Gaming With Learning Design

As mentioned in my previous blog post I will be writing a mini-lit review each weekend on the papers that I have read that week. This week I turned my attention to gamification. The purpose of this interest is through reviewing papers on learning design whilst on holiday (weekly posts about those over the forthcoming weeks) with the focus for me being on the thought process of the potential design of learning journeys and motivation in informal learning, gamification became a field of interest. Over the years I have observed how players move through levels, and keep playing for hours and days at an end, but why? What’s the hook? And how can I transfer that to learning design in informal learning journeys to increase motivation?

Review

One of the biggest challenges in informal learning is motivation. Why is it that students undertaking formal qualifications are focused to completion, and informal learners aren’t as much? Granted there is a student drop out rate in formal higher education, but it seems not at the rate as to that of informal learners. So what motivates the student to complete where the informal learner does not? To complete, both student and learner must be motivated, but can the only motivations to learning and completion of study be a qualification in the form of letters and a certificate and the cost of formal tuition driving the student to completion? How and why is an informal learner motivated and through sound learning design can the pedagogy of an informal course aid or encourage this?

Most recently there has been growing research in the field of gamification. Previously thought largely as ‘play’ for children, a number of observations has led to the development of study in this field with the view to improving education (e.g. Emery & Enger 1972; Martin 1979; Perrone et al 1996; Squire 2002; Verenikina & Herrington 2009), with the recent explosion in technology and gaming developments there has been a significant increase in the focus of game-based learning (Garris et al 2002; Gros 2007; Pivec 2007; Hong et al 2009).

Cherryholmes (1966) presented findings that role-playing exercises enhance student motivation in comparison to the more traditional learning approaches such as lectures and case studies. Though it didn’t lead to an increase in concept learning it was stated that role-play aided in the retention of material learnt. Cherryholmes went on to state in the same findings that simulations increased the students’ interest in a topic and therefore their learning attitude. Many years later Randel et al. (1992) added that the subject matter must be taken into account when evaluating the effectiveness of using simulations, with the most beneficial being focused on the study of languages and mathematics. Druckman and Ebner (2013) counter Cherryholmes research with their own, stating that concept retention and motivation are enhanced through the use of simulation.

These are in many ways blanket statements. Through the work of Vogel et al (2006) in the conducting of meta-analyses to explore to what context does the use of games and interactive simulations become more or less effective that traditional instruction methods led me to the examine whether this would have a connection with the four types of learning theories developed by Smith (1999) namely; behaviourism, cognitivism, humanism, and constructivism. Though Utopian, it is not possible to only create one type of learning journey as there is not one type of informal learner.

Behaviourisms is based on the three principles; of learning manifested by change in behaviour, that environment shaping behaviour, and contiguity and reinforcement being crucial to the explanation of the learning process (Grippen & Peters 1983; Schlechter 1991; Watson 1997). Cognitivism advocate that involved thinking is required in addition to simulation and reinforcement (Moore & Fitz 1993), and built on the three principles of; attribution theory (Weiner 1974) in the explanation of the world to determine cause to events or behaviour, elaboration theory (Reigeluth 1983) grading learning from simple to complex, and theory of conditional learning (Gagne 1965) stipulating several different levels of learning requiring different types of instruction. Humanism concentrates on the freedom, value, dignity and potential of people (Combs 1981) with learning being student centred and the educator in the role as facilitator. Finally, constructivism believes learning to be an active process with learners in the role of information constructors creating their own representations of their reality (Bednar et al 1995).

What can be drawn from this is that motivation to learn is not a ‘one size fits all’ issue that can be resolved by a singular template to informal learning design. Though it won’t be possible in the time frame of my doctorate to explore all of the possibilities of what each of those learning designs could represent, it is possible to research as to the motivations of informal learners to ascertain what type of learning design could be potentially created in the future.

References

Bednar, A.K., Cunningham, D., Duffy, R.M., & Perry, J.D. (1995) Theory into practice: how do we think? In Instructional Technology: Past, Present, and Future (ed. G.J. Anglin), pp. 100-112. Libraries Unlimited, Inc., Englewood, CO.

Cherryholmes, C. (1966). Some current research on effectiveness of educational simulation games: A synthesis of findings. Simulation and Games 12(3): 307-332

Combs, A.W. (1981) Humanistic education: too tender for a tough world? The Phi Delta Kappan. 62, 446-449

de Freitas, S. & Routledge, H. (2013). Designing leadership and soft skills in educational games: The e-leadership and soft skills educational games design model (ELESS), British Journal of Educational Technology Vol 44 No 6 2013 951-968. British Educational Research Association.

