Monthly Archives: September 2012

Game Based Learning

Video games. Many of us remember playing them. I fondly remember playing Frogger on the Atari and Super Mario Brothers for Nintendo. And even today I use my Wii quite often and my husband enjoys his Xbox. I even has some games on my iPhone.  So then why do we shy away from allowing students to use them in the classroom?  Now I am not saying we should allow the students to play Call of Duty, Assassins Creed, Mortal Combat or Grand Theft Auto in school, but there are games and game devlopement programs that are available to which provide educational merit. 

A study showed that kids on average use media based products 7 hours a day.  That is a full school day! We have to face it that kids today are more technologically savvy, and we must meet adjust our teaching styles to reflect this knowledge.  Pasive learning is no longer effective for the digital generation. We have to begin to add in life experiences. Now I am not saying to change everything about our teaching styles, I am only stating that we need to think how we can impart the knowledge in a way that we challenge their thinking process but prepare them for a modern society, a society were technology is king. 

Video games are a great resource for teachers, because it allows the student to learn without inhibitions.  They are not self conscious about expressing themselves, they are free of any hang-ups that might other wise stop them from participating in a regular class setting, and allows them to make mistakes without running the risk of being singled out.  A well thought out and produced game based learning situation allows the user to enter a virtual environment, where they are engaged and creative, key elements in learning success.  The video game itself creates a safe place for students to learn at a pace that works for them; it allows them to explore, experiment, work together with other members for the class, and develops problem solving skills.  The game based learning industry is become more reputable every year, with gaming companies looking to educators for insight in the developmental stages of the games. 

Here are just a few of the games that are out their for students:

Gazillionaire is the award-winning simulation game where you compete to build a business empire. You must grow your company, maximize profits, corner the market, and outsmart your competitors. Your goal? Become a Gazillionaire. Find out why this is the most popular business strategy game ever!
http://www.gazillionaire.com/index.php

Programming-style puzzle game. Give commands to your robot to light up the factory. Very soon you will realize though that using the main method on it’s own is not enough and you will have to start creating re-usable functions to achieve the ultimate goal. http://www.kongregate.com/games/Coolio_Niato/light-bot

Scratch is a programming language that makes it easy to create interactive art, stories, simulations, and games – and share those creations on-line. http://scratched.media.mit.edu/

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Dear Mr. President–Election Video

With the 2012 presidential election a little over a month away America is going to be inundated with ads, commercials, signs, billboards and more praising the candidates or bashing them.  Needless to say, the TV spot will be the most used form of campaigning but these are always done by the supporters of said candidate.  Well now another voice can take center stage; C-SPAN has developed a contest to get the kids active in the campaign.  Introducing StudentCam.  What is StudentCam you might ask?  Well StudentCam is C-SPAN’s annual national video documentary competition.  It encourages and engages the students to seriously think about the issues affecting their communities and nation.  This year the students are asked to create a short 5-8 minute video documentary, using both C-SPAN videos as well as their own interviews and commentary’s on the chosen topic. This year’s topic is “Message to the President: What is the most important issue the president should consider in 2013.”

This program is perfect for social studies/history classes, as well as video production or creative design classes.  It provides the perfect opportunity for students to work together, and allows for a cross curricular opportunity.  Take a few minutes to check out the program and read through the official rules and conditions.

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