Apps encourage group sharing and collaboration

Last week I saw three students congregated round a computer screen and they were so immersed in their conversation that I couldn’t help but observe them and listen to their discussion. The students were collaborating together and sharing their ideas. They were visibly engaged and they were teaching each other how to use the application well. I also overheard their plans on how they intend to share and exchange the resources related to the application. Without even realising they were trying to decipher a plan that will lead to the greater good of each of them – a utilitarian perspective that is so widely diffused in business ethics. Their conversation even led them to practice resource bartering. In just ten minutes, these students had applied more concepts than I would have ever hoped to teach in an hour. The students were playing FishVille.

What value can be extracted from these games, which provide such an immersive ‘alternate’ reality to people? What is The value they are currently extracting? Can this be measured? Can this be quantified?

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12 thoughts on “Apps encourage group sharing and collaboration

  1. >Rachel, this post is very interesting to read, especially the part where you noted that the students were playing an online game, and were actually bartering amongst each other for goods. It was also interesting how you enter the Utilitarian perspective into their goings on. To actually note that they were finding a common good in a virtual game is amazing. I myself would have probably ignored that fact for the simple reason that I would have assigned it as children playing games. Nevertheless there is a lesson to be learnt from this! At times, our lives are so fast paced that we tend to ignore the subtle hints that are right in front of us! Taking a note of this incident I have to say that it is a pity that we do not relate the real world of learning with online games. You have proven this very well when you asserted that the students learned more from 10 minutes of playing the game than in an hour's lecture. I believe that this is precisely what we should do in our lessons! We need to find the students' area of interest and exploit it to our own good. In this case you can explain the utilitarian approach and perhaps even the method of negotiation through examples of the students' playing Fish Ville and Farm Ville. I myself have never played Fish Ville, and have no idea of what one should do within it however, you have given me a brilliant idea! I myself will explore the rules of the game and infuse them into my teaching. Surely the students will understand the vague philosophical theories better via examples taken from similar games!

  2. >La l-ħajja taf tkun sfida ta' ProblemSolving, bħal somma twila waqt eżami kontinwu, u peress li l-bniedem irid jegħleb l-ostakli… nifhem li dawn is-simulazzjonijiet virtwali jew kważireali jgħinuhom jaslu għal soluzzjoni u wara jbatu jew igawdu l-konsegwenzi. Imbagħad fil-ħajja reali jkollhom it-tieni ċans, ir-resit, it-tieni tentattiv. Is-simulazzonijiet jogħġbuhom għax donnhom bihom jirnexxilhom jippruvaw kollox fil-ħajja, saħansitra lil hinn fis-surreali.

  3. >I have found this blog to be very interesting and serves as food for thought. I too believe that our students learn a lot from games. Lately there has been a boom about the term "edutainment" referring to the attempt to build a learning environment which is also fun, and I think that games is the most plausible way to go about it.Even when I do a small quiz with my students, I start to notice how much they get involved in it, and how it helps them to work in teams. But even when games are not directly educational, I still believe that students will be learning a lot, maybe not about the subject, but about life.I found the following resource to be very useful:http://www.marcprensky.com/writing/Prensky%20-%20What%20Kids%20Learn%20Thats%20POSITIVE%20From%20Playing%20Video%20Games.pdfThis document explains how, while playing games, learning is happening at 5 different levels, being: how, what, why, where, and when.I think that games are very healthy for students, both as recreation and for learning. The problem, as always, comes with addiction such that they give less time to other important things, such as studying and homework.

  4. >@MarkL-ewwelnett nixtieq nghidlek prosit tal-Malti li tuza. Filwaqt li niehu pjacir naqra l-posts tieghek, jkolli nghid li miniex kapaci nikteb bil-Malti bhal ma tiktbu int. Il-kumment tieghek geghlni nahseb hafna. Qabel qrajt il-kumment tieghek kont nahseb li s-simulazzjonijiet virtwali huma wisq il-boghod mir-realta’. Izda issa qed ninduna li jista’ jaghti l-kaz li d-dinja reali ta’ l-istudenti qed tizviluppa bl-istess mod bhal dik surreali. Forsi d-dinja harxa li toffri cans wiehed biss m’ghadiex tezisti llum?

