Using Digital Games to Develop Ethical Teachers

Using Digital Games to Develop Ethical Teachers

Karen Schrier (Marist College, USA) and Charles K. Kinzer (Columbia University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-322-7.ch016
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Teacher education that emphasizes the understanding and assessment of ethics can support the creation of an ethically aware and critically engaged citizenship. But how do we develop teachers who are reflective and critical thinkers of ethics? One potential solution is to incorporate digital games and simulations into teacher education curricula. Game worlds might be suitable playgrounds for ethical thinking because they can encourage experimentation with alternative identities, possibilities, and perspectives, and can support a learning sciences framework where: 1) cognition is situated, 2) cognition is social, and 3) cognition is distributed. In fact, games themselves, like all media, reflect designed values systems that should be considered and analyzed. Using case studies of current commercial and more explicitly educational digital games, we create a set of recommendations for creating future games and simulations that teach ethics to educators.
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  • • You catch the top performing student in class letting a classmate cheat off of her. Do you give both of them F for the test, or just the one doing the copying?

  • • Some classroom software is missing, and you have a hunch who did it, but no evidence. What do you do?

  • • One diminutive child is accused of bullying another (bigger) classmate, but neither appears to be telling the whole truth about what happened. Do you punish the accused child? How do your biases affect your decision?

  • • You overhear a child’s parent say a racial slur in front of their child, and then witness their child say it to another child’s face in class the next week. What do you say to the child’s parents?

Teachers are constantly traversing ethical territory. Highly effective teaching relies on the critical thinking, reflection, and negotiation of ethics (Fisher, 2001). Argue Zubay and Soltis (2005), there is “an inherent moral and ethical relationship between those who teach and those who are taught... education itself is a moral endeavor... school is an environment of moral interaction and sometimes moral struggle” (p. 3-4). Teachers who are critical thinkers, analyzers, empathizers, and decision makers of values, can foster ethical classrooms and a learning environment that supports their students’ ethical development—required for an engaged, citizenship within a diverse democracy.

Sicart defines ethics using Aristotle, as a “practice of virtues oriented towards achievement of a better life... to use judgement to evaluate the situations in which they were immersed, and thus take choices according to the will of being a good human being” (Sicart, 2005, p. 15). For teachers, we would expand this to include the practice of making choices based on standards of action that maximize teaching and learning and result in a supportive classroom environment that reflects tolerance for diverse opinion, respects individuals, and fosters expectations of success in achievement. Yet many educators have little practice handling ethical dilemmas, reflecting on one’s value system, or considering alternate moral structures. Teachers regularly make ethical decisions without necessarily realizing their full implications, though their actions have consequences on the dynamics of the classroom and on individual student behavior (Zubay and Soltis, 2005). Possibly more challenging than knowing what to do about ethical issues is teaching others how to handle them, despite that ethical norms themselves are “constitutive of teaching” (Churchill, 1982, pp. 297-298) and of any social relationship. Since ethical thinking processes and solutions to ethical problems are not clear cut, nor are they entirely replicable, the understanding, analysis and representation of these issues requires a complex learning environment that enables people, for example, to experiment and test different scenarios, creatively explore the consequences of possible actions, and to determine the tacit values inherent in the environment’s social relationships.

In this chapter we argue that games and simulations, if properly designed, could be compelling ways to help teachers manage ethical issues and practice ethical thinking. We define simulations using Guetzkow (1963), as cited in Ellington, Gordon, and Fowlie (1998), “an operating representation of central features of reality” (p. 1), meaning that it can represent some aspect of reality and must be “ongoing and dynamic” (Ellington, Gordon, & Fowlie, 1998, p. 1). On the other hand, we define games using Jesper Juul (2004), as cited by Sicart (2005), who argues that “a game is a rule-based system with a variable and quantifiable outcome, where different outcomes are assigned different values, the player exerts effort in order to influence the outcome, the player feels attached to the outcome, and the consequences of the activity are optional and negotiable” (p. 14). We argue that the games described in this chapter could be categorized more broadly as simulations, and could even be deemed as game-simulations, since they represent aspects of reality and are ongoing, but also include rule sets and variable outcomes that are influenced by the player (a discussion of game-simulation hybrids is offered by Ellington, et al., 1998).

