Augmentarium!

Learning Reflection 2 (posted when more learning was actualized)

In this second part of the Games and Learning course, I have expanded my learning on impact and value of games in the learning process. I have further researched topics such as games application across different educational settings, games and the role of mobility and concepts of place-based learning and studio-based pedagogy.

1. How did your participation in course activities this month contribute to your understanding of games (generally) and the relationship between games and learning?

Perhaps, one of the most educational component in the context of games and learning have been Sean Dikkers article on questing as learning. It was very hard to find credibility and value in the reading. However, it has been a great learning experience in a sense that it provoked me to dig deeper into Vygotsky’s theory, adult learner theory and frameworks.

2. What preconceptions about games, play, and learning have you changed because of your course activities so far?

Another preconception that changed was that the nature of measuring impact and effectiveness of games on learning is a subjective issue. However, course activities contributed to having learned more on the subject. Variety of institutions are making efforts into initiatives with emphasis on the contributing to and building analytics of games, simulations and mobile apps embedded into evidence-based courses. I was excited to find out that game analytics is huge part of the growing focus on measuring learning.

3. How have you relied upon networks – with peers, via social media – to advance your learning in our course?

I have abandoned Twitter for a while. It has become a little too distracting to me. However, to advance my learning in the course I was invited to attend a conference of a network of professionals in the field of online learning. One of the most exciting moments of this 27th Annual eLearning Consortium of Colorado was the presentation of one of the keynote speakers – Anders Gronstedt, Ph.D., the President of The Gronstedt Group, Inc. His presentation on the future of eLearning included topics about gamification and virtual reality. He explored how some of the Fortune 50 companies and governments are using new technologies to create a breakthrough performance, utilizing spy-themed games with live-action video and teaching cyber security skills with a tower defence-style game.

4. Ask yourself a question about games, play, and learning – and provide a meaningful answer.

Q: What is the role of games and 3D immersive experiences in education?
A: games, simulations, augmented and virtual realities will immensely change the way we learn by creating new brain schemas, patterns of brain activity and “push the boundaries of students’ intellectual, emotional and physical capabilities”.

5. What are your ongoing curiosities about games and learning, and how might you pursue these interests?

My newest ongoing curiosity is about the Augmentarium  – a revolutionary virtual and augmented reality facility, built by computer science researchers at the University of Maryland.

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Another ongoing interest that was sparked in the second half of this course thanks to the course reading and activities, is the application of virtual reality in online learning environments.

I am currently working on a proposal to pilot a virtual reality application in a Physical Oceanography course – one of the online courses that we offer here at the Metropolitan State University of Denver. I recently had the chance to experience playing with virtual reality goggles and explore numerous mobile apps. I was immersed into virtual worlds of the Earth million years ago, studying the sequoia trees, riding a rollercoaster and roaming on the streets of Paris. The learning experience was amazing! I was pulled into topics and worlds I had previously no interest in.

Recently my team and I developed an online Physical Oceanography course in a collaboration with the instructor. After the course was first launched, the instructor shared some of the comments from students. They all indicated the transformative learning experience they all had. So as a part of the next iteration of the course, I am brainstorming the idea of introducing virtual exploratory activities. For example, one of the course activities includes tracking of whales and sharks, studying their migration patterns. I wonder if a virtual reality exploration activity will create a deeper empathy and a relationship between the students and the topic and this project in particular?

Conclusion: I am becoming more and more interested in variety of topics on games and learning! One thing I wished we had in this course is not so much playing and exploring settings or social context (it’s alright, but not fascinating) but instead – more discussions on the application of all the innovative and emerging technologies in gaming and VR and research data into students practical fields. In other words, I would like less talking and writing and more brainstorming and collaboration between peers and peers and instructor about how to apply concepts, research, ideas, tools and technologies into online learning environments.

Also, a little less of James Gee and a little more of John Nash.

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