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Friday, April 25, 2008

Computer Games and Learning

Frankly, I'd like to play more games in the classroom... the idea of using gaming in the classroom is something that's really grabbed my attention of late. In particular, two specific types of games:

  1. I've always been a big fan of simulation games, and the Civilization series is one of the best - raise your tribe from infancy to a powerful nation by researching technology, building cities and armies and public improvements, all the while keeping peace (or not) with your neighbors.

    I've stumbled across several educators who discuss using Civilization as a teaching tool for World History or World Geography. In my school, I'm working with those same subjects to pilot some lessons for using Civilization-type games as possible teaching tools. Because our teachers feel like they don't have a lot of room to move around the standards, I'm having to come up with some small-scale lesson plans. (If you've ever played Civilization, you know it's a multiple-hour, if not day, endeavor.)

  2. My family got our first computer back in the day before Windows, before graphics - but that didn't stop me from playing games. I've always loved interactive fiction, especially the Infocom titles like Zork or the Enchanter series. Interactive fiction (IF) is making a bit of an underground resurgence - not as a viable commercial option, but rather as a labor of love, as a throwback to games that were a little more mentally challenging, and as a new genre of literature(?). I've found a couple of articles discussing the use of IF in the context of language learners - delayed readers, or ESOL students.

    I'm interested in working with our ESOL teachers on possibly introducing some IF games to help support their students' comprehension and learning of English. It's possible that I might need to write some custom-made games over the summer... thank goodness for Graham Nelson and his Inform 7 authoring software.
Is anyone else using gaming in the classroom - particularly, certain mainstream games perhaps not intended for the classroom? Let me know!


Steven said...

I found that first game, "Civilization," interesting for a teacher to use. Where can I find this game online to purchase? How exactly how does this game work? Another game that is digging back to my elementary days that I have always found interesting was "oregon Trial." I believe the game's name explains its' topic. I remember our teacher using this program to teach my class of what horrors and hard times Native Americans went through. Does anyone know of any games that have educational purposes such as these games?

nisha said...

Interesting article. You make some good points. Thank you again.