Tag Archives: game based learning

Google Sites gets a +1 from me!

Earlier today (well yesterday as now we are in the wee hours of the morning) I posted a blog about Wikispaces and their new ‘verification’ process. The new process meant the Wikispace I created could only be ‘public’ if I became ‘verified’. As I only have a couple of days to go before my assessment is to be submitted and one of the requirements is a ‘public’ site (in order for my lecturer to be able to mark it), I decided to change where my assessment was to be housed and hoped for a good transition from Wikispaces to Google Sites.

I jumped into the world of Google Sites and created my first wiki inspired site Game Based eLearning Toolkit. There are some cool features in Google Sites, like embedding a Google Calendar, a widget for an Announcement feed (from a particular page of your site), and a little more flexibility on the formatting/layout than with Wiki sites. My only complaint is that it is not easy to embed non-Google products and you are (mostly) forced to use iFrames (that don’t always work in the way I want them to – could be a user issue – needless to say, I didn’t go with iFrames).

Overall though, Google Sites gets a +1 from me! I found it very easy to use and I am sure it has something to do with me being accustomed to Google Docs/Drive that  has very similar navigation/menu traits.

I present to you, my Game Based eLearning Toolkit:


Wikispaces now require $1 for verification? Um…

Wikispaces is advertised as a free service, primarily available for teachers and learners to create wikis where content can be shared and collaborated on in an online environment. Wikispaces was a great service and I have used it for two semesters now, however, they now require “verification” for wikis to be public.

The new verification is said to be due to spam – see their blogpost Taking a Stand Against Spam and costs $1 to be “verified”. In the world wide space, verification is usually in the form of confirming ones email address, so I was interested to know why the $1 fee was being charged. I was happy to pay it, until, the only payment option provided is Google Wallet. There is no Paypal option, nor BPay option or send a cheque (OK so that would be a little outrageous for $1 cheque, but not everyone wants to provide their credit card details online). What’s more, the Google Wallet payment page has no information about who I would be paying, their contact details or what the payment is for. I even had to check that I was logged in to Google as I was concerned I was redirected to a pretend log in page due to the lack of information on the page! In addition, I don’t want to have another online payment service having my credit card details as I already have a PayPal account.

Anyhow, having used Wikispaces for over two semesters now and not having completed any ‘spam’ activities, I would have thought I would be on the verification list that is spoken of in their blog post. A sweep was done of members and some were automatically verified. I was not one of them.

Image: My Wiki for eLearning Technologies in Wikispaces

So here I am. Assessment due in 2 days and I am not able to provide a link to my Wikispace for my lecturer to mark………………you are allowed up to 5 people to view the wiki, but the purpose of mine is to create a toolkit for academic staff members – I think there are more than 4 of them in the world!

Where to now? One of the comments in the Wikispace blogpost Taking a Stand Against Spam was about creating a free Google Site – so here goes…I have two days to move my site and two days to add those last minute things to get a great mark!

Watch this space for Amy’s adventures in creating a Google Site – the following video states I can get started in ‘just a few clicks’ so here goes!

My inspiration…

Squire on Game-Based Learning

There are some key points and quotes from Squire (2008), the primary one is the “…important question is not whether educators can use games to support learning, but how we can use games most effectively as educational tools.” (p. 1).

Squire (2008) discusses the concept of motivation within game-based learning and questions the thought that  “…games create intrinsic motivation through fantasy, control, challenge, curiosity, and competition (Malone 1981; Cordova and Lepper 1996, as cited Squire, 2008, p. 2). Squire (2008) considers the differences in learners and states that “roughly 25% of students in school situations complained that the game was too hard, complicated, and uninteresting, and they elected to withdraw from the gaming unit and participate in reading groups instead” (p. 2).

The practice of game play opposes the constructivist ideology within contemporary pedagogical practice where problems are broken into “bite-sized, easy-to-learn pieces” (p. 3). “Games, on the other hand, present players with complex holistic problems” (Gee 2005, as cited Squire, 2008, p. 3). Games provide a simulated environment where “…for many, gameplay involves social transgression. Games allow us to bend or temporarily dismiss social rules in order to try new ideas and identities” (Squire, 2008, p. 4). The learner is faced with failure (see Squire, 2005, p. 4) in a simulated world and problem solves, acts on feedback and changes paths to overcome the failure.