  5. >The above has all been so very interesting to read. It is indeed amazing how such games like Farmville, Fishville and any other sort of …ville can be educational after all. In fact, some time ago a particular Farmville neighbour of mine commented on how some people fail to share even though these are only games after all. We should not underestimate our behaviour even though these are only games as after all standing in the background of the idea of helping, there is present a value, an attitude. Just as the group of students above did, these games promote such skills as planning or calculating. Another important thing for us all to keep in mind, is that we will always have fun in playing games, no matter our age and our 16-year-olds are no different. It always gets more out of them to create some sort of competition in class for instance. An online environment would definitely facilitate this. I googled 'online games for learning' and I was wondering why it is that most of the sites cater for kids…don't adults play at all anymore?

  6. >Rachel, mill-kummenti tieghek donni qieghda ninnota li ma tantx inti favur il-loghob virtwali. X'inhi r-raguni wara dan? Tahseb li huma hela ta hin, jew sempliciment ma tifhimx l-iskop taghhom fil-hajja ta kuljum? Qieghda nqajjem dan il-punt mhux biex nirredikolak b'xi moghod, izda sempliciment ghaliex issa li qieghda naqra l-blog mill-gdid qieghda ninnota kontradizjoni fil-kitba tieghek. Fl-ewwel post ikkumentajt kif l-istudenti tghallmu minn din il-loghba, izda aktar l-isfel (fl-istess post) semmejt li inti ma tistghax taqbad l-valur edukkativ taghhom. Jistgha jkun li ahna li qieghdin nghixu f'dinja mimlija varjeta', mimlija relattivita' ma nafux noqodu minghajr dawn il-kontradizjonijiet?! Forsi il-fatt li ghalik l-istudenti tghallmu minn Fish Ville mhuhiex bizzejjed biex dak t-tghalim jitrasferixxi ruhu ghal-hajja reali ta kuljum ghaliex ma ghandiex inkomplu nhaltu d-dinja vera mad0dinja illuzjorja.

  7. >I am sure that students get engaged more through games. Edutainment and informal learning are not just buzz words but good concepts that do work. I am totally in favour of the use of games in primary or secondary education but against them (if overused) in higher education. Higher education is meant to prepare students for the serious stuff in life. When students get to the world of work, it is unlikely that they will be assigned playing games by their bosses, and if they have to refer to technical manuals, these will probably be formal ones. Thus, we are responsible to instill in our students the competency of working with formal (non-entertaining) resources too.

  8. >I think that using games like Fish Ville and Farm Ville etc are beneficial for our students. It is true that they are mimicking real life, replacing what is real with a virtual world but, I remember when I was young playing 'Monopoly' and chess that were very beneficial for my adult business life. I learned how to use money and build a real estate business, while playing chess I learned how to think strategically, aren't these important for life after school.I believe we should encourage our students to play as this will broaden their mind, will release some of the stress that examinations bring about and create a sense of teamwork and solidarity

  9. >In my opinion, education is not only about reading and studying. Education MUST also be fun. Unfortuantely we are too busy for this kind of education. Educational entertainment should be used to educate as well to amuse.

  10. >I think that using apps, even if not as a means for students to gain new knowledge, is of great assistance in motivating students to attending lectures and contributing to the lesson. I do not make frequent use of apps as unfortunately I do not have enough time to prepare such material. I have occasionally used classtools.net to create different activities such as interactive timelines that I use with HND classes, and simpler jigsaw puzzles with different terminology used with FDB classes. The site has different templates some of which may be adapted to be used with adult learners.They do take some time to plan, in spite of this, students tend to remember information more easily through such activities.

  11. >It is amazing how a game gets the students’ mind working, even beyond their imagination and even ours. With these applications students, not knowingly will be experiencing various situations such as strategic planning, solving problems and even teamwork. It is a pity though that these students do not apply this line of thinking to their everyday life, especially the education part. I must say though that life is not a game. It is not always possible to deliver a topic as a game to enhance student motivation. I must also admit that it is true when one gets the opportunity to watch these students playing computer games in groups, one could see a positive side of these students, something that can be missed by the naked eye.

  12. >I argue that good video games recruit good learning and that a game's design is inherently connected to designing good learning for players. I really believe that people primarily think and learn through experiences they have had, not through abstract calculations and generalizations. People store these experiences in memory and human long-term memory. These experiences are used to run simulations in their minds to prepare for problem solving in new situations. They then form hypotheses about how to proceed in the new situation based on past experiences. This shows how good video games can deliver such optimal learning experiences. Thus in my opinion when students learn through games they tend to tackle the following issues: identity and learning; models and model-based thinking; cross-functional teams for learning; motivation, and ownership; emotion in learning; and situated meaning, that is, the ways in which games represent verbal meaning through images, actions, and dialogue.

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