Finding Your Inner Gamer: Adapting Instruction for Digital Natives

This was the best session I attended this year. Robin Ewing from St. Cloud State University and Justine Martin from Minnesota State University at Mankato were an outstanding (and entertaining) duo. Their presentation provided a background on gaming, gamers, learning styles of gamers, motivation, engagement, features of games that make people want to keep on playing and how all of this can be applied to instruction.

People play games because they are engrossing. They have flow, rules, goals, challenges, elements of control, and some have aspects of fantasy. The current generation of students prefers to learn through trial and error. That is how they learn the new games. They don't read the manual. They learn best by doing.

If we are able to take these concepts and apply them to our instruction, then we have a better change of engaging the current game generation. Integrating narrative or creating a first-person scenario is an easy way to start to implement some of these game based concepts.

Examples they suggested we try is to allow students to pick their own topics, don't demo…have a student "drive" the computer, ask students to direct the student "driving" the computer as to what to do next if a search fails, create "power-up" cards [database tricks…truncation symbol…the power of AND OR NOT] that you can give to students who are having trouble or who are doing well.

They developed a great bibliography of books and articles to get up-to-speed on game based learning. They highlighted the books written by John Beck, James Gee, and Marc Prensky during their presentation.

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