Similar to other readings this semester, Squire (2008) focuses on the current nature of learning and teaching as being one that is ‘traditional’ and ‘unchanged’ even though the educator and learners have changed. “The real challenge is not so much in bringing games—or any technology—into our schools but rather changing the cultures of our schools to be organized around learning instead of the current form of social control” that was derived from the industrial era (Squire, 2008, p. 5).


Role of Educator and Learner in Game-Based Learning

The Role of the Educator in Game-Based Learning

As Garrison (1997) observes ‘collaboration and constructivist approaches to learning do not happen by simply making the technology available’ (p. 5). The educator plays a critical role in the transition period mapping the curriculum to game-based learning. It is worthwhile to note that the transition must ‘not be merely about moving conventional learning to Internet [game], but about enriching and changing it’ (Lynch, 2001, as cited Teras & Myllyla, 2009, p. 3). Enrichment would be evidenced in the creation of a knowledge-able learning environment (see Wesch, 2012).

The transition period would involve stakeholder management. Supervisors, e-learning support staff and IT support would need to be brought on board early in the process. Student stakeholder management is also essential as they also can create obstacles to implementation should they not see gaming as a learning tool.

During the game based learning sessions, most importantly, educators should provide structured reflection and debriefing to make explicit the knowledge that has been developed (Wagner, 2008) and allow students themselves to acknowledge that game-based strategies can also foster learning (Prensky 2003). Reporting, reflection and evaluation is a key part of the learning process that will be undertaken.

In-game, the educator becomes the lorekeeper (Gillispie and Lawson, 2011). It is anticipated that the educator will also need to participate in peer-based online activities as they can serve as innovative and immersive learning environments in themselves (Ito et al. 2008). As they develop their own expertise, curriculum-centred learning environments can be built, which resemble existing patterns of lessons in the classroom (Mayo, 2009, p. 13).

The educator also needs to share experiences and evangelise to other teachers the benefits to the learner, such as the development of deep understanding and problematic knowledge (see Wood, 2011), thus encouraging integration of game-based learning.

The Role of the Learner in Game-Based Learning

The role of the learner is to be a produser (see Bruns) in a knowledge-able environment (see Wesch, 2012). Participating virtuality through game play and make meaning of those experiences through character interactions. Within the realm of games, there is the opportunity for building identity for interaction and experimentation and for amplification and practice (see  Engenfeldt and Nielson, 2006).

Assessments may include reflections and content creation through a variety of formats, including blogs, video, advertisements, propaganda, media articles, reviews, and Fakebook accounts.

Assessments take the form of quests and may include:

  • comparing and contrasting in-game experiences to curriculum
  • making meaning of game based experiences
  • reflections on identities in online space

In addition to compulsory learning objectives, learners should be permitted enough freedom to decide on strategies and choose their own pathways through a constructivist-style learning environment (Sanchez 2011). The learner becomes the hero (Gillispie and Lawson, 2011).

Learners should also experience failure but without serious consequences and be given constructive feedback to encourage them to keep trying (Sanchez 2011; Squire 2008). It is through alternative courses of action the learner is able to experience consequences (Mason and Rennie, 2008, p. 110).


Bruns, A., 2008. The Future is User-Led: The Path towards Widespread Produsage, The Fibreculture Journal. Available at: http://eleven.fibreculturejournal.org/fcj-066-the-future-is-user-led-the-path-towards-widespread-produsage/

Egenfeldt-Nielsen, S., 2006. Overview of research on the educational use of video games, Nordic Journal of Digital Literacy, [online] Available at: <http://www.idunn.no/ts/dk/2006/03/overview_of_research_on_the_educationaluseof_video_games>

Garrison, D. R., 1997. Computer conferencing: the post-industrial age of distance education. Open learning, Vol. 12(2), pp. 3-11.

Gillispie, L., and Lawson, C., 2011. WoWinSchool: A Hero’s Journey. Available at: http://wowinschool.pbworks.com/f/WoWinSchool-A-Heros-Journey.pdf

Ito, M, Horst, H., Bittanti, M., Boyd, D., Herr-Stephenson, B. Lange, P., Pascoe C., and Robinson, L. (with Baumer, S., Cody, R., Mahendran, D., Martínez, K., Perkel, D., Sims, C., and Tripp, L.), 2008. Living and Learning with New Media: Summary of Findings from the Digital Youth Project. The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Reports on Digital Media and Learning [pdf], Available at <http://digitalyouth.ischool.berkeley.edu/files/report/digitalyouth-WhitePaper.pdf>

Mason, R. & Rennie, F., 2008. Chapter 4: The Tools in Practice, in E-Learning and Social Networking Handbook: Resources for Higher Education, New York and London, Routledge. Available at: <http://www.lib.uts.edu.au/drr/25184>

