The Games We Play

When you gaze across the classroom, do your students gaze back at you? Or do they drop their eyes and fixedly stare at their laptop computer screens?

Perhaps they’re reviewing documents that are relevant to the class discussion. And perhaps they’re taking notes about the curriculum topic. But conversely, it’s entirely possible that they’re quietly playing Angry Birds on Facebook. Or FarmVille. Or Candy Crush.

And what if we cannot stop them? After all, our students play these games because they are entertained by them. Under such circumstances, by utilizing these same gaming technologies, we can endeavor to create our own learning games to enhance our educational outcomes.

Michael Kraten of Providence College and Stephen Kozlowski of Eastern Illinois University are developing a theoretical model and an educational game in an effort to achieve this goal. They’ll present The Blue Frog Meets Facebook: Integrating Social Presence And Emotional Contagion To Enhance Learning Outcomes In Educational Game Simulations at our upcoming midyear meeting.

If you attend the presentation, you’ll meet the five fictional characters who interact with the student players within their game. Four of the characters represent members of the global business community, while one is an anthropomorphic blue frog whose species is threatened by a massive construction project.

A story line unfolds across a series of four Acts, each consisting of a Scene I and a Scene II. The student players encounter the characters and then make business decisions with expected and unexpected consequences.

By utilizing features of the technology platform to manipulate the characters, Mike and Steve can modify the extent to which social proximity and emotionality are present throughout the game. These factors affect the players’ levels of social presence and emotional contagion, which in turn affect the entertainment value of the learning activity.

And a more entertaining game is a more effective game. Which, in turn, enhances knowledge acquisiton and retention.

Want to learn more? Then join the SET Section’s Concurrent Session on Learning during the first morning of our midyear meeting. You’ll learn the theories, meet the characters, and discuss the structural framework of the game Save The Blue Frog.

Most importantly, you might just change your mind about the prevalence of social media services in our classrooms. If it is futile to fight the ubiquitous presence of such platforms, why not turn the tables and learn to employ them for our benefit?