Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Gaming in Education

I really enjoyed our discussion on gaming in education yesterday.  One of the things that I found interesting were the comments that were made regarding "hiding the learning" from the learner.  I can see how a game that feels like school would be a complete turn off (and not much of a game at all).  So, designing a learning experience that feels like a game seems critical.  One of the questions that this raised in my mind, however, was how "hiding the learning" impacts transfer and retention of learning.  And, maybe the deeper question is can we learn something without being aware that we have learned?  I don't have good answers to those questions; it is something that I need to spend some more time thinking about.  

Yesterday's discussion also brought to mind a book that I read a couple of years ago (Flow, Mihaly Csikzentmihalyi).  In Flow, the author talks about the "psychology of optimal experience" and how when we are in one of these "flow" experiences we become completely immersed in the activity, time seems to stop, and we experience pure satisfaction and fulfillment.  He then talks about the conditions necessary to achieving this type of experience.  I think that a lot of the things that he shared in his book apply to instructional design and are the same things we see in gaming experiences that make them so engaging (e.g. clear goals/outcome, feedback that lets the participant know how they are doing, challenge equal to the participants ability, etc.).  

I think that Dr. Graham's question about learning/work being intrinsically motivating has a relationship to this concept of "flow".  I don't know that all work or learning is instrinsically motivating but I do think that certain conditions can lead to learning/work experiences that are.  I think that when the Doctrine Covenants talks about instances when "he that preacheth and he that receiveth understand one another, and both are edified and rejoice together" it is referring to these types of learning experiences.  So, I think the big question that we should be asking ourselves as designers is "how do we create these types of learning experiences?"  because I don't think that all learning or work is "created equal".   

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