Game Based Learning (GBL) #INF541 mirrored the world of digital games where, like game players, I was challenged, engaged, motivated, pleasantly (or not) frustrated and continued to use exploration and lateral thinking to reconceive my understandings (Gee, 2005). As with online games, there was my first immersion into the world of digital games such as Lara Croft and the multiplayer, Ingress (GBL learning journal, 24 March 2016).
Reflections for a Digital Age reveals the journey taken, and the emergence of a deeper understanding of digital games and GBL. My very first blog reflection shows my sense of confusion over ‘what is a game?’ and throughout the course, I often felt as though I was reeling from an overload of information. Connections were inevitably made with readings and to my own professional practice as a teacher librarian.
It was interesting to read back over my personal aims within the first blog assessment task which I still consider ongoing. My first goal to become personally familiar with online multiplayer games was initiated when I explored Ingress (as noted above). However, the depth and scope of INF541 did not allow time for a lot of personal exploration of game play. Digital games and GBL was incorporated into my teaching practice in small, achievable ways and which I critically reflect upon within the chapter compendium. My third aim, did not end up being a focus, beyond exploring case studies within published research.
My own professional teaching and school library context brought the worlds of meta-literacy and game based learning together. Notably, I am drawn to look at GBL through the six elements of the Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education (2015) to critically reflect on how my views, knowledge and understandings of GBL have developed.
Authority is constructed and contextual – Both my students, in the Compendium case study, and myself found ourselves critically reflecting on authority and expertise as they learnt about web evaluation, and I explored GBL. My own understandings of how the elements of digital games and GBL can be used within the classroom was reaffirmed observing ‘the game in play’ of the Year 5 cohort. It really did allow me to make the triangular connection between the critical course readings, my own blog reflections on the characteristics of digital games and the case study.
The power of reflection was brought home to me too, with student voices about the benefits of a participatory, collaborative, social learning environment:
Yes I was given tips by my friends which helped a lot, especially in the web evaluation game.
Yes. It was very helpful to work with a friend because they help me when I was stuck and worked together to figer out.
I found that talking and working in a group is a good way to efficiently work through the activities.
I talked with my friends during the activity and it really helped me to understand the activity, since we were doing it together
Searching as strategic exploration is something that as a teacher librarian, I really want my students to understand – that searching for information is often nonlinear and iterative, and that we need the mental flexibility to pursue alternate avenues as new understanding develops. This sense of strategic exploration is also part of “metagaming” (discussed more below). The coursework and my own searching for information explored alternate resources and multiple perspectives such as watching popular commentary of online games e.g. Extra Credits (one of my favourites) and going beyond journal articles to listen to researchers in the field of DGBL.
Information creation as a process – The different contexts and information needs of game players determines how digital games are designed, created and used. So, within education, Minecraft and other online games may be adapted to achieve learning outcomes, and students themselves can become involved in the creative process of ‘game making’. One particular author who caught my attention was Jordan Shapiro explaining why we need video games in every classroom.
Information has value and my progress throughout INF541 has moved me beyond consumption of information to participate as a contributor, with the public posting of the Compendium chapter within the digital environment. The significance of the participatory nature of digital games and GBL is perhaps one of my deeper understandings gained from the course, and one that will impact my own teaching practice – to work toward a more facilitative and interactive role and continuing to incorporate digital games within my school library program.
I engaged in Research as Inquiry and Scholarship as conversation. INF541 provided a community to share sustained discourse. It gave me greater insight into Gee’s “metagaming” where rich learning activities happen beyond the game (Kafai & Burke, 2015, p. 314), which I see within the online discussion forum and Webinair chats. Twitter, in particular, was a fantastic participatory tool to build community, share conversation and resources with colleagues and our course coordinators, and beyond into the global community. I engaged in collaborative feedback with two colleagues regarding our Chapters, looking with ‘fresh eyes’ (thanks Madeleine and Chris) to pick up those ‘nitty gritty’ grammatical, referencing errors and to affirm the shape and directions of our Chapters. Finally, what I particularly understood too, was that DGBL is an ongoing scholarly conversation. The field has evolved so quickly, and will continue to. It has been a fascinating conversation!
Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL). (2015). Framework for information literacy for higher education. Retrieved from http://www.ala.org/acrl/standards/ilframework
Gee, J.P. (2005). Good video games and good learning. Phi Kappa Phi Forum, 85(2), 33-37. Retrieved from http://dmlcentral.net/sites/dmlcentral/files/resource_files/GoodVideoGamesLearning.pdf
Kafai, Y.B. & Burke, Q. (2015). Constructionist gaming: understanding the benefits of making games for learning, Educational Psychologist, 50(4). DOI: 10.1080/00461520.2015.1124022
Shapiro, J. (2014, March 19). Here’s why we need video games in every classroom. Forbes. http://www.forbes.com/sites/jordanshapiro/2014/03/19/heres-why-we-need-video-games-in-every-classroom/#56d8ab2830d3