What is the influence of digital gaming technologies on the teaching and learning process?

With the marked increase in the use and availability of digital technologies and the development of a high digital gaming culture amongst young people (Chik, 2011), the question can be asked as to what influence does digital gaming technologies have on the teaching and learning process?

Ito, Horst, Bittanti, Boyd, Herr-Stephenson, Lange & Robinson (2008) state that the use of social networking, gaming and mobile technologies are well entrenched in modern society (p.1). The common usage of digital technologies has increased exponentially and is now becoming a resource more widely used in the education sector (Klopfer, Osterweil, Groff & Haas, 2009, p1). Klopfer et al, state that students are using new technologies in multiple ways to extend their learning, through creativity and communication, developing learning behaviours needed for a 21st century life application (2009, 1).

In regards to the influence of digital technologies and gaming on teaching and learning, four key areas were identified in the research. Firstly, digital gaming, social networking and mobile technologies can be an aid to construct meaning through social interaction through communicating, collaborating and reflecting on learning practices that support concepts of play in childhood development (Gee, 2008, p.23; Klopfer et al, 2009, p.1).

Secondly, the global issue of promoting, designing and implementing authentic learning situations is another major issue outlined through the literature. By promoting cognitive theories of development, learners are able to engage in social practices of collaboration to construct meaning, develop theories, test interpretations and receive timely feedback through the use of digital gaming technologies.

A third key issue relates to decisions made about pedagogical practice, that is, issues for assessment, curriculum development and teacher instruction. The final issue of the influence of digital gaming technologies into the teaching and learning process is at an individual teacher, whole school and governing policy level. Research agrees that it is imperative for educational environments to be proactive in fostering an environment that is conducive to learning by using pedagogical practices that assist the engagement of learners (Chee, 2011, p.103).

References

Chee, Y. S. (2011). Learning as becoming through performance, play, and dialogue: A model of game-base learning with the game Legends of Alkhimia. Digital Culture & Education, 3(2), 98-122.

Chik, A. (2011). Learner autonomy development through digital gameplay. Digital Culture & Education, 3(1), 30-45.

Gee, J. P. (2008). “Learning and Games." The Ecology of Games: Connecting Youth, Games, and Learning., 21-40. doi: 10.1162/dmal.9780262693646.021

Ito, M., Horst, H., Bittanti, M., Boyd, D., Herr-Stephenson, B., Lange, P. G., & Robinson, L. (2008). Living and Learning with New Media: Summary of Findings from the Digital Youth Project The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Reports on Digital Media and Learning 1-121.

Klopfer, E., Osterweil, S., Groff, J., & Haas, J. (2009). Using the technology of today, in the classroom today: The instructional power of digital games, social networking, simulations and how teachers can leverage them. Massachusetts Institute of Technology: The Education Arcade.


PROFESSIONAL RESOURCE

The purpose for this professional resource is to provide teachers with a catalogue of digital games that can be incorporated meaningfully into the classroom with the main objective of promoting learning. The resource is formed in two parts. Firstly, a research report outlining the trial of the professional resource and recommendations for teachers based on the feedback provided. Secondly, a collaborative wikispace for teaching staff at Livingstone Christian College, my workplace, to continue researching and sharing digital games and how they could be integrated in the teaching and learning process.

Research suggests that many classroom teachers are heavily reliant on print-based materials and are teacher-centric in their pedagogical styles (Dodge et al., 2008, p. 227). This resource has been prepared to be an aid for teachers who may be inexperienced or unfamiliar in using digital games to promote learning.

While many educators may be conversant with using learning-oriented games as a classroom activity, this resource has been categorised to provide examples of digital games at the Early, Middle and Senior Phases of Learning that include both simulation games and virtual environments. By interacting with these forms of digital games, students can become active and collaborative learners of real-world concepts in a safe and controlled environment (Hensgens, Rosmalen, & Baaren, 1995, p. 270; "Serious Games," 2007).

Recommendations were made to the teaching staff in regards to their findings. Firstly, in order to promote the use of digital gaming as a valid learning experience, teachers need to be sufficiently resourced with equipment and professional development (Dwyer, 2007, p. 99). This professional development should be tailored more how to influence and transform pedagogy rather than the technical issues of using games.

Teachers should also be deliberate in their game selection, be aware of the learning that is involved and spend time ‘playing’ (Sanford, Ulicsak, Facer, & Rudd, 2007, p. 52).

The professional resource, although originally paper based, quickly adapted to the needs of the teachers through exploration and trial, and consequently a wiki has been established for the staff to continue sharing their findings.

References

Dodge, T., Barab, S., Stuckey, B., Warren, S., Heiselt, C., & Stein, R. (2008). Children’s Sense of Self: Learning and Meaning in the Digital Age. Journal of Interactive Learning Research, 19(2), 225 - 249.
Dwyer, J. (2007). Computer-Based Learning in a Primary School: Differences between the Early and Later Years of Primary Schooling. Asia-Pacific Journal of Teacher Education, 35(1), 89-103. doi: 10.1080/13598660601111307
Hensgens, J., Rosmalen, P., & Baaren, J. (1995). Authoring for simulation-based learning. Instructional Science, 23(4), 269-296. doi: 10.1007/bf00890273
Sanford, R., Ulicsak, M., Facer, K., & Rudd, T. (2007). Teaching with Games: Using commercial off-the-shelf computer games in formal education. Bristol, UK: NESTA Futurelab.
. Serious Games. (2007, August 15, 2011). Innovating with Technology, from http://www.education.vic.gov.au/researchinnovation/technology/grantgames.htm