Thursday, December 16, 2010

Interactivity and Learning

Interactivity and Learning
The widespread affordability and availability of videogames has created a generation of students who are video game savvy. There is no doubt that any seasoned teacher has at one point in their career used a game as a means of ensuring interest and understanding of a course subject. However, the question remains as to how to use gaming as an instructional tool in online classes.
It is this instructor’s personal experience and opinion that games are most effective when used not to teach new material, but to reinforce concepts already learned by other methods. However, it also sets up the expectation that learning can be fun, which is not necessarily the message that private online universities want to deliver. This is due to online higher education universities wanting to model their courses around the method of teaching that exist in brick-and-mortar institutions and the journey is one that is challenging and tedious.
The videogame industry has grown greatly throughout the years. The capability of these games continues to reach new frontiers. Torrente, Morreno-Ger, Martinez-Ortiz, & Fernandez-Manjon (2009) do not believe that the world of online learning is ready to adopt gaming as their pedagogical model. This is due to two major reasons. First, is how the material is to be delivered to the students, and second is how to effectively measure the performance of the students.
As a possible future solution to these problems, Torrente et al., (2009) suggest the integration of the videogame to the Learning Management System (LMS) that the school already uses. The problem with this is the amount of technical requirements needed in order for the videogame to be used and function properly. The student would have to purchase the videogame and install it on their computer before they could complete the game.
Having the videogame attached to the student’s LMS has its benefits. Among them is the ability to track and limit the student’s use of the game. This possibility would allow the instructor to have more control over the game and lesson. It seems that the development of course specific games can be rather costly and not provide a long lasting result.
Questions continue to exist on this topic. As an online instructor, this author wonders the extent to which the effort of integrating gaming to online education will result in an educational gain for the student. Will it worth the effort of the instructors that use it? Especially since most online instructors are adjuncts who do not get paid per hour, but per course.


References
Torrente, J., Morreno-Ger, P., Martinez-Ortiz, I., & Fernandez-Manjon, B. (2009). Integration and deployment of educational games in e-learning environments: the learning object model meets educational gaming. Educational Technology & Society, 12(4), 359–371

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