The Use of Electronic Games in Distance Learning as a Tool for Teaching and Learning

The Use of Electronic Games in Distance Learning as a Tool for Teaching and Learning

Muhammet Demirbilek (Suleyman Demirel University, Turkey)
Copyright: © 2009 |Pages: 15
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-198-8.ch327
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Abstract

Playing game is the basic nature of human beings. Though the concept of learning through game is not a new one, it is generally acknowledged that the earliest educational games and simulations were usually war games (Gredler, 1996). Although electronic games have a very short history, they remain a vital force in entertainment. The earliest electronic game called Spacewar, was developed by a young graduate student named Steve Russell in 1961 on a PDP-11 computer at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Herz, 2001). The Spacewar computer game is generally recognized as the first of the “shoot-’em’ up” game genre. Video games were introduced as a commercial entertainment medium in the early 1980’s. The popularity of electronic games specially increased in entertainment sector during the 1990s, due to fast diffusion of the personal computers all over the world.
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Introduction

Playing game is the basic nature of human beings. Though the concept of learning through game is not a new one, it is generally acknowledged that the earliest educational games and simulations were usually war games (Gredler, 1996). Although electronic games have a very short history, they remain a vital force in entertainment. The earliest electronic game called Spacewar, was developed by a young graduate student named Steve Russell in 1961 on a PDP-11 computer at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Herz, 2001). The Spacewar computer game is generally recognized as the first of the “shoot-’em’ up” game genre. Video games were introduced as a commercial entertainment medium in the early 1980’s. The popularity of electronic games specially increased in entertainment sector during the 1990s, due to fast diffusion of the personal computers all over the world.

Electronic games are rapidly emerging products, changing the way we play, think, and learn. They are more than just kids’ toys. Electronic games offer extraordinary opportunities to transform when, where, and how instructors might create new and more powerful ways to teach in schools, communities, and workplaces. While new information and communication technologies are exciting developments in distance education, the potential of electronic gaming in distance education as a tool for teaching and learning has not been fully aware of by educators. However, recent studies show that electronic games are widely used as an educational tool in schools and becoming more a part of students’ and adults’ social lives. There is a tendency for people to spend a growing amount of time playing games, which plays a compensatory role whenever there is a lack of stimulation and challenge (Eglesz, Fekete, Kiss, & Izsó, 2005).

Growing use of the Internet and computers by educators and students around the world has been rapidly growing. The introduction of both the Internet and computers has vastly changed education. But the value of computers increases dramatically when they are connected to each other. The Internet and computers are more suitable for educational use of electronic based gaming. However, the potential for electronic games to be valuable learning tools in distance teaching and learning still has not been fully met. Many teachers now look at electronic games as an opportunity to improve outcomes of teaching by seizing the intrinsic motivational aspects of electronic gaming.

Recently, educators have become increasingly interested in the potential of games as teaching and learning tools. Therefore, the purpose of this study is to provide guidance to distance educators searching for ways to use the electronic games more effectively in their practice and give an overview of pedagogical approaches to electronics games in distance teaching and learning. Furthermore, a comprehensive review of research literature on electronic games, basic definitions, and genres of electronic games are provided.

There are different forms of games in terms of the technology used to play games and the number of players. Table 1 shows the game forms. The last two decades have witnessed that information and communication technologies have made a significant impact on development of electronic games. The term “electronic game” in this article refers to computer based games.

Table 1.
Games Forms
Games
Electronic GamesNon-Electronic Games
Computer (PC) Games
Mobile Games
Massively Multiplayer Online Games
Video Games
Card Games
Board Games
Role Playing Games
Etc.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Game-Based Learning: A branch of serious games that deals with applications that have defined learning outcomes”

Learning: The process of acquiring relatively permanent change in understanding attitude, knowledge, information, and skill through experience (Wittrock, 1977, p. ix).

Edutainment (also educational entertainment or entertainment-education): A form of entertainment designed to educate as well as to amuse.

Online Game: Any electronic-based game played over the Internet including PC, and wireless pocket PC, console

Play: “something one chooses to do as a source of pleasure, which is intensely and utterly absorbing and promotes the formation of social groupings” (Prensky 2001, p. 112).

Fun: defines as “in the sense of enjoyment and pleasure, puts us in a relaxed receptive frame of mind for learning. In addition to provide pleasure, play increases learners’ involvement, which also help them learn” (Prensky, 2001 p. 117).

Video Game: An electronic or computerized game played by manipulating images on a video display or television screen (answers.com, 2007)

Game: An activity with a goal and rules, in which the learner competes against others, real or imaginary, or to better their own, previous attainments.

A Mobile Game: Any digital-based game played over mobile phones, handhelds, pocket PC and similar gadgets.

Distance Education: An institution-based, formal education where the learning group is separated, and where interactive telecommunications systems are used to connect learners, resources, and instructors (Simonson et al, 2003)

E-Learning: refers to computer-enhanced learning, computer-based learning, interactive technology, and commonly, distance learning (Hodson et al., 2001; en.wikipedia.org, 2007).

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