Druckman, D. & Ebner, N. (2013). Games, Claims, and New Frames: Rethinking the Use of Simulation in Negotiation Education. Negotiation Journal January 2013

Emery, E.D., & Enger, T.P (1972) Computer gaming and learning in an introductory economics course. The Journal of Economic Education. 3, 77-85

Feng, C-Y., & Chen, M-P. (2013). The effects of goal specificity and scaffolding on programming performance and self regulation in game design. British Journal of Educational Technology Vol 45 No 2 2014 285-302. British Educational Research Association.

Gange, R. (1965) The Conditions of Learning. Holt, Rinehart and Winston, New York, NY.

Garris, R., Ahlers, R. & Driskell, J.E. (2002) Games, motivation, and learning; a research and practice model. Simulation and Gaming. 33, 441-467

Geippin, P. & Peters, S. (1983) Learning Theory and Learning Outcomes: The Connection. University Press of America, Inc., Lanham, MD.

Gros, B. (2007) Digital games in education: the design of games-based learning environments. Journal of Research on Technology in Education. 40, 23-38

Hong, J-C., Cheng, C-L., Hwang, M-Y., Lee, C-K., & Chang, H-Y. (2009) Assessing the educational values of digital games. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning. 25, 423-437

Li, Z-Z., Cheng, Y-B., & Liu, C-C. (2012). A constructionism framework for designing game-like learning systems: Its effect on different learners. British Journal of Educational Technology Vol 44 No 2 2013 208-224

Martin, D.S. (1979) Five simulation games in the social sciences. Simulation Gaming 10, 331-349

Moore, P. & Fitz, C. (1993) Gestalt theory and instructional design. Journal of Technical Writing and Communication. 23, 137-157

Perrone, C., Clark, D. & Repenning A. (1996) WebQuest; substantiating education in edutainment through interactive learning games. Computer Networks and ISDN Systems 28, 1307-1319

Pivec, M. (2007) Editorial: Play and learn: potentials of game-based learning. British Journal of Educational Technology. 38, 387-393

Randel, J.M., Morris, B.A., Wetzel, C.D., & Whitehall, B.V. (1992) The effectiveness of games for educational purposes: A review of recent research. Simulation and Gaming 23(3): 261-276

Reigeluth, C.M. (1983) Instructional Design Theories and Models. Erlbaum Associates, Hillsdale, NJ.

Shlecter, T.M. (1991). Problems and Promises of Computer Based Training. Ablex Publishing Corporation, Norwood, NJ.

Squire, K. (2002) Biohazard Education at the Speed of Fear. MIT/Microsoft, Comparative Media Studies Department, Boston, M.A.

Smith, M.K. (1999) ‘Learning theory’, the encyclopedia of informal education

Verenikina, I. & Herrington, J. (2009) Computer games design and the imaginative play of young children. Paper presented at the 8th International Conference on Interaction Design and Children, Como, Italy.

Vogel, J.J. Vogel, D.S., Canon-Bowers, J., Bowers, C.A., Muse, K. & Wright, M. (2006) Computer gaming and interactive simulation for learning; a meta-analysis. Educational Computing Research. 34, 229-243

Watson, J.B. (1997) Behaviorism. Transaction Publishers, New Brunswick, NJ.

Weiner, B. (1974) Achievement Motivation and Attribution Theory. General Learning Press, Morristown, NJ.

Wu, W-H., Hsiao, H-C., Wu, P-L., Lin, C-H., & Huang, S-H. (2011). Investigating the learning-theory foundations of game-based learning: a meta analysis. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning (2012), 28, 265-279. Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

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2 thoughts on “Gaming With Learning Design”

  1. How would you define gamification (always define your terms)? There are different approaches to using play and games in education – some more convincing than others. Which come under the heading of gamification?
    James Paul Gee’s work is very useful in this context. If you’re fed up with reading, take a look at this video http://vimeo.com/10793931
    If you’d rather stick with reading, and you want to write a very long list of notes, try
    Gee, James Paul. (2003). What Video Games Have To Teach Us about Learning and Literacy. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
    In your thesis you will need to decide between different theories of learning. Which convinces you the most, in the context of informal learning journeys – and why? Which ones do you see being deployed in MOOC environments? You will also need to take into account connectivism and critiques of connectivism
    Siemens, George. (2004). Connectivism: A learning theory for the digital age. elearnspace. http://www.elearnspace.org/Articles/connectivism.htm

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