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Innovating Pedagogy 2013: Learning from gaming

blendedlearning's picture

The Innovating Pedagogy report is an annual overview of edutech from the Institute of Educational Technology at the Open University. The 2013 report, the second in the series, selects 10 emerging innovations from the long list of existing technologies which the institute believes have the potential to make a significant impact on education. These are not technologies which are in development or even new, but rather technologies and ideas which are already being effected but have room to expand. The report ranks each innovation in terms of potential impact and timescale for implementation, describes its current application, and then explains the pedagogy behind the innovation and how it could be re-envisioned for maximum impact. The next innovation the report describes is learning from gaming.

Potential impact: high
Timescale: medium

Classifying the use of gