Essential question: How are games providing new opportunities for differentiation in the classroom?
There are so many opportunities to utilize games in education. I think one of the most promising areas is serious games, in particular, simulations. Heather’s blog mentions using these simulations in the health care profession because there are less dire consequences when mistakes are made in simulated operations or explorations in life sciences. I commented that it would be nice to have someone develop and program simulations for math content. There is a great documentary about math aired a few years ago, The Great Math Mystery. Math is everywhere and if we can tap into this type of pedagogy, I think math education would have more success. The nature of simulation games would be the ability to differentiate and challenge, and most importantly provide failures, and ultimately successes.
I remember one “math game” early in my teaching career. It was some sort of cannon shooting game, very low tech graphics, and simple environment, just a cannon, “wall”, and a castle. The goal was to hit the castle. The castle was level with the cannon at the beginning of the game, but as you progressed, the castle was moved to a hill, then mountain, then you had to deal with wind direction. You had to input an angle setting, velocity setting, and see if your settings hit the castle. This “game” was a great introduction to trajectories and real-life physics properties. This is the type of interdisciplinary math that we need to focus on in math education. I learned more about modeling trajectories with this “simulation” game than I ever could reading about it, or even shooting a real cannon, which is more dangerous and costly!
Virtual reality games would increase the impact of this type of learning in my opinion. We are at this stage of tech improvements that it is possible to dramatically change the face of education in K-12 and beyond. We just need people to believe in its merits. I am lucky to be in advanced age to see the improvements in education and the advancements in technology.