Pondering higher ed and the future

Scholarly Critique #6

sc 6

       According to Rani Kanthan and Jenna-Lynn Senger, “the ultimate success of digital games as a medium for learning will depend on their adoption and implementation by teachers. (p. 141 2011)”

sc 5The article I selected this week was based on my desire to read about how games and learning ties into higher education.  While participating in #MinecraftEdu chats on a weekly basis, I am constantly wondering how this type of learning translates to older individuals.

sc 4This morning I watched President Bruce Benson of the University of Colorado (CU) talk about the future of this institution.  -If anyone is interested in watching it, it was live on Facebook this morning.  The discussion, in regards to new programs, included the introduction and expansion of MOOC’s.   Soon, they will be used as credit granting classes, more than just the certificate programs that they are now.  The hope is to increase revenue (isn’t it always?).  I am all for it, but how do games and the use of technology fit into “our” future?

sc 2This study, although small in scale, analyzed midterm and final grades with first and second year under-graduate medical students in Canada.  Supplemental optional games were provided in addition to their course work.  A satisfaction survey immediately went out to determine their engagement and their feeling about the digital games after both the midterm and final exams.  What made these games unique was they were for both individual and group learning.  This would engage an even wider group of students than just choosing one or the other.  By capturing the interest of students working alone and in groups, there was more likely reliable data.

sc 1The authors of this article, succeeded at finding positive results when using games to learn. They also were able to find improved student satisfaction (based on the self-evaluation questioner).  This topic has been widely studied but pin pointing why these results occurred is more difficult to conclude.  It cannot be determined that the gaming was responsible for the improved academic performance.  There are external factors that could have been prevalent.  Also, when it comes to completing yes/no questioners, there is a certain degree of fuzzy area.  People’s opinions are subjective and at the end of the study, this is still just one piece of the puzzle.

If I were to design this game, I would attempt the make the self-evaluation questioner more robust.  Answering yes/no questions can only give you black and white answers.  I would encourage more open feedback.  I am surprised with such a small population surveyed, that the questions did not contain more options.  Expanding the survey could provide a clearer picture of the student’s perceived learning.

sc 3Based on the article highlighting the potential of supplementary game additions, I still wonder how CU plans to use technology (and specifically games) into the classroom.  I appreciate the mention of MOOC’s but I want to see a more concrete idea of its plans at the student level.  For an insider’s perspective, I know that CU has been trying to find ways to expand its online program to coincide with higher education trends.  I have not aside from the talk about MOOC’s recently, heard much about this push.  Time will tell where the University of Colorado will take us.

Works Cited

 

The Impact of Specially Designed Digital Games-Based Learning in Undergraduate Pathology and Medical Education  Rani Kanthan and Jenna-Lynn Senger; Archives of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine 2011 135:1, 135-142

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