Archive for the ‘Edutainment’ Category

Besides Gary Hayes’ social media count I introduced in my blog last week, Gary also created a mobile count showing interesting statistics driving the mobile revolution.  According to Gary, the mobile data was taken from the source articles/statistics below:

  • TechCrunchies – Mobile Video Viewers Statistics
  • AdMob June 2009 Mobile Metrics Report
  • PortioDirect Mobile Factbook 2009
  • MashableCITA report – 4.1 Billion SMS Messages Are Sent Daily USA
  • iPolicy UK – SMS messaging has a bright future
  • Research and Markets Global Mobile Broadband – Statistics and Trends
  • Smartbrief Sharp Increase in Mobile Internet
  • ABI Research In 2014 Monthly Mobile Data Traffic Will Exceed 2008 Total
  • HotHardware Huge Growth in Daily Mobile Web Access
  • Ecoustics
  • Cio GPS Enabled Mobile Phone Shipments to More than Double Over Next Five Years
  • Nielsen Americans Watching More TV Than Ever: Web and Mobile Video Up too

To see Gary Hayes’ Mobile Count running in real time, please click on the following image to launch the live counter.

Also, Gary provided some of the interesting statistics about the tremendous growth of games recently:

  • 50 million daily users of Zynga social games (Inside Social Games 2009)
  • $2.8 bill generated yearly by China MMOG players (Raph Koster 2009)
  • 16 million quests per day completed by WoW players (Maximum PC 2009)
  • $22 Billion US games revenue in 2009 (IDE Agency 2009)
  • 50 000 person to person auctions per day on Gaia
  • 1 million currency transactions per day in Eve Online (MMORPG.com 2009)
  • 9 games sold every second 2007 (GrabStats 2007)
  • $5.5 bill spent on virtual goods globally
  • 4.1 million new MMORPG subscribers 2009 (MMORPGChart.com 2008)
  • $125 mill advertising revenues in Social Virtual Worlds (GamineExpedition 2008)
  • 575000 log into Fantasy Westward Journey per day (Seeking Alpha 2009)
  • 250 thousand virtual goods created on Second Life per day (MarketWire 2009)
  • $594 million invested in Virtual World companies in 2008 (Engage Digital Media 2009)
  • 1.5 million new 3-11 US children subscribing to Virtual Worlds annually (GamineExpedition 2009)
  • 1 million message board posts per day in Gaia online
  • 7.5 million per month use Habbo
  • $2.45 billion per year revenue made from World of Warcraft (Edge Online 2008)
  • 13.4 million portable game units sold in 2007 (Grab Stats 2007)
  • 936 mill Chinese user hours per week in online games (78 mill @ 12 hrs pw) (Futures of Learning 2008)
  • 1250 text messages sent per second in Second Life  (Linden Lab 2009)
  • 465 million user hours in second life over the last year (Linden Lab 2009)

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Edutainment is the marriage of “education” and “entertainment” combing the fun aspects of games with the more learning-oriented aspects of education. True edutainment seeks to enhance education by making it entertaining for the learner. Like other instructional media, games have taken some to register on the academic radar screen. Today, researchers from fields as diverse as graphic design, computer science, educational technology, cognitive psychology, film studies, and sociology have contributed to the understanding of the phenomenon of educational games.

Much of the early research and development in edutainment have focused on the primary grades. However, the Games-to-Teach project at MIT demonstrates the pedagogical potentials of games by developing a range of conceptual frameworks that show how games can be deployed to teach math, science, and engineering at an advanced secondary or early undergraduate level. Over the past decade, a great number of research-driven educational games projects were developed by universities and organizations to support learning. Some of these projects are: ThinkerTools (University of California, Berkeley), GenScope (The Concord Consortium), StarLogo (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), Games-to-Teach Project (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), Quest Atlantis (Indiana University), and Learning Villages (Chinese University of Hong Kong), and Mad City (University of Wisconsin-Madison).

According to Subrahmanyam & Greenfield, psychologists have discovered that children learn important cognitive skills by playing video games, such as the ability to maintain attention and to orient things in space. In a research study conducted by Rosas and his colleagues, they studied 1,274 elementary students in Chile and found the students who played video games were more motivated, more likely to pay attention in class, and substantially less likely to be disruptive. Teachers, even those who were initially skeptical about the use video games in the curriculum, recognized significant improvements in the classroom, and asked to be able to continue using the games in all their classrooms.

Another study conducted by Tim Rylands in his class at the Chew Magna Carta School in Bristol, England showed positive results on playing computer games. His students are gaining top SAT scores and are excelling in creating thinking. The appeal of computer gaming is the personal involvement that students have in the task on the screens. Results such as Rylands have encouraged other teachers to incorporate computer gaming into their curricula.

James Gee, in his book, What Video Games Have to Teach Us about Learning and Literacy, asserts that video games teach better than our decontextualized, skill-and-drill classrooms. Video games present simulated semiotic domains and give information an embodied and contextualized presence that lends itself better to how we are psychologically structured to learn. Gee states that video games “situate meaning in a multimodal space through embodied experiences to solve problems and reflect on the intricacies of the design of imagined worlds and the design of both real and imagined social relationships in the modern world.” Video games simulate identities, experiences, contexts, and social relationships in designed spaces. A player learns to think critically about the simulation while at the same time gaining embodied knowledge through interacting with it: taking on new avatarial identities within it, solving problems through trial and error within it, and gaining expertise, or literacy, within it. Gee argues that the best games offer a model learning experience and suggests teachers can learn useful lesson by observing how games draw players in and motivated them to concentrate and tackle complex problems.

Gee further argues that the learning supported by computer gaming could replace traditional teaching models — where teachers speak and students take notes — with arenas in which students are active consumers who are engaged by simulations that literally allow them to interact with and manipulate virtual worlds. By learning a subject like science in a way that encourages problem-solving, lateral thinking and critical analysis, the consequence would be a population confident in their knowledge, and the ability to apply it in everyday life.

I think educational games can enhance the students learning experience in a practical manner. The educational games offers a new possibility for combining motivation, critical thinking, problem solving, hands-on and self-regulated learning within a constructivist framework. Moreover, educational games promote practice with unknown situations, allow repeat experience and exploration of different alternatives, provide the freedom of experimentation and “play” that is typically absent in other pedagogy.

With the average of digital natives spending over 10,000 hours in playing video games before age 21, I think educational games have great potentials in learning. I expect more high quality educational games will be developed and teachers will integrate them into their curricula to support learning. To learn more about the research and development on educational games, I recommend the following resources:

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