I have been researching what makes video games compelling/addicting for students (not that I would ever spend precious time with those dastardly, mind-altering life leechers). Ultimately, I want to integrate these aspects into the classroom.

The following attributes all, to one degree or another, contribute to making games fun:

Interactivity, choice, variation, engages the senses, power-ups/privleges, rewards (which lead to similar, yet bigger rewards), resource management, compelling story, graphics/production values, leveling-up/gaining ranks. (If you think of any more, could you let me know?)

I've already integrated many of these features into my cirriculum, but "rewards leading to rewards" seemed elusive. How do you get students to want to learn so that they can unlock more learning? Is it even possible? Will students push themselves to learn so they can learn?

As I considered this, I thought about which educational approaches might mesh best with game theory. Then the heavens opened up and a light shone upon Benjamin Bloom's Mastery approach. I know there are reasons why educators do not use his method (namely time constraints and standard proliferation), but it fits rather well.

I've attached my outline, please give me feedback as I want to refine this before I implement it.

www.mrwoodside.com

Tags: games, gaming, innovation, integration, mastery

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In regards to Moodle, I briefly looked into it and it seemed like it required being set up on a 24/7 server, is that right? As soon as I got that vibe I decided to hold that off until this Summer.
Interesting discussion. As an avid gamer growing up, I can certainly relate to the interest in fusing gaming with education. My own experience in gaming was with RPG-DnD-type games, and have often toyed with the idea of setting my class up like an RPG adventure. There would be character sheets, experience points, trappings, role playing scenarios, and more. I think many of the elements you've outlined here would provide much of the shell for such a system.

Another reason I'm so interested in this discussion is because I'm currently battling low motivation levels among my students. I'm currently running a project-based learning system where students create products to demonstrate learning, but I admit a lack of student choice may contribute to the low motivation levels.

Any way... I'm eager to read how this discussion develops further. :-)
I don't understand why teachers are not using the games themselves in class?
I haven't found a game that does what I need it to do. The games don't teach. The games don't do much more than ask math questions that could just as easily be on a piece of paper. So, I still have to teach the content, and that's the part the kids find hard to stay motivated to do. If they can play the educational video game, then they already know the content, and the game is just a really long review. Or, the game is just a gamified worksheet.

Someone else that I was reading (I'm sorry that I can't site him exactly) was talking about how people use technology instead of paper/traditional methods but that it doesn't improve on or extend material, it just makes it "shinier." I thought that was a great way to describe it. I don't want to make skill and drill or lectures "shiny," I want to make them palatable. Or, I want to find real alternatives to them, not just other versions of them.

I am looking for a way to get kids interested in being in class and moving through the curriculum. That's why I need to use game theory instead of games.
Good point. The objective of technology and game integration shouldn't be to make school 'shiny.' It should be to develop cognitive processes regardless of the gadgetry.

Setting up classroom protocols, expectations, and motivation techniques based on game design is fertile ground for education. Like most things in education, though... it's about mixing the right dose of theory with practice; kinda' like alchemy. :-)
Are you familiar with river city?
I looked at this one. I think it is on the right track, but I didn't think it had much to offer math. Also, like dimension m which Kev recommended below, it takes a relatively long time for students to work with a relatively small amount of material. In the age of merit curriculums and standardized testing, we are obligated to cover a certain [long] list of stuff and I'm not sure how the timing would work.

Still, I was super impressed with River City and I wished they had one for math. Michigan math in particular. Thanks for mentioning it.
Kate, just yesterday I stumbled onto www.dimensionm.com. It is a series of standards based math games that don't look like math games (one looks an awful lot like Halo!). I didn't play around with it much but it might be worth checking out.

As far as the "why not just use the games?" question I think that misses the point. Most games are not learning-content-based and those that are tend to be awful. All games, however, are learning devices. If we can take those devices and apply it to our content then we will have been successful.

Believe me, were I a game programmer that would be my focus. I'm not so I'll do what I can in my classroom!
OK, I looked at dimension m. I even tried it out. I am very much NOT a gamer. I was annoyed with it pretty quickly because I had difficulty controlling my player. However, in the free trial game that I could play I liked it a lot. It really does teach a concept through a game, not test the concept. It was on coordinate graphing, and you had to use it to find different targets.

In my limited imagination, I could see how coordinate graphing fits in with a game. Not so sure how you would integrate other more abstract concepts. I wish I could have tried out more for free.

Still, dimension m has exactly the right idea. Now, if only it were free and you didn't need to log in. My school won't allow students on sites where they have to provide a log in...
When i play tested this, one concern i had was that the male figure was out being the FPS, while back at HQ, the faithful female manned the com center. Just once, it would be nice to see the roles in different configs.
I'm setting up a combination role playing/blog, based on a near future world.

http://my-ecoach.com/project.php?id=14287

I will probably change the interface one more time into a more freewheeling one. The students, many of whom do not consider themselves writers, are really excited about this project. Next up, icons, we all have Photoshop Elements on our laptops, for our characters. Today, I'm in a workshop, so the sub is giving the students an assignment where they will have to explore the real physics behind their "powers".

I'm using combinations of crunchy bits (see Robin Law) from the Theatrix role playing system, our since 1980 home grown D & D based roleplaying world (I'm dming at Dundracon again over President's Day), and my own twists as a teacher to make this work in the classroom.
That's cool. I looked at your website. I'm wondering how this is going to play out in the blog/game. Do the characters have to interact? How does it connect to the science objectives?

I looked at a couple of the characters that were posted. The kids are writing a lot.

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