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Computer games, simulations and virtual worlds have made significant inroads into education and training. This is driven by a desire to improve engagement or to immerse learning in realistic simulated settings, but often limited by economics and resources. How much does it really cost to use games in education, and how can we maximise the gains while minimising the cost?
Open Education initiatives hint at solutions, but there are some particular challenges in opening access to virtual world, game and simulation educational resources, and in integrating learning and assessment from these into existing systems and practices.
Games have the power to engage and motivate learners by providing rich, experiential learning environments. In Higher and Further Education, however, there is increasing pressure for institutions to provide ‘value for money’ learning experiences, and students take their increasingly expensive educations very seriously. This raises the question of whether games – even serious ones – are appropriate or acceptable in our universities and colleges.
“All you need to understand is everything you know is wrong.” —Weird Al
My mother told me cleaning toilets builds character if done repeatedly. The other night five friends spent more than three hours dying over and over again while playing World of Warcraft (WoW). She never said anything about dying. I found cleaning toilets only gets you clean toilets. Dying and playing, however, teaches you important things. Demons, dragons, dwarves, and possibly folklore, you could see, but learning, love, and leadership?
Sounds crazy, but it’s true: World of Warcraft has something to say about learning. Prepare yourself, because everything you thought you knew is wrong.
17th–19th March 2011