Education Technology Report: Initiative underway to promote educational gaming at Penn State
Games are beginning to play a larger role in higher education, and Brett Bixler of ETS is leading Penn Stateâ€™s effort to take advantage of gamingâ€™s pedagogical potential. Brett, in conjunction with Bart Pursel of the Information Sciences and Technology Solutions Institute, is developing the Educational Gaming Commons initiative to provide a community and infrastructure for the development and adoption of games to support teaching, learning, and research.
Brett notes that there are several reasons why gaming should pique interest of educators. The current generation starting their college career, the â€œMillennialsâ€, are avid game players. Todayâ€™s computers are powerful enough to play all kinds of games, including simulations. Also, more people have the ability to not just play games, but create them, thanks to new software products that make the process much easier.
â€œGames have huge value for motivation of students,â€ Brett said. â€œYou have young people who will dedicate 50-60 hours playing a game, and the question is how do educators tap into that.â€
These games help students build important skills, Brett said. Along with learning the subject on which the games are focused, they develop skills such as higher-level problem solving, analysis, collaborative teamwork, and planning.
The Educational Gaming Commons (EGC) is just now getting underway, Brett said. The goals of the EGC include:
- To stimulate research, application and education utilizing games, including the use of virtual environments, simulations, and commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) games for educational gaming within the Penn State community.
- To develop educational games that can be utilized in Penn State educational settings.
- To create an affiliate program that will bring together the various pockets of faculty, staff, and students currently engaged in gaming or educational gaming projects at Penn State, providing a place to share resources, information, and ideas.
- To physically implement the Educational Gaming Commons Lab. This physical space will house a variety of hardware and software to be used for research, new game development projects, coordination of interdisciplinary research efforts, and initiation of public conversations about the broader and sometimes unexpected uses of this emerging art form in education.
In keeping with the recent Web 2.0 trend, the EGC will have a community hub similar to other TLT projects such as the ANGEL Community Hub, Blogs at Penn State, and Adobe Connect. â€œAlong with discussion, the Community Hub will also have educational game examples for people to review,â€ Brett said. â€œIn addition to the Community Hub, I expect to start promoting the EGC in January to raise awareness. I also will prepare and present some workshops and seminars.â€
â€œWith the current interest in educational gaming only expected to increase, I am very optimistic about the programâ€™s success,â€ Brett added.