Week 6: Reflection

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.

One thought on “Week 6: Reflection

  1. For some reason your comment hasn’t posted for me to approve yet, not sure why. The game you’re describing reminds me of the computer game “Tank” — did you ever play? You were able to determine trajectory, mass and load of the ammunition, and had to take into account wind direction and speed as you aimed your tank’s guns to take out the tank opposite you. Loved that game. =)

    To your comment that math simulations would be nice, I’m going to say something to you that someone said to me a long time ago and it, quite literally, changed my career path. If this is something you’re really passionate about, why don’t you develop these simulations? Plenty of entities, such as the Gates and Hewlett Foundations, offer educators funding for innovative projects. If it’s something you’re really passionate about, put together a team (perhaps working with university faculty and designers or reaching out to the OER community for assistance) and make it happen. I never would have imagined that I would have the opportunity to work for the National Archives, training thousands of teachers every year on how to locate and use primary sources in their classrooms, when I complained to a department head that good resources weren’t available and she responded by telling me to, “do something about it.” I never would have imagined, and yet…it happened. (And now I’m working on a PhD and dissertation to test the efficacy of those programs so I can, eventually, go back to doing it and affect more change).

    Never underestimate your ability to affect change if you’re truly passionate about doing something for your students and for education.


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