Posts Tagged education

Go with the ‘Flow’ – Games for learning and fun!

A unique way to create opportunities for involvement for a learner is to engage him/her by overlaying game dynamics onto the experience.  Since I have laid out the characteristics of Flow in my previous post, I will note here that the third point works exceptionally well for integrating game dynamics in learning experiences. If the activity is engagement with an object in a museum, then the level of skill involved in that engagement must balance in order to master Flow.

Introducing game dynamics allow for this balancing act to occur.  A good game allows a player to practice a skill in the first level and then becomes more challenging over time, causing the player to develop their skills to master the game. The goal of successful game design balances actions and outcomes and integrates those into a larger context (Salen & Zimmerman, 2005).

One of the foremost writers/lecturers on employing game dynamics in education, James Paul Gee talks about how games are embedded into a material, social and cultural world (check out his lecture at NYU; it is very insightful).  Allowing learners — and now players — to explore multiple paths through learning activities gives them the opportunity to create meaning that builds from their personal experience.  Learners/Players engaged in a game must pay attention to details, problem solve, examine different points of view, and overcome challenges.  All of these skills can lead to powerful forms of learning, but only if the activity is carefully implemented into a program that considers how to use it effectively and what learning outcomes should be achieved.

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Mobile technology must provide guided connections to an ever-connected world

George E. Hein’s theory that knowledge constructed in the mind of the learner based on their past knowledge fundamentally changes our approach to education in informal learning spaces. Rather than feeding information in a straight, didactic way, emerging technology can give us new outlets for teaching and empowers learners to explore and create their own meaning. In particular, the flexibility of mobile technology allows learners to select their own path through a series of learning activities and to engage with new information that builds from their previous understanding of the world.

But in order to create these learning activities and environments, we must always consider that the focus must be on the learner and their needs. So the question then becomes, “How can technology be used as a tool for the learner to experience and connect with the subject matter that is meaningful to him/her?”

Looking at what Hein suggests, the learner’s experience should be more like an encyclopedia than a textbook. The use of technology can and should allow for a vast area of breadth, but also provide in-depth learning in a subject as well.

However the technology must allow for personalization. The learner can select what topic interests them most and then provide guided avenues for further learning. It is here that the interconnected format of Wikipedia might provide a basis on which to imagine how this format can take shape. Digital natives do not think in strictly linear terms. Their understanding of the world is shaped by connections through many different media outlets. Therfore the technology used in the learning process must allow for these guided connections to happen.

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Mobile Learning — What is it and why is it important in education today?

Mobile Learning, or mLearning, is the next step in integrating technology into the field of education in a way that can personalize learning for each student.

These two questions — “What is mobile learning?” and “Why is it so important in education?” are not going to be answered here in one blog post.  Simply because technology advances so quickly, so to does the meaning of mobile learning.  And therefore its importance changes rapidly too. 

I hope to establish through this blog a more concrete view of mobile learning and how to use it appropriately to enhance learning experiences.

And please, feel free to share your insights.  I hope to make this a space to advocate for mobile learning and to share ideas.

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