Monday, August 1, 2011

Computer Games Ch.1

Stupid publishing feature on Blogger...this was meant to post yesterday...

The Debating Game

The introduction of How Computer Games Help Children Learn talks about how computers let us work with simulations of the world which we wouldn't necessarily be able to do otherwise. It also defines epistemology as the study of what it means to know something and therefore epistemic games as ones that are about learning to think in innovative ways. Our world values innovation, not standardization so therefore epistemic games are part of the educational solution. 


Shaffer defines 'game' as collaborative, ongoing and not necessarily connected to winning. He said they should also be personally and socially meaningful and have a set of rules to follow. 

He also says that games allow kids to live in worlds that they are curious about, or afraid of, or want to try out in order to understand the rules, roles and consequences therein.  

The Debating Game 

The Debating Game is a role playing game where students learned to think, analyze and act in a way that is authentic to the 'real-world'. This activity took place before students read about an event in class. A small group of students took on both the pro and con side of a debate on American involvement during the Spanish American war. Other students in the class watched the debate. The teacher served as the mediator and the other students provided detailed, written feedback to the debaters, which made the process authentic. Debaters were expected to use sources to back up their arguments and to follow the guidelines set up by the teacher. This game taught the students to think like historians - not 'if' a source is biased, but 'how' it is and to use that information to shape their arguments. 

My Thoughts

I agree with the assertion that it should be our job as educators to teach children to think. That is my number one goal. Shaffer laid out a solid argument for how 'The Debating Game' does just that. I was very intrigued by the idea as a social studies teacher myself. I've had numerous current events debates, and even some historical debates but they have always taken place after studying a topic in-depth. I am intrigued by the idea of using it as a pre-teaching activity and am anxious to try it myself and see how it goes. 

What I particularly liked about this activity was that it had students analyzing multiple sources of information, reading, writing, speaking, and reflecting all in one activity. What I failed to see was the tie in to computers here. You could use the computer to research or to write the evaluations, but the computer isn't doing anything other than substituting what a pad of paper and a library could do. Did anyone else find that weird? (or maybe I'm just missing something) 


  1. That is one value of a "Game" style assessment. You as a teacher can step out of the picture and let the student learn. They can also do it asynchronously completing the game anywhere and at any time.

    * Nice thing is you can "retro" a post to proper time by changing the date/time

  2. I like the idea that a game is not just what I think of when I think of a game. There are really no ends just learning and process.

  3. I love games in the classroom, although I really think that a little healthy competition is valuable. My ninth-graders are always excited to play Jeopardy to review for their final, and why not? As the author said, we spend time away from "regular class" time, and if that can be a carrot on a stick, I'm all over it! I asked Mike the other day if he thought the kids would enjoy the game as much if there weren't points and chocolate involved, and he said he thought they'd tune out. Teenagers like to be competitive, that's for sure!

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  5. I did a similar style debating game in 8th grade and to this day, it still stands out in my memory. I completely got into it and spent hours doing research in preparation. Normally, I would have had a hard time just completely my homework. Turning it into a game made it fun for me. I ended up losing, which still pains me. However, my classmate had a much more difficult task- defend nazi soldiers who were just following orders. I had to make the case that every soldier should be held accountable for every action regardless of orders. I am still close friends with that classmate and we often reference that game. I agree with Mrs. Kennedy that I didn't really get how computers were essential to this game, but I do think it was a good way to introduce the concept of games as a learning experience in the classroom.