- What, exactly, does Gee claim about the role of games in classroom instruction? And how does learning-with-games occur?
Gee explains that video games are more or less a set of problems that need to be solved in order to win. In our classrooms, we should be teaching the students the same way. The students need to learn to be problem solvers and be given the time and opportunity to solve the problems at hand. This isn't easy in the current system of test-based learning, but needs to be the direction in which education moves.
Learning in video games is much different than classroom learning. In the video, Gee gives the example of an algebra class. At the end of the algebra unit, it would be logical that the student would be tested on the information to gauge their understanding of the concepts. In a game, however, we would never think to test a student over a game. If they have spent hours working at it and completed it successfully, that would be proof enough of an understanding of the concept. No test would be needed.
- Are these views supported by the theories discussed in the previous sections of this module? Discuss this, referring to specific areas of overlap (or any disconnect if you see it) from some of the readings or notes on learning theory (use some specific references if you feel they apply).
I feel like video games tie in well to the cognitive theories of information processing and cognitive constructivism. In a video game the students are required to learn specific knowledge in order to beat the game. This can be new information, or could be based on prior knowledge learned from other games, or even other parts of the current game. This includes learning specific facts, skills, and concepts in order to be successful, and may sometimes include changing and restructuring this knowledge in order to adapt to the changes presented in the game. Information processing and cognitive constructivism theories assume that learning occurs through applying skills and strategies to prior knowledge, a vital element to consider when playing a video game. One needs to be able to learn from the game and use what is learned to move farther towards completion. Depending upon the game, the player can be instructed in several ways. Many times, games start with an information processing approach in order to teach a player how to use the game. This might include a tutorial at the beginning, or hints that pop up from time to time while starting the game. In more complex games, the player must be a more active thinker and be able to make sense of the game for him or herself.
I also believe these ideas fit very well with the idea of project based learning. In video games, the students are presented with problems and must learn skills in order to overcome the problem. In project based learning, the students are doing the exact same thing! As educators, we need to find ways to morph our teaching from lectures into hands-on, problem solving experiences.