Complete Chapter List

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Editorial Advisory Board
Table of Contents
Rhonda Christensen, Gerald Knezek
Chapter 1
A Simulation Primer  (pages 1-24)
Katrin Becker, James R. Parker
This chapter provides an introduction to digital simulations for those interested in using or designing them for instructional purposes. There has... Sample PDF
A Simulation Primer
Chapter 2
Youngkyun Baek
This chapter expands upon the definition of a simulation with two categories: experiential and symbolic. It discusses the interactive, experiential... Sample PDF
Digital Simulation in Teaching and Learning
Chapter 3
Peter R. Albion
Interaction is fundamental to the learning process and game-like 3D online spaces present opportunities for enhancing learning through supporting a... Sample PDF
Virtual Spaces for Teaching and Learning
Chapter 4
David Williamson Shaffer
Multiculturalism is an essential tool for democratic citizenship in a world made ever more closely interconnected by information technologies. In... Sample PDF
Computers and the End of Progressive Education
Chapter 5
Celina Byers
The desired outcome of instructional game design is to combine the powerful attraction of games and the proven effectiveness of instructional system... Sample PDF
Combining Instructional Design and Game Design
Chapter 6
Helyn Gould, Michael Hughes, Paul Maharg, Emma Nicol
Game-based learning and simulation is a powerful mode of learning, used by industries as diverse as aviation and health sciences. While there are... Sample PDF
The Narrative Event Diagram: A Tool for Designing Professional Simulations
Chapter 7
David Gibson
In order for a digital simulation to provide an artificial teaching environment there needs to be a computational model of the act of teaching... Sample PDF
Modeling Classroom Behaviors in Software Agents
Chapter 8
Sara Dexter
The new technology-enhanced conception of assessment stands in contrast to the traditional view of assessments as tests of a learner’s ability to... Sample PDF
Design Principles for Interactive Learning Environments with Embedded Formative Assessments
Chapter 9
Penny deByl
Three-dimensional virtual learning environments provide students with pedagogic experiences beyond traditional two-dimensional textbook and Web page... Sample PDF
Hybrid 2D/3D Development of Interactive Simulations
Chapter 10
Len Annetta, James Minogue, Shawn Holmes, Meng-Tzu Cheng, Elizabeth Folta, Marta Klesath
This chapter will provide concrete examples of how a research group at North Carolina State University is using case studies as the... Sample PDF
Using Case Studies as the Narrative to Game Design and Development
Chapter 11
Mark Girod
Teacher education is currently facing pressures to demonstrate efficacy in preparing teachers who can affect P-12 student learning gains. Teacher... Sample PDF
Exploring Teacher Problem Solving Using Simulation
Chapter 12
Donguk Cheong, Bokyeong Kim
A computer simulation for improving teaching is expected to remove the potential negative effects on real students while creating an environment... Sample PDF
A Simulation for Improving Teachers' Motivational Skills
Chapter 13
Damián Piccolo, Anna Oskorus
Nearly half of all new teachers leave the field of education within the first five years (Ingersoll, 2003; Alliance for Excellent Education, 2005).... Sample PDF
Designing Commercial Simulations for Teachers
Chapter 14
Scott J. Warren, Richard A. Stein
This chapter discusses the design and use of simulated teaching experiences contextualized through role-play in a multi-user virtual environment as... Sample PDF
Simulating Teaching Experience with Role-Play
Chapter 15
Bokyeong Kim, Donguk Cheong
This chapter presents the theory, structure, and development process used in designing a teaching simulation. simClass was designed to help teachers... Sample PDF
simClass: Simulate Your Class Before You Teach
Chapter 16
Karen Schrier, Charles K. Kinzer
Teacher education that emphasizes the understanding and assessment of ethics can support the creation of an ethically aware and critically engaged... Sample PDF
Using Digital Games to Develop Ethical Teachers
Chapter 17
Shelby P. Morge
Recently adopted 21st Century goals stress the importance of preparing students for a globally competitive society by providing them with... Sample PDF
Modeling in the Classroom Using Squeak Etoys
Chapter 18
Mary Jo Dondlinger, Scott Joseph Warren
This chapter discusses Alternate Reality Games (ARGs) as simulated experiences, and presents the conceptual framework that informed the design and... Sample PDF
Alternate Reality Games as Simulations
Chapter 19
Caitlin Kelleher
Self-directed, open-ended projects can enable students to pursue their own interests and lead to deep learning. However, it can be difficult to... Sample PDF
Supporting Open-Ended Programming Assignments
Chapter 20
Kay Kyeongju Seo, Aimee Byk, Chris Collins
How can one bring cognitive apprenticeship into the virtual world? This chapter addresses how to construct a 3D online digital environment that... Sample PDF
Cognitive Apprenticeship Inspired Simulations
Chapter 21
Jae Yeob Jung, Hyung Sung Park
The purpose of this chapter is to explore how learning, by making games, can provide opportunities for higher-order thinking such as problem... Sample PDF
Learning by Doing via Game Making
Chapter 22
Christian Sebastian Loh, Jae Hwan Byun
Game Modification, or Modding, is a unique and valuable way of learning with digital games as well as a means to earn beginners’ stripes in the game... Sample PDF
Modding Neverwinter Nights Into Serious Games
Chapter 23
Teresa Franklin, David Chelberg, Chang Liu
Virtual environments are a topic of discussion for many in the business and commerce fields. However, K-12 school systems have been slow to embrace... Sample PDF
Changing Middle School Science through STEAM
Chapter 24
David Gibson
This chapter discusses how a teaching simulation can embody core characteristics of a complex system. It employs examples of specific frameworks and... Sample PDF
Complex Systems Concepts in Simulations
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