Mayo, M., 2009. Bringing Game-Based Learning to Scale: The Business Challenges of Serious Games, [online] Available at SSRN: <http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1494526>

Prensky, M., 2003. Digital Game-Based Learning [pdf] Available at: <https://learn.it.uts.edu.au/gamed/Autumn04/support/gamebasedlearn.pdf>

Sanchez, E., 2011. Key Criteria in Game Design: A Framework [pdf] Quebec: The European Commission. Available at: <www.reseaucerta.org/meet/Key_criteria_for_Game_Design_v2.pdf>

Teras, H. and Myllyla, M., 2009. Educating Teachers for the Knowledge Society: Social Media, Authentic Learning and Communities of Practice. Available at: http://tamk.academia.edu/HannaTer%C3%A4s/Papers/652118/Educating_Teachers_for_the_Knowledge_Society_Social_Media_Authentic_Learning_and_Communities_of_Practice

Wagner, Mark., 2011. Massively-Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games As Constructivist Learning Environments in K-12 Education: A Delphi Study. [pdf] Available at: <http://edtechlife.com/files/dissertation/Wagner_Mark_Dissertation.pdf>

Wesch, M., 2012. From Knowledgeable to Knowledge-Able. Available at: <http://tedxtalks.ted.com/video/TEDxKC-Michael-Wesch-From-Knowl|http://tedxtalks.ted.com/video/TEDxKC-Michael-Wesch-From-Knowl>

Wood, K., 2011. Simulation video games as learning tools: an examination of instructor guided reflection on cognitive outcomes. Middle-Secondary Education and Instructional Technology Ph. D. Georgia State University, Atlanta.

Mason & Rennie on Game-Based Learning: A Quick Summary!

Students are immersed in technology while learning from the technology, for example vent/skype; wiki (collaborate); and walk throughs. In addition to the curriculum, students learn key digital literacy skills. Below are the strengths of game-based learning as evidenced in WoW (Mason and Rennie, 2008, p. 110-111):

  • Development of problem-solving skills  – ‘challenge and support players to approach, explore and overcome increasingly complex problems’ (p. 110)
  • Provision of alternative solutions – ‘try alternative courses of action…experience consequences” (p. 110)
  • Practice, practice and re-practice –  ‘Players probe the virtual world of the game, from hypotheses about it, re-probe it with those hypotheses in mind, and then, based on feedback from their virtual world, accept or re-think those hypotheses’ (p. 110)
  • Differentiation of identities – games are “microworlds” and students have the opportunity to ‘develop a much firmer sense of how specific social processes and practices are interwoven and how different bodies of knowledge relate to each other’ (p. 111)
  • Motivation – self-explanatory and this will be explored further as while it is a strength, it may also be regarded as a negative
  • Access to and use of multiple modalities: ‘print, sound and image’ (p. 111)

Mason, R. and Rennie, F., (2008). E-learning and social networking handbook, New York: Routledge.

Engenfeldt-Nielsen on Game-Based Learning: A Quick Summary!

In a socio-cultural perspective, video games are the tools for constructing a viable learning experience, but not the learning experience per se. Video games mediate discussion, reflection, facts, and analysis facilitated by the surrounding classroom culture and the student’s identity (Egenfeldt-Nielsen, 2006, p. 202)

A quick summary of Egenfeldt-Nielsen (2006, p. 202) is that gaming is seen as:

  • A place of reflection – ‘Like other activities in life, video games are a semiotic domain that can be learned slowly. One learns to make sense of and navigate in the domain of the game, while being directed to other interesting domains’
  • A place for agency/identity – ‘Video games provide new opportunities for learning experiences when the student is involved with the material. Video games are good for creating agency and identification, and this sparks critical thinking and learning’
  • A place for interaction and experimentation – ‘Video games are well suited for new forms of learning, where one can interact with the game world through probing and choosing different ways to learn and see things in a context’
  • A place for amplification and practice – ‘The fourth quality is of telling and doing, both related to amplification. Games can amplify areas and subsets of domains that players can practice’
  • A place from which skills can be transferred to other domains – ‘Games are also suited to transferring between domains. It is possible to transfer knowledge learned in video games to other contexts’


Egenfeldt-Nielsen, S., 2006. Overview of research on the educational use of video games, Nordic Journal of Digital Literacy, [online] Available at: http://www.idunn.no/ts/dk/2006/03/overview_of_research_on_the_educationaluseof_video_games