Examining the Characteristics of Digital Learning Games Designed by In-service Teachers

Examining the Characteristics of Digital Learning Games Designed by In-service Teachers

Yun-Jo An (University of West Georgia, Carrollton, Georgia) and Li Cao (University of West Georgia, Carrollton, Georgia)
Copyright: © 2017 |Pages: 13
DOI: 10.4018/IJGBL.2017100104
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Abstract

In order to better understand teachers' perspectives on the design and development of digital game-based learning environments, this study examined the characteristics of digital learning games designed by teachers. In addition, this study explored how game design and peer critique activities influenced their perceptions of digital game-based learning environments and learning through game design. Qualitative data were collected from fifty game design documents and participant responses to reflection questions. The analysis of game design documents showed that the majority of the participants designed immersive game-based learning environments where players are required to use higher order thinking and real-world skills as well as academic content to complete missions or solve problems. The results of this study provide important implications for teacher professional development as well as for educational game development.
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Introduction

Well-designed digital game-based learning environments have the potential to provide students with situated learning experiences and foster real world skills (An & Bonk, 2009; Gee, 2005; Shaffer et al., 2005). Despite the increasing number of teachers using digital games in the classroom, many teachers still do not seem to fully understand the educational potential of digital games (Gaudelli & Taylor, 2011; Schrader, Zheng, & Young, 2006). The national survey conducted by the Joan Ganz Cooney Center revealed that most game-using teachers were using shorter-form genres, such as drill-and-practice, trivia, and puzzle games. Few teachers reported using immersive games (e.g., adventure, role playing games) (Takeuchi & Vaala, 2014). However, it does not necessarily mean that teachers prefer shorter-form genres to immersive games. As noted in the report by Takeuchi and Vaala (2014), there is still a paucity of immersive games that are suitable for classroom use. Sancar Tokmak and Ozgelen (2013) also found that most games available to teachers today require students to have pre-knowledge to play and prevent teachers from developing game-based lessons based on a constructivist philosophy.

What types of digital learning games would teachers prefer to use if they had choices? It is critical to understand teachers’ preferences, expectations, and needs in order to create games that can be effectively implemented in the classroom. Examining teachers’ game design would help understand their perspectives and needs related to game-based learning. In order to better understand teachers’ perspectives on the design and development of digital game-based learning environments, this study examined the characteristics of digital learning games designed by teachers. In addition, this study explored how game design and peer critique activities influenced their perceptions of digital game-based learning environments and learning through game design.

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