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Deconstructing Donkey Kong

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Jordan Shapiro challenges parents, teachers, and academics to train their children and/or students to think critically about video games as you would a text.  This is a good admonition which may help parents and educators to teach higher order thinking skills to a generation in desperate need of these skills. 

Shapeiro writes;

“Most importantly, when I talk to my kids about a video game, I’m teaching them that after they get lost in the experience of game play, they should also stop, back-up, and think about the game as if it were a text. Hopefully, in the long term, my kids will learn to think critically about the underlying messages in commercial games and how we might use video games for their ability to provoke conversation.

This is not just about kids. In my opinion, there is far too little critical examination of video games happening even among adults, especially in academia.

Video games represent a shift in the way we construct narrative. Video games might be the new mythology. I personally believe that with video games, we are writing what will eventually become scripture in the hyper-connected centuries to come.

I’m troubled when I consider how few of the brilliant academic thinkers in the humanities are forcing us to ask difficult questions about the kinds of stories we want to tell through video games specifically. These video games are shaping the next generation. These video games are teaching them how to think about the world, how to make meaning. And we’re letting it happen by accident. That’s crazy.”

To read the full article click here;

http://www.forbes.com/sites/jordanshapiro/2014/02/28/how-to-think-critically-about-video-games/

 

Video Games as Tools for Learning and Recovery

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Sheldon Armstrong writes that;

“Many parents see video games as time-wasting distractions and encourage their children to stop playing and to focus on their studies. A growing number of teachers and scientists, however, are beginning to see these games as valuable tools in education and therapy. Video games have the ability to teach children not only basic skills, including math, physics and language arts, but broader concepts like collaboration, spatial reasoning, and critical thinking. Innovative therapists also use existing gaming systems to develop new programs to help patients recover from a variety of accidents and illnesses.

Education
Gaming offers children an alternative to the boredom they often feel when faced with traditional methods of education. Computers and tablets are such a ubiquitous part of contemporary life that it makes sense for teachers to use them in educational curriculums.

Video games are adaptable for all levels of learning. Instead of boring rote memorization that can be off putting to kids, video games offer an exciting medium to help students conceptualize theories in subjects such as math, algebra, geometry, and physics. Games can teach problem solving, provide challenges, and encourage risk-taking, all within an educational context. These games can motivate kids in their schooling.

Spatial Reasoning
Spatial reasoning is the ability to visualize and manipulate two- and three-dimensional objects. It is a vital component in the teaching of mathematics, science, engineering, and technology. Studies have linked strong spatial reasoning skills with advanced levels of creativity and innovation. Games that encourage children to solve puzzles, build structures, and craft virtual worlds also teach children spatial reasoning. Developing spatial reasoning skills through video games not only helps kids improve basic math scores, but can also prepare them for future professional work.

Critical Thinking
Critical thinking involves understanding concepts rather than memorizing facts. In video games, players are confronted with complex problems for which they must formulate solutions and take appropriate action. Often, a number of different alternatives are presented to players, forcing them to make quick choices. This process sharpens vital critical thinking skills.

Collaboration
Though gamers are often stereotyped as people sitting alone in front of a screen, in reality, most game play is a collaborative process. Many games have multi-player options in which two players, each with a controller, work together to solve a problem or reach a goal. In a larger context, massively multi-player online role-playing games in which players from all over the Internet join forces in virtual worlds to combat foes and achieve objectives require sophisticated teamwork skills. Video games enable students to interact socially while they simultaneously develop problem-solving skills.”

To read the full article by Sheldon Armstrong click here;

http://thetechscoop.net/2013/11/27/breaking-barriers-video-games-tools-learning-recovery/

Games and Higher Order thinking skills

Doug Adams provides good observations and great quotes on video games and Higher Order Thinking Skills.

To watch the slide presentation click here;

Games promote higher order thinking skills (Don’t tell the Texas GOP)

Konstantin Mitgutsch, MIT, co-editor and co-author of  Exploring the Edges of Gaming (2010), defends the idea that games promote higher order thinking.  His presentation was recorded at the JogNog Games for Learning Conference on June 28, 2011.  This is a clear, insightful, and research based presentation with several good examples of students learning higher order thinking skills while playing digital games. Enjoy!

In other news, The Republican Party in the state of Texas declared their opposition to teaching Higher order thinking skills in public schools.  Here is what they had to say in their 2012 platform:

“Knowledge-Based Education – We oppose the teaching of Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) (values clarification), critical thinking skills and similar programs that are simply a relabeling of Outcome-Based Education (OBE) (mastery learning) which focus on behavior modification and have the purpose of challenging the student’s fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority.” (page 12 of The 2012 Republican party platform for the State of Texas).

Let’s hope that the Republicans of Texas do not discover the link between higher order thinking skills and digital games – least they attempt to banish games as well.