No simple recipe for education

Before I start writing about my thoughts and experiences, I want to ask how long does it take for you to finish all the readings and watching? It took me about 8 hours. That is beyond my expectation and luckily I started it yesterday. The reading for this week is more difficult to digest for me than last week. Maybe play-based digital learning it is not that widely spread in practice as blogging, or it does not take effect that fast, or I don’t have much experience with video games. More possibly, it is because last week, we were reading about blogging and then we wrote a post so we have gained understanding based on both information and experience. But this week, we read about play-based digital learning (which is explorative learning), but some of us may not have much experience on games or game-based learning (exploitive learning). Therefore, I admit that my understanding of play-based digital learning can be immature at this stage.

Games evolve in a fast way due to economic incentives, while education is different and needs some workaround in order to improve faster. Games are user/player-centered designs by nature because game companies aim to engage more users/players. The players’ experience decides everything. However, the students of schools are not the only aspects that affect the settings of schools. The educators, parents and the society are putting different meanings, expectations, and evaluations towards education, which volumes down the feedbacks on the effect of learning from the direct users of education, the students. I am surprised to know that games are evolving so quickly, to the extent that it can meet the most advanced learning principles in research and be similar to the best instructions. It makes sense to see current pilot educators experimenting with games to get indications for learning from its advancement in keeping people engaged in long and difficult learning and practicing processes. Since the first chapter is just an introduction of gaming, I only understand the possibilities of game, but not the HOW. So I have I have searched and found the full list of the 36 principles of learning here. I don’t get all of the principles because I don’t know much about video games and I didn’t read the following chapters. I will just write based on my limited understanding. Social responsibility and identity in the game is something that I do get. Through unlimited interactions with others, gives us plenty of opportunities to practice how to become a citizen of the world or a member of a community with the sense of responsibility and dignity. All the principles are learner/player – centered so that they keep evolving to please the learners to stay with it, instead of the learners pleasing the teacher and their requirements for the tests. Once the learner gets attracted by a video game, all they care is how to learn better and perform better. In this sense, games provide a less vulnerable environment for the students to learn. The players are only exposed to the relevant resources while everything else is excluded, yet in a real world, it is often difficult to lay boundaries to exclude all the distractions and reach the same level of concentration. What’s more, games also teach you to be aware of the progress and focus only on the current. The past is done, and the future is not accessible yet. That is another truth that we need to know when we try to learn for complex situations, i.e. to solve a problem or to reach a goal.

I like the idea of embracing change and treating it as a variable of the dynamic world. In this sense, life is just a game of learning, goal-reaching and problem-solving, the longest one, that we play without knowing it. This is another reason that we should learn from the shorter games and think about what works for the longer one. We need to know that life is full of changes and we are part of the changes as early as we can. It is human nature to be afraid of the unknown, avoid changes and stay in the comfort zone. But as we grow up, on the contrary, we get punished for being slow to adapt to changes and get awarded for confronting the difficulties and changes. Now games make more sense because playing games are analogous to the growing up and maturing of a person. In both life and games, we learn how to survive, become a better person, learn from mistakes, look for clues, solve problems, and move on. The difference is that technology enables games to be designed delicately to provide an engaging environment. Space, time, resources in the virtual world can be presented in unlimited ways, fostering unlimited learning and thinking.

Throughout the 8 hours of reading and watching, I have been asking the same question about what does “imagination” (in this week’s topic) actually mean? At the beginning, I thought it is just about the 3D environment of video games. Then it turns out that it is not just about video games, it is more about a technology-enabled learning environment in the format of a game. The answer is still not clear but I will try my best. Imagination means the continuous and engaged curiosity, excitement and freedom of creativity stimulated by the settings of a game and the multiple ways of information presentation enabled by technology.This kind of imagination is not possible without the game setting or without technology.

This kind of imagination is not possible without the game setting or without technology. The digital era amplified people’s need to learn. In the non-digital world, the intellectual interaction and gaming already play a role. But technology makes interaction or gaming possible anywhere with anyone. Interaction and gaming are amplified with the potential enormous audiences or participants. The interaction and games take place in all formats. The networked people and resources (information) seem overwhelming and distracting, but if once we learned how to make use of it, we gain more concentration and progress and an open mind.

I agree with all the potentials of game/play-based and digital learning. But I also have concerns. It seems that games and technology have a lot to offer, but many of their benefits and settings are taken-for-granted yet it is not the same as the real world. This is where advanced learners/players/educators are as important. For the implicit things that have been achieved without knowing them, they will guide the newer learners to reflect on them and explicate them so that it can be used in other places in a more aware way. Similarly, not everything can be embedded into games. The accumulated knowledge and the organization of the existing knowledge in cognitive frameworks by our predecessors still can be delivered more efficiently through lectures.