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Video Games for Teaching and Learning

Essay by   •  January 13, 2012  •  Case Study  •  3,520 Words (15 Pages)  •  1,958 Views

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RUNNING HEAD: Video games for teaching and learning

Video Games for Teaching and Learning

Cassaundra Thompson

Argosy University

Abstract

The intent of this composition is to identify the benefits of using video games for teaching and learning. The analysis will be based on the usage of several sources focused on issues in corporate training, different types of video games, and how the games benefit all users. There will also be a discussion of the findings and a final conclusion.

Video Games for Teaching and Learning

Introduction

Corporate training is a much needed yet often downplayed part of an organization. Many companies offer training sessions in a traditional classroom setting with a live instructor and an audience. However, this type of setting can prove to be ineffective given the current climate of education and those who are being educated. Technology has advanced rapidly and there have been new advances in education and training. There have been several studies on the usage of video games, specifically virtual worlds, for teaching and learning.

Virtual Worlds

In the realm of video games lies what are known as virtual worlds. Virtual worlds are generally styled in the form of massive multiplayer online (MMO) atmospheres, or atmospheres where the in-game inhabitants can partake in real world activities such as socializing, entertaining themselves and others, educating themselves and others, or conducting business (Wang, 2009). They are immersive and three-dimensional (3-D), utilize multi-media, and acts as a multi-person simulation atmosphere where the users assume personas and interact with the environment and other users. Virtual worlds are rapidly growing environmental simulations in which users can interact with each other as well as products and services offered by businesses and other people. Users design a graphical image called an avatar to represent them within the virtual world. Virtual worlds function in real time and the activity within continues even after a user is logged out and off-line.

Virtual worlds have gone through an evolutionary process. Starting out as simple text-based networked environments, they transformed into virtual reality desktop simulations, and have now become fully immersive three-dimensional simulated environments where they have begun to function as a means of constructivist teaching and learning for distance education (Wagner, 2009). Loyalist College in Canada has built a campus in the virtual world known as Second Life (Burton, 2009). Loyalist became the first Canadian college to construct a college campus and educate students, however it joins a group of more than 200 other educational institutions including Harvard, Brown, and Stanford, which have all made their presence in the virtual world to grow their teaching and learning processes and opportunities.

Purposeful Virtual Worlds

Virtual worlds can be classified into two main categories: purposeful and general purpose (Wagner, 2009). Purposeful or game-focused worlds generally revolve around fantasy and role playing. The most successful and well-known of the game-focused world is World of Warcraft (Wagner, 2009), which boasts of over 12million players world-wide (Orton-Jones, 2009). Other well-known and successful game-focused worlds are EverQuest, Final Fantasy, and Runescape. Game-focused worlds usually follow the same type of path in relation to the real-world and business models (Wagner, 2009). There are shops, auction houses, and trade and gift systems. The shops are mainly run by non-player characters (NPCs), however the auction houses are supplied with in-game merchandise that the players put up for sale to be purchased by other players, and the trade and gift systems allow players to trade items with each other or give items or in-game currency to each other. Purposeful games generally have a predetermined goal, definite pay-off-structures, and predetermined activity flow (Wagner, 2009). The players are required to complete fantastical objectives such as slaying monsters, saving towns, or acquiring certain objects. There are some purposeful virtual worlds that are not game-focused such as those used for job training, military simulations, and other types focused on skill development and not entertainment. However, both types of purposeful virtual worlds offer learning experiences that are beneficial to real life. Purposeful games influence philanthropic behaviors, clarify the benefits of duty separation, promote team work, and enhance team building skills.

General Purpose Virtual Worlds

General purpose or social-focused worlds are designed primarily to engage the users in social activities that mimic those of real world activities, and in some cases to function as real life businesses by incorporating actual real world payment methods within the virtual world (Wagner, 2009). The most successful and well-known social-focused virtual world is Second Life. Second Life has over 15million registered accounts and at any given time has an average of 38,000 inhabitants logged on. Some other popular social-focused virtual worlds are Habbo Hotel and Bebo. However, Second Life is far more advanced than other virtual worlds within its category due to the fact that users are able to create objects, buildings, and alter the environments within the game, as well as access those created by other users (Wang, 2009).

Learning Using Virtual Worlds

The usage of virtual worlds in teaching and learning has become a growing concept. There are over 200 educational institutions worldwide that have created virtual campuses in the social-focused Second Life (Burton, 2009). Learning through virtual worlds gives way to new educational opportunities by altering the traditional classroom setting, and placing the professor in an environment that is entertaining, exciting, immersive, and social. The students are able to participate and engage in a learning process that is more geared towards their way of thinking and learning. It has been proven that Second Life and World of Warcraft are effective training and learning tools. Both games offer an environment where role-playing, exploring, and experimenting are encouraged (Wyld, 2009). The players can do this without the fear of any risks. It is accepted that a player may be unsuccessful in an attempt a number of times before the player is triumphant. Each attempt awards the

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