Tuesday, July 1, 2014

ISTE 2014 Day 4: Play as learning

This morning I participated in an interactive session about gaming in teacher education. During the session, I was able to download the software for the game, create an avatar, and play in an immersive classroom-based gaming experience for pre-service and new teachers. The game (Quest2Teach) places teachers in a virtual context and allows them to experience authentic challenges they will face in their future or current classrooms. In this immersive environment, teachers face multiple opportunities for real-world decision-making and receive immediate feedback on their choices and actions. The actions and choices made by gamers in Quest2Teach affect how the context responds to them. For example, the clothes chosen by the gamer when designing an avatar will later influence how students behave in the virtual classroom. Decisions about how much time to spend working on a lesson plan, how to respond to a specific student question, and how to respond to feedback from colleagues and supervisors alter the gaming experience and personalize the learning environment for the gamer.

The designers of Quest2Teach explained that immersive environments can help to bridge the gap between theory and coursework in a teacher education program and actual experience in a classroom. Before students are faced with classroom management challenges and critical feedback from a mentor teacher, for instance, immersive environments such as Quest2Teach can provide opportunities for pre-service teachers to face those challenges, take risks, and fail in a safe environment. Further, the immersive classroom helps gamers learn from their mistakes by providing feedback on their actions and teaching through that feedback.

While most pre-service teachers may not be gamers, experiences in immersive games can create a more interactive, authentic learning experience while preparing them for their real work as teachers. And gaming is just plain fun. If you don't believe me, just reflect on how many educators asked you for your networking game code this week.

Image from Quest2Teach gallery

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