Sunday, July 17, 2005

the problem of content

Many people see playing computer games as a waste of time because the player is not learning stuff like Newtons laws or how to transform a maths equation

Tony Forster has pointed out previously how Game Maker could be a good vehicle for teaching maths in a new way and provided some programs to support this - whenever I run this past maths teachers they haven't got time for it because their program is already full with "content"

But there are studies around that for example show that students who "know" Newton's laws will still get basic questions wrong such as - how many forces are acting on a ball when it is thrown into the air? There are only two (gravity and air resistance) which are both acting opposite to direction of motion but most students will add a third one, impetus some sort of imaginary force left over from the initial throwing up force. So they don't really understand Newton's laws at all.

btw it would be easy to program this in game maker

James Gee does address this in what he calls active learning in contrast to passive content. Active learning involves:
1. Seeing the world in new ways, different world view
2. Ability to access socially the "club" of other people who also see the world in these new ways, to be able to interact meaningfully, eg. have conversations, with members of the club
3. A toolkit for future learning and problem solving in this and related domains
- What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy, p. 23.

I'm still reading Gee but think he is adding something new to the debate


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