Studying: games in education stuff

Had a big party-like weekend of studying and nerding it up (which probably explains my procrastination fuelled post splurge), this was one of the things I wrote about - why using games and scenarios in education is awesome.

(And not just because I can justify xbox/ps2 time as personal development :)
(yes I still have last gen technology - if you have a spare wii/ps3/xbox360 lying around, please send it to the couchmedia tech relief fund - all donations taxable)

Scenarios make learning more engaging

Using authentic activities that reflect the situations and cultures in which learners will use new knowledge and skills makes course content more enjoyable, more relevant to them and easier to recall. In scenario based learning, learners are placed into a fictional setting where they take on roles that relate to the material being covered.

According to Brown and Voltz, “an interesting scenario will make extensive use of humour, imagination, reward, anticipation, or drama to enhance the activity. It will have topics and themes likely to be relevant and interesting to the target audience. It will make the learning activity seem like an obvious or necessary thing to undertake, given the situation presented by the scenario. “ (2005)

Brown, Collins and Duguid (1989) strongly emphasise the idea that concepts exist in a particular context which helps to shape the concept into useful knowledge. Presenting this information in a form related to its use in the real world, ideally in a form which requires the learner to act as though they are also in that context (i.e. As a historian or an educational designer), adds important layers of additional cultural meaning to the information being shared.

This is a useful strategy for me as an instructional designer as I recently worked on a project with a teacher which focused on a competency called Practice within legal and ethical parameters. This teaches nurses about legal and ethical issues within nursing practice, the law and their responsibilities. In the past, it had been taught essentially as a list of laws and policies that nurses needed to be aware of.

We created a detailed case study simulation in which nurses make decisions based on developments in a particular patient’s case, consultation with colleagues and other available information.

As the nurse progresses through the story, ethical and legal complications arise with the patient which highlight key areas of content.

This added hospital and nursing culture issues to the learning and allowed nurses to connect more personally with the course content, which to that point was considered fairly dry and boring. My approach was to use online multimedia resources to better visually represent the scenario context – something that Agostinho, Meek and Herrington (2005) didn’t emphasise, believing that “cognitive realism to the real-life task was of more significance”. (p. 231)

I have an interest in the use of games in learning, which is why this area interests me specifically and I’m currently in the process of creating an immersive 3D environment which is based around our umbrella dept at work, the Education Development Centre. A scenario based approach to this “game” seems like an effective way of structuring user interaction with it.

One factor to consider from the Agostinho et al (2005) research is that “use of scenario should be more flexible, to allow students with appropriate real-life contexts to substitute their own evaluation needs while still fulfilling the requirements of the course. (p. 241)

Brown, J., Collins, A., & Duguid, P. (1989). Situated cognition and the culture of learning. Educational Researcher, Jan/Feb, 32-42.

Agostinho, S., Meek, J., & Herrington, J. (2005). Design methodology for the implementation and evaluation of a scenario-based online learning environment, Journal of Interactive Learning Research. 16(3), 229-242.

Brown A.R., & Voltz B.D. (2005) Elements of Effective e-Learning Design, International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning. http://www.irrodl.org/index.php/irrodl/article/view/217/300