With the advancement of electronic devices gaming on these devices are increasing. There are many different types of games on different platforms and devices. There are games aimed at the casual gamer to games for the very serious gamer. Games vary in the continuum of collaboration from no collaboration in single player games to very collaborative games such as MMOs (massive multiplayer online) games, i.e. World of Warcraft. Gamers across the world spend/waste/invest (depending on your view) billions of hours weekly playing in the virtual worlds trying to solve a mission, complete a task, or WIN! These gamers enjoy playing the games so much that they do not even realize many times how much time is passed. And gamers all have the same goal: to be successful at the task.
Recently on TED.com, Jane McGonigal (Twitter page), a game designer, recently presented a talk of how Gaming can make a better world. In it she talks about the emotions that gaming does and does NOT produce. She also wants to develop away to take the emotions real people have while seriously playing collaborative games and apply them to the real world. Her them seems to be: if the energy, emotion, and sticktuitiveness of gamers in the virtual world could be applied to real world, real life issues and events, then the world could be a better place. You can view the video below.
Now apply that to education. Ms. McGonigal points out in the video that the average gamer in a strong gaming culture will have logged 10,000 hours or more by the age of 21. She states that is approximately the amount of face time teachers will have with students from 5th grade till high school graduation in the United States. During that time frame adolescent gamers are spending almost the same amount of time playing video games. Imagine if educators could tap into that extra time.
The University of South Florida (USF) is trying to do just that. How can educators harness virtual worlds to educate the k-12 students? USF has created a website of lesson plans, resources, and case studies related to education and gaming platforms. You can find these resources on the USF website. http://www.coedu.usf.edu/we/. The project is called Worlds of Education and it focuses on using virtual worlds to enhance or distribute education. The two gaming environments primarily used in the project are the World of Warcraft game by Blizzard and SecondLife. The website also has a small but growing resource of lesson plans grouped by subject area.
Should gaming be used in education?