Quality teachers and quality digital games (video and computer) are dynamic resources that experience ongoing changes based primarily on their interactions with learners. Characteristics of these resources have been, and will continue to be researched and identified in order to discover ways to improve student learning. This chapter uses the descriptors of one of these resources, quality teachers, to illustrate how the same characteristics are integral to effective digital games. North American youth now spend more time on digital gaming activities than they spend watching TV or reading (Greenberg, 2004; Prensky, 2005), prompting educators to become familiar with the ‘quality teacher’ traits of digital games that keep learners on task and learning. By using the descriptors of quality teachers to evaluate digital games, educators will gain a better understanding of why digital games are effective learning tools.
What Are Dynamic Resources?
Janette Hill and Michael Hannafin (2001), in their study of the changes in and challenges of resource-based learning, categorize resources as either static (e.g., print, video) or dynamic. Resources are assets in the environment that can support learning and are as diverse as books, media, humans, models, games, videos, manipulatives, toys, technologies, art works, pictures, and realia (real-life objects). Hill and Hannafin (2001) define dynamic resources as those that “undergo frequent, sometimes continual change” (p. 6), and include humans (especially quality teachers) and digital games in this category. I propose that descriptors of one kind of dynamic resource, quality teachers, are also descriptors of quality digital games, another dynamic resource.
Key Terms in this Chapter
Pedagogy: Commonly known as the art or science of teaching; includes instructional skills, content knowledge, interpersonal skills, personal abilities, and the “moral and ethical aspects of working with learners” (Davis, 2004, p. 144).
Multiliteracies: The ability to interpret and understand diverse forms of text—oral, print, visual, or cultural.
Dynamic Resources: Resources that experience ongoing modifications. Such resources include humans, digital games, and Web pages.
Intertextuality: Refers to meaningful relationships among different types of texts. Digital gamers make meaning from the relationships among many different kinds of game texts such as icons, graphics, print, audio, narratives, and cross references to other media.
Resource-Based Learning: Learning that “actively involves students in the meaningful use of a wide range of appropriate print, non-print, digital, and human resources” (Alberta Education, 2004, p. 110).
Realia: Artifacts or objects such as fossils, rock specimens, and insects that are commonly found in the environment. It is a term used primarily in the field of library science to refer to naturally occurring objects such as artifacts, objects, and specimens related to the real world.
Quality Digital Games: Computer and video games that incorporate high standards of pedagogy and enable learner success. These share the characteristics of quality teachers.
Quality Teaching: Consists of two components: good teaching and effective (successful) teaching. These share most of the characteristics of quality teachers.