Topics covered in this chapter include
  • What are educational games?
  • Educational benefits of educational games
  • Pedagogy of educational games
  • Games are motivational
  • Collaboration and competition in educational games
  • Failure and success, feedback and challenge
  • ‘Gaming’ your classroom
  • Special considerations for educational games and mobile learning
  • Variations in quality and suitability of educational games
  • Assessment
  • Not everyone is into games
  • Getting the balance right
  • Violence and games
  • Which games?
  • Play, screen time, and spatial awareness
  • Should I use Second Life with students?
  • Visibility of students’ online profiles

For more detail, read Chapter 16 of Using Social Media in the Classroom. A best practice guide.
Educational games basics
  • Traditional 'computer games', played on your hard drive or games played online
  • Complexity varies: from 3-D virtual worlds to simple 'apps'


Educational games are suitable for
  • Analysis, synthesis, evaluation
  • Collaboration
  • Communication and knowledge sharing
  • Networking
  • Visualisation

Special considerations
  • See chapter 16 of Using Social Media in the Classroom for special considerations regarding educational games including variations in quality and suitability, use of Second Life with students, and visibility of students' online profiles.

Examples
Games

3D and virtual worlds

Avatars
Avatars can be great ways of getting your students to have an online picture without having to upload a photo of themselves. Create your own avatar with something like meez, Build your wild self, Reasonablyclever.com’s mini-mizer. Once you enter these sites, you’ll probably spend too much time there having fun, so watch out!

Characteristics of good games
Steven Johnson in Everything Bad is Good For You states that good games should:
  • Be hard
  • Be about experience, delayed gratification, exploration, teamwork, reward
  • Force you to decide, choose, prioritise (weigh evidence, analyse situations, consult long-term goals, decide)

Games should encourage students to use a a ‘scientific, probing method’ approach:
  1. Probe the environment
  2. Form an hypothesis
  3. Reprobe and check the effect
  4. Rethink based on feedback

Games are about ‘telescoping’:
  1. Co-ordinating with your ultimate objectives
  2. Creating order and constructing proper hierarchies
  3. Long-term planning and present focus

Further reading