Friday, August 23, 2013

Friday's Relfections--Minecraft

An off-the-shelf game that is being used in in the classroom is Minecraft. See the video from the Idea Channel people arguing that this game is a "game-changer" in that it offers a new approach to game-based learning since it allows the user to construct the game. As Jeff Dunn (2013) explains, "In other words, a teacher could build his or her own video game tailored to the lessons being taught in the classroom. The students could then enter that custom game and explore, learn, and even build upon it themselves."  Check out the video and Dunn's blog post  discussing the pros and cons of using Minecraft in the classroom.

Andrew Miller, a blogger for Edutopia noted in this post Ideas for Using Minecraft in the Classroom, that "MinecraftEdu provides a custom mod, basically a customized modification of the game, that helps facilitate organization and focus for teachers to use Minecraft effectively. In addition, Joel Levin, the founder of MinecraftEdu, provides ideas and updates at The Minecraft Teacher blog.

What do you think about Minecraft? Would you use it in your classroom? Just how much work do you think it would take to build a high-quality learning environment within the game?


Thursday, August 22, 2013

Thurday's Thoughts--Serious Games

Serious Games is an offshoot of the gaming industry. Many of these games have educational value. Here's a NY Times article explaining the phenomena. Saving the World, One Video Game at a Time

One series that I found compelling is Global Conflicts. According to their website, “Global Conflicts” is an award-winning educational game series used for teaching citizenship, geography, and media courses. The series allows students to explore and learn about different conflicts throughout the world and the underlying themes of democracy, human rights, globalization, terrorism, climate and poverty. The game series is easy to use for teachers and is developed with close attention to curriculum requirements and ease of use in classroom teaching." You can get access to all the games for a 30-day trial.

Check out this intro video for the
Palestine Conflict. There are others available on YouTube as well. One thing I've found is that gamers like to record themselves as they go through a game. It's interesting, getting a stream-of-consciousness account of what they are thinking as they go.

Another Resource
Blunt, R. (2009, December). Do serious games work? Results from three studies. eLearn Magazine. Retrieved from

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Wednesday's Wonderings--Gamify the Classroom

The NMC Horizon Report > 2012 K-12 Edition identified mobile devices & apps and tablet computing as technologies expected to enter mainstream use in the first horizon of one year or less--that means NOW. Game-based learning and personal learning environments are seen in the second horizon of two to three years. In fact, the Report notes that the most popular games tend to be in app form (combining the two technology tools).
James Gee is a researcher in the field of educational games. These articles come to mind:
Game-like learning: An example of situated learning and implications for opportunity to learn
Good Video Games and Good Learning

What is it about games that make them powerful educational tools? Why are so many people engaged in playing? What would be the advantages and disadvantages of using games as a learning model?

Additional Resources: