Finding and Evaluating Great Educational Games

Finding and Evaluating Great Educational Games

Elisa Gopin (Lifelong Learner, Israel)
Copyright: © 2014 |Pages: 15
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-4538-7.ch005
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Digital games are increasingly being used as educational tools. They are intrinsically motivating for many students and offer a natural learning environment. However, not all games are equally effective in the classroom and there is thus a need for frameworks to guide teachers so that learning goals are aligned with a game’s goals and to determine whether or not the game design supports effective learning. This chapter offers an analysis framework that can be used by classroom teachers to understand the different ways that games can support learning and to critique specific games to determine whether or not they meet the learning requirements. The chapter includes a checklist for teachers, as well as a feedback form for students who playtest games for use in the classroom.
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Overview Of Framework

The analysis framework proposed in this chapter is built on three parts: Setting learning goals, identifying strategies that support motivation and make games fun, and identifying strategies that support learning.

1. Define Instructional Goals

As with any learning task, learning outcomes can vary widely depending on the game designer’s goals (Warren & Najmi, 2013). Also, teachers can use games in different ways in order to achieve distinct learning goals. For example, Angry Birds can be used to analyze trajectories in a Physics class, or to analyze hit-to-miss ratios in a Math class. The first step should always be to identify the desired learning goals for a specific game - what skills or knowledge should players gain by playing the game? A good way to think about this is in terms of Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy, which presents a hierarchy of skills that correlate to different levels of learning. This hierarchy consists of 6 levels:

  • Remembering

  • Understanding

  • Applying

  • Analyzing

  • Evaluating

  • Creating

Different games will address different levels of the taxonomy - identify which level is being targeted with the gameplay.

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