Groups, Games & Community

Groups, Games & Community

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-543-8.ch012
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Abstract

Games are being used to develop environments that promote learning. The tremendous strides made in game design and gaming technology over the last decade have caused an increased interest in using them for learning. Gaming is becoming more complex and the algorithms used are more advanced. Simulations and strategy games are framed in constructivist principles that rely on co-construction of knowledge and higher level thinking, but can also include drill and practice. Research suggests the benefits of games can impact both the educational and training environments. When engaged in games, players are using complex and multi modal capabilities that are much more challenging than what is traditionally required in formal education.
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Objectives

  • Define “game” as applied to digitally mediated communications.

  • Identify a variety of digitally mediated gaming environments.

  • Discuss cognitive development, disequilibrium and social identity.

  • Discuss the attributes and challenges of games as applied to learning environments.

  • Analyze the learning option such as multi-agent learning, Q-Learning and Hyper Q- Learning and the instructional strategies need to promote learning.

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Introduction

The use of games to foster learning has been a common practice among educators for a long time. Many educators are already using new technologies to create virtual environments to foster learning through simulations and virtual games. Simulations and games have been used extensively by the military for drill and practice activities, but also for developing skills that require hand-eye coordination for teaching pilots and tank operators. Medical schools also rely on simulations to train surgeons how to perform delicate procedures. Games like World War II and Gettysburg among others have infiltrated the schools.

Individuals of all ages across the globe are talking about and playing video games. An entire generation has now grown up immersed in gaming. Definitions of exactly what games really are vary depending on who is doing the defining: educators, business people, anthropologists or social scientists. For the purposes of this chapter a game will be defined as a digital application that can be controlled by individuals using a personal computer, mobile device or a console (Stanford & Williamson, 2005). The expectation is that technology will continue to evolve and redefine gaming both, in definition and in application. The topic of games must be included when discussing cyber education. A new generation of mobile devices makes it possible for learners to access educational games regardless of location. As new and more sophisticated digitally mediated communication tools are developed, cyber educators must remain aware of how the issues of anonymity, authenticity and trust continue to impact learning as discussed in the previous chapters of this manuscript.

The tremendous strides made in game design and gaming technology over the last decade have caused an increased interest in using them for learning. Most obvious are the advances in the technologies that support games and the creation of rich digital worlds with improved 3D sounds and visuals even more significant are the improvement that have been made in the design of games. Interactivity, rich visuals, and audio have continuously enhanced the environment of games since the days of Pac-Man. Games today make use of strategies, simulations, role playing, sports, puzzles, inquiry, problem solving, and adventures. They have gone from single player games to Massively Multi-player Online Games (MMOGs) and Massively Multi-player Online Role Playing Games (MMORPGs) where as many as 100,000 people can be connected at once. These technologies present a great opportunity for cyber educators, yet much research and empirical studies needs to be conducted to how games are and can be used to promote learning (Squire, 2003).

The learning process itself, which is very difficult to define, is often thought of as a combination of skills and cognitive learning outcomes that include procedural, declarative and strategic knowledge as well as attitudes. Procedural knowledge also known as imperative knowledge is knowing how to perform certain tasks. Declarative or descriptive knowledge is knowledge of facts, definitions, rules and procedures. Strategic knowledge is the ability to plan or devise a course of action and carry it out to reach a goal (Eggen & Kauchak, 1999). While there are many other labels applied to identify different types of knowledge, these three are particularly applicable to educational gaming.

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