate a discussion of the themes in this week’s materials if you wish.

Update: Here is our archived LearnCentral session with Professor Travis. You’ll need to scroll down to the post-event link.

On our final Monday together members of our class will present on their classroom projects and we’ll have some time to discuss our class wiki.


6 Responses to “Gaming and Virtual Worlds”

  1. Tweets that mention Gaming and Virtual Worlds « Beyond WebCT: Integrating Social Networking Tools Into Language & Culture Courses -- Says:

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  2. christopherlaine Says:

    Question1: I think I see how Homer can be used to help us describe/understand what is going on in video games, but what are we learning about Homer by playing video games? I half remember the Halo lecture from Greek Civ., where the point was how the improvisational occurs within certain limits, i.e., Achilles has to die in Troy. From the admittedly little I’ve seen, it seems the emphasis is on the games. What is there unique to video games that would help us understand ancient epic?

    Question 2: What did the video game material replace from the old Homer class? Did the old format also focus on contemporary examples of myth?

    • Lay Says:

      I believe all of these questions were answered by Dr. Roger Travis in our virtual class today. I think it is quite impressive the work he and other educators are doing in integrating games in the classroom.
      christopherlaine asked “what are we learning about Homer by playing video games?” Many educators and experts agree that students grasp more ideas from games than from lectures. Why? Because students are focused in the game for longer periods of time. They can play Farmville on Facebook for hours, just to mention one popular simple game.
      Meanwhile, during a lecture, the attention span is more or less twenty minutes. That is, of course, for the average for adults – 20 to 40 years old – and I, for various reasons, believe that number is completely off (I think it is less).
      So, back to christopherlaine’s question, we have one thing down that is necessary for education: attention. The next necessary tool is material. Of course, if I want my students to learn about language, I will not have them play Galactrix (by PuzzleQuest). My objectives, as Dr. Travis explained, have to be clear. Therefore, I must focus all activities around what my goals are (remember our discussion on Universal Design). If the game’s goal is to understand Homer’s ideas of glory (if I recall correctly from today’s class), then what better than a game where the object is, precisely, to win and achieve glory?
      Of course, I know christopherlaine will defend the old (and proven) way of teaching. For some, it does work. However, just try to remember how you learned your ABC’s: didn’t your teacher play games with you? I do remember those wonderful times. Even my grandmother told me stories about how her first grade teacher made her learn the Pledge of Allegiance to the United States of America. Just so you know, my grandmother never spoke English before (or after), but her way of reciting the Pledge was the best I have ever heard in my life. And it not only sound great, my grandmother knew exactly what she was saying and what it meant. How did she learned: with games.
      So, on behalf of my grandmother, many students and my own, to thank you teacher who used games in class. Probably they were not Halo or Warcraft, but they worked and WE learned.

      • inasayyoub Says:

        I really got the answers to my questions through our session by professor Travis and I agree with Lay that learning through games is more effective than merely explaining a lesson very well. I know how games make learning a memorable experience for students that goes beyond the classroom and stays for a lifetime such as the case with Lay’s grandmother. Yet, I have to say that when teaching language and where a game has a specific outcome that the students are totally aware of it and achieve by accomplishing the game. In the case of other topics, the classical literature here, I would still be curious to know how students found these games so relevant to the subject they are studying and how it helped their understanding of concepts that the game emphasize.

        We are not talking about our traditional games that we grow up learning with, it is second life and many other games that are not so clear as to outcomes and the process of playing either. Though professor Travis explained that well through the allegory of the cave used by Plato , my doubts would be that some students may not feel the real benefit of what they are doing and how it is effective learning is going to happen with this missing link .

  3. chenwenh Says:

    My 2 questions for Professor Travis:
    1. Do you discover any difficulties in connecting gaming with materials you are teaching? Also not all students play video or online games, so do they have any problems in learning the materials by playing games?
    As your course now is completely online, students don’t meet with you face to face. In videoconferencing, people get to “see” each other in the virtual world, so if you can hold a videoconferencing on a regular base, say weekly or biweekly as if you are still teaching online but students get to see you, so you both might have quasi-face-to-face teaching and learning experiences together, do you think this will benefit you and students at the same time? If yes, in what way? If not, why not?

  4. inasayyoub Says:

    One of the readings we have for this week suggests that video games should be created with a coherent theory of learning, so my question is that would it still be easy for students to understand the connection between the materials they are learning and the video games they are playing even with these and feel the value it adds to their process of learning?

    Also in the article of Video games and the future of teaching the author states how video games are better environments for learning more than a classroom , especially in integrating knowing and doing , so what do you think of this as a professor who has an experience teaching in a classroom and through using video games as well?

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