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Games based learning is a hot subject right now. Listening to James Paul Gee and Nichola Whitton speaking about video games has me thinking about the impact of games on education. How for example, can we justify the inclusion of computer games in school lessons and what benefits might they accrue for learners? How can games be integrated into the education, and in what ways might learning from games be assessed?
Gee's work focuses on the processes of learning through games playing, and highlights the active control gamers can exert, as well as other benefits including meta-level thinking, identity manipulation and discovering knowledge about oneself. For me, by far the most powerful principle Gee has identified is the psychological moratorium (PM) - an adaptation of a concept originally proposed by psychoanalyst Erik Erikson. For Gee, the PM represents the capability of a game to suspend reality, so that the gamer can go where they wish, be whomever they want to be, and perpetrate acts for which there is no lasting consequence. Putting aside the less desirable outcomes of this principle for one moment, we can see that the suspension of reality can encourage students to take greater risks, pose themselves problems that would otherwise be unrealistic, and explore terrains and ideas that would be virtually inconceivable outside of a video game.
Nichola Whitton's work overlaps considerably with the principles Gee identifies. She presents a 'magic circle' within which all kinds of scenarios are possible within games based learning. With video games, students can make believe and be someone else, through the avatar affordances of the technology. The game psychologically transports them to other places. They are able to take risks and experiment, and learn through failure, strengthening their skills and knowledge continually. They can make any number of choices, all of which have different consequences. Trying to beat one's own previous best score is an addictive aspect of many video games, and keeps the learner engaged. This leads not only to self testing but also embraces ipsative forms of assessment, where students measure their performance against their own previous achievements.
There are other elements of gaming such as the social connections and competition features of games that make playing so appealing. We have also to consider some of the subversive elements of games based learning, such as hacking and modding that appeal to so many gamers.
All of these are very powerful motivators. They are an important part of youth culture and teachers can no longer ignore computer games or believe they are irrelevant to education. They are staring us in the face and won't go away. Our challenge now is to discover how we can fully harness the power of these kinds of engagement and the potential for new forms of assessment in formalised settings. Each of these possibilities make learning through games playing highly motivational, but beyond this, they also enable learners to explore new ideas, reflect deeply in their actions, and ultimately, they are fun.
Photo by Sherif Salama on Flickr
#GBL - the suspension of reality by Steve Wheeler was written in Plymouth, England and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.Posted by Steve Wheeler from Learning with e's
Even its earliest days, educational broadcasting – both radio and television – struggled to compete with commercial providers as the latter were often opposed to dedicating bandwidth for specifically educational channels. (Commercial providers argued too – and this will sound familiar to today’s debates about open educational materials – that the quality of their content was superior.) But in 1952, the FCC reserved 242 channels – 80 VHF and 162 UHF – for educational use. New stations were created, such as KUHT, which was licensed by the University of Houston and the Houston Board of Education and went on the air in May 1953, the first educational non-commercial station.
Educational TV stations faced several challenges: PR and programming to name just two. Often the stations did not have much regular programming to offer, and as such they tended to be off the air on the weekends. What programming they were able to provide was frequently low-budget and dependent on local producers. There was no educational network; that is to say, there were just individual stations.
One technical issue all early television stations faced was actually getting the signal from the transmitter to receivers, whether in homes or in classrooms. In the 1940s, Westinghouse engineer Charles Noble had developed a solution to this problem – something he called “Stratovision.” Stratovision involved broadcasting the transmission from the air, rather than the ground, via aircraft flying at 25,000 feet. But commercial television didn’t pursue Stratovision, instead developing networks that shared and broadcast programming via affiliate stations simultaneously across the country.
That was something that educational television did not have, and Westinghouse contacted Philip Coomb, executive director of education for the Ford Foundation and suggested that Stratovision be used to this end. The Ford Foundation was a major funder of educational television efforts – according to Paul Saettler, it invested $70 million in these initiatives from 1955–1965; and the Ford Foundation helped support one of the more unique experiments in ed-tech history, the Midwest Program on Airborne Television Instruction (MPATI).
“Six and half tons of identical transmitting equipment, consoles, VTRs, and related broadcasting equipment, along with shelves of duplicate libraries of videotapes were bolted down and shock-mounted onto two DC-6 planes leased from Purdue University,” writes Steve Jajkowski. The MPATI planes circled the skies, broadcasting educational TV to membership schools below - in Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin.The Midwest Program on Airborne Television Instruction
The Midwest Program on Airborne Television Instruction was a non-profit organization formed in 1959 and headquartered at Purdue University. Members of its board included Howard Cromwell, Superintendent of Schools in Middletown Ohio; John Ivey, Dean of Education at the University of Michigan; Samuel Miller Brownell from the Detroit Public Schools; and Benjamin C. Willis, Superintendent of the Chicago Public Schools.
The MPATI board identified the teachers for the project, selecting 20 with backgrounds in instructional television from an applicant pool of 300. The organization then worked to develop the primary and secondary level curriculum it would deliver: courses in English, math, science, arts, music, and foreign languages.
The FCC allocated two UHF channels for the project.
Although the first year of the project was fully funded by the Ford Foundation, the program needed to become self-sustaining. The plan was to gain 5600 member schools (out of a possible 15,000 which were in the viewing area), initialy charging schools $1 per student. In 1963, the MPATI had about 1200 member schools, but four years later, that number had only increased by 500 or so. Although it eventually served an estimated 400,000 students, the organization never reached its membership goals. (The MPATI signal was not scrambled incidentally, meaning that schools could pick up the channels without actually paying for the broadcasts.)
From Saettler’s The Evolution of American Educational Technology:
The first demonstration telecasts began in April 1961; complete programming started in September 1961. The system provided seventy-two half-hour television lessons in a five-hour day by broadcasting five separate programs simultaneously, four days a week, during the school year.
Despite having a significant amount of content to broadcast, scheduling remained a problem, complicated by the fact that MPATI member schools were spread across two time zones and were caught up in debates in Indiana about whether or not to observe Daylight saving time.
And, no surprise considering the UHF signal, there was a steady stream of complaints from schools about the reception.
The cost of establishing MPATI exceeded $8 million. It was estimated that the maximum use of this system would demand about $10 million annually. When the Ford Foundation grant was terminated in 1966, MPATI was expected to be sustained largely by member schools in the years ahead, but by 1968 the airplanes came down for the last time. MPATI remained as a production and library organization for another three years. Finally, in 1971 the entire MPATI operation was incorporated into the Great Plains National Instructional Television Library in Lincoln, Nebraska.
Aside from financial problems, MPATI also had a number of technical problems. First, the project could not get the four to six permanent UHF channel assignments it requested from the FCC because, it was reasoned, this would keep other ground-based facilities from developing. Moreover, since MPATI succeeded in stimulating interest in instructional television throughout the six-state region, numerous stations were started. Many used their CCTV systems, and several schools began experimenting with Instructional Television Fixed Service (ITFS). Consequently, by the mid–1960s there was no longer a great need for the flying transmitter, partly because of the stimulus of the MPATI project itself.
Historian Larry Cuban is somewhat less sanguine than Saettler about educators’ interest in instructional television, arguing that from the outset it was “hurled at teachers.” In Teachers and Machines, he writes that “teachers seldom were consulted or involved in the discussions in the early stages of introducing instructional television, except as studio teachers or perhaps as writers of scripts or teacher guides. A typical teacher worked in consort with the ‘master’ teacher beamed into the classroom or simply turned on the set and let a follow-up discussion after turning off the program. Teacher as technician would be a fair description of the role envisioned and carried out in the early decades of television’s entry into classrooms.”
Despite all the hype about what educational television could offer (and despite two DC-6 planes that briefly circled the Midwest broadcasting content to schools below), teachers simply didn’t use TV in the classroom all that much.
In my post last week on the IMS Global Consortium conference #LILI15, I suggested that LMS usage in aggregate has not improved academic performance and noted that John Baker from D2L disagreed.
John Baker from D2L disagreed on this subject, and he listed off internal data of 25% or more (I can’t remember detail) improved retention when clients “pick the right LMS”. John clarified after the panel the whole correlation / causation issue, but I’d love to see that data backing up this and other claims.
After the conference I did some checking based on prompts from some helpful readers, and I’m fairly certain that John’s comments referred to Lone Star College – University Park (LSC-UP) and its 24% increase in retention. D2L has been pushing this story recently, first in a blog post and then in a paid webinar hosted by Inside Higher Ed. From the blog post titled “Can an LMS improve retention?” [footnotes and emphasis in original]:
Can an LMS help schools go beyond simply managing learning to actually improving it?
Pioneering institutions like Lone Star College-University Park and Oral Roberts University are using the Brightspace platform to leverage learner performance data in ways that help guide instruction. Now, they’re able to provide students with more personalized opportunities to master content and build self-confidence. The results of their student-centered approach have been nothing short of amazing: For students coming in with zero credits, Lone Star estimates that persistence rates increased 19% between spring 2014 and fall 2014 and Oral Roberts University estimates a persistence rate of 75.5% for online programs, which is an all-time high.
Then in the subsequent IHE webinar page [emphasis added]:
The results have been nothing short of amazing. Lone Star has experienced a 19% increase in persistence and Oral Roberts University has achieved a 75.5% persistence rate for online programs—an all-time high. Foundational to these impressive results is Brightspace by D2L—the world’s first Integrated Learning Platform (ILP)— which has moved far beyond the traditional LMS that, for years, has been focused on simply managing learning instead of improving it.
Then from page 68 of the webinar slides, as presented by LSC-UP president Shah Ardalan:
By partnering with D2L, using the nationally acclaimed ECPS, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and students who want to innovate, LSC-UP increased retention by 24% after the pilot of 2,000 students was complete.ECPS and the Pilot
For now let’s ignore the difference between 19%, 24% and my mistake on 25%. I’d take any of those results as institutional evidence of (the right) LMS usage “moving the needle” and improving results. This description of ECPS got my attention, so I did some more research on ECPS:
The Education and Career Positioning System is a suite of leading web and mobile applications that allow individuals to own, design, and create their education-to-career choices and pathways. The ability to own, design, and create a personal experience is accomplished by accessing, combining and aggregating lifelong personal info, educational records, career knowledge, and labor statistics …
I also called up the LSC-UP Invitation to Innovate program office to understand the pilot. ECPS is an advising and support system created by LCS-UP, and the pilot was partially funded by the Gates Foundation’s Integrated Planning and Advising Services (IPAS) program. The idea is that students do better by understanding their career choices and academic pathways up front rather than being faced with a broad set of options. LCS-UP integrated ECPS into a required course that all entering freshmen (not for transfers) take. Students used ECPS to identify their skills, explore careers, see what these careers would require, etc. LCS-UP made this ECPS usage a part of the entry course. While there is no published report, between Spring 2014 and Fall 2014 LCS-UP reports that increase in term-to-term persistence of 19+%. Quite interesting and encouraging, and kudos to everyone involved. You can find more background on ECPS here.
In the meantime, Lone Star College (the entire system of 92,000+ students) selected D2L and is now using Brightspace as its LMS; however, the ECPS pilot had little to do with LMS usage. The primary intervention was an advising system and course redesign to focus students on understanding career options and related academic pathways.The Problem Is Marketing, Not Product
To be fair, what if D2L enabled LSC-UP to do the pilot in the first place by some unique platform or integration capabilities? There are two problems with this possible explanation:
- ECPS follows IMS standards (LTI), meaning that any major LMS could have integrated with it; and
- ECPS was not even integrated with D2L during the pilot.
That’s right – D2L is taking a program where there is no evidence that LMS usage was a primary intervention and using the results to market and strongly suggest that using their LMS can “help schools go beyond simply managing learning to actually improving it”. There is no evidence presented of D2L’s LMS being “foundational” – it happened to be the LMS during the pilot that centered on ECPS usage.
I should be clear that D2L should rightly be proud of their selection as the Lone Star LMS, and from all appearances the usage of D2L is working for the school. At the very least, D2L is not getting in the way of successful pilots. It’s great to see D2L highlight the excellent work by LSC-UP and their ECPS application as they recently did in another D2L blog post extensively quoting Shah Ardalan:
Lone Star College-University Park’s incoming students are now leveraging ECPS to understand their future career path. This broadens the students’ view, allows them to share and discuss with family and friends, and takes their conversation with the academic and career advisors to a whole new level. “Data analytics and this form of ‘intentional advising’ has become part of our culture,” says Ardalan. “Because the students who really need our help aren’t necessarily the ones who call, this empowers them to make better decisions” he adds.
LSC-UP is also planning to starting using D2L’s analytics package Insights, and they may eventually get to the point where they can take credit for improving performance.
The problem is in misleading marketing. I say misleading because D2L and LSC-UP never come out and say “D2L usage increased retention”. They achieve their goal by clever marketing where the topic is whether D2L and their LMS can increase performance then they share the LSC success story. The reader or listener has to read the fine print or do additional research to understand the details, and most people will not do so.
The higher ed market deserves better.I Maintain My Position From Conference Panel
After doing this research, I still back up my statement at the IMS panel and from my blog post.
I answered another question by saying that the LMS, with multiple billions invested over 17+ years, has not “moved the needle” on improving educational results. I see the value in providing a necessary academic infrastructure that can enable real gains in select programs or with new tools (e.g. adaptive software for remedial math, competency-based education for working adults), but the best the LMS itself can do is get out of the way – do its job quietly, freeing up faculty time, giving students anytime access to course materials and feedback. In aggregate, I have not seen real academic improvements directly tied to the LMS.
I’m still open to looking at programs that contradict my view, but the D2L claim from Lone Star doesn’t work.
- Although my comments refer to improvements in aggregate, going beyond pilots at individual schools, this claim would nonetheless be impressive.
- Evidence is based on blog posts, webinar, and articles as well as interview of LSC-UP staff; if D2L can produce evidence supporting their claim I will share it here.
The post About Those D2L Claims of LMS Usage Increasing Retention Rates appeared first on e-Literate.
"Video is here to stay," writes Will Thalhaimer. "As of this day in 2015, more and more elearning is utilizing good video; but still more can be done." Maybe so, and of course there's nothing like a good engaging instructional video - TED and Khan Academy were successful for a reason. But I also find that a lot of the time when I click on a link and find it's a video, I move on very quickly. Video requires an investment from the viewer in terms of time and attention. It draws you in, but at the same time it turns off your critical filters. I don't think video is the new text. Nothing is the new text. Even text is not the new text. It all blurs together in a mé lange of media we have to see as a whole new thing, not a replacement of old things.[Link] [Comment]
Si los objetos que se guardan en un estuche escolar pudieran contarnos su historia, ¿Qué nos dirían? ¿Dónde nacieron? ¿Qué materias primas se utilizaron en su elaboración? ¿Fueron producidos de manera sostenible? ¿Qué coste supone para la Naturaleza esos lápices, rotuladores,... que tanto nos gustan? ...
Esta y otras cuestiones se abordan en el REA "Érase una vez un estuche", una secuencia didáctica con metodología ABP que plantea la realización de un relato autobiográfico de un objeto escolar utilizando la técnica de la personificación.
Este recurso educativo abierto del #ProyectoEDIA, creado con eXeLearning, permite a los alumnos el desarrollo de una secuencia didáctica multidisciplinar que puede ser adaptada, modificada e incorporada a otras experiencias didácticas de las áreas de Matemáticas, Lengua, Ciencias Naturales o Ciencias Sociales.