techdirections March 2017 : Page 2
technically speaking Vanessa Revelli firstname.lastname@example.org At the University of Michigan, a new learning environ-ment is emerging—treating learning environments as games. They are finding that students are more willing to explore new ideas and techniques, and figure out their personal learning styles, which helps them with their classroom experience. In turn, teachers are able to figure out student’s goals, and help them achieve them. So, what does it mean to call learning environments games? Traditional learning is linear, meaning you have a set of expected goals you must achieve (a research paper, tests, and exams) and that is your grade—no flexibility allowed. However, in a gaming environment, the approach is quite different. Exploration and discovery are the keys to success. That the path from point A to point B can only be achieved one way simply doesn’t exist. Mika Lavaque-Manty, one of the teachers using this approach, says this: “In my own courses, gameful means three related things. First, there are multiple paths to achievement: Stu-dents can learn the material in many different ways, prac-tice different kinds of academic work, and demonstrate their learning through different means. For example, . . . a pair of students might best understand Niccolo Machia-velli’s political theory by writing songs about it because they are musicians, and connecting something they like and know to the new and difficult makes it more interest-ing and meaningful. Multiple paths acknowledge the dif-ferent skills, interests, and backgrounds of the students. “Second, whatever you do, you learn—and earn—some-thing. Students begin the semester with a zero and gain points as they complete assignments. The purpose is to motivate students and to signal that all practice involves some learning. When you score 95 on a conventional 100-point assignment, you did well, but somehow you “lost” points. When assign-ments are framed as adding to your stock of points, however, even the assignment on which you didn’t do as well as you had hoped earned you something you didn’t have before, and demonstrated you had learned something you didn’t know before. “And third, this means that instead of constant high-stakes assessment, the approach allows for safe failures. Arguably better than educators, game designers have figured out how to build “desirable difficulties,” chal-lenges that motivate us to try again even if we first fail. One of their key ideas is that failures aren’t high stakes— you can’t really die in a video game. Similarly, we believe students shouldn’t risk ruining their GPAs with one or two assignments, either. “Does this approach work? . . . For me, fostering student autonomy is as important as subject mastery. Autonomy is not the same as freedom; it involves, im-portantly, an individual’s awareness of herself as having both choices and responsibility. The evidence we have collected from gameful courses suggests more students feel a greater sense of autonomy at the end of a gameful course than they did at the beginning.” A Prakken Publications Magazine Digital Tech Directions (ISSN 1940-3100) is published monthly, except June, July, and August, by Prakken Publi-cations, Inc., 2851 Boardwalk Drive, Ann Arbor, MI 48104. Executive, editorial, and advertising offices are at PO Box 8623, Ann Arbor, MI 48107-8623, telephone 734-975-2800; fax 734-975-2787. Vol. 76, No. 7. Board of directors Matthew D. Knope, Vanessa Revelli Business Manager Turalee A. Barlow, email@example.com Managing Editor Vanessa Revelli, firstname.lastname@example.org senior Editor Susanne Peckham, email@example.com Copy Editor Nancy Wright art, design, and production Manager Sharon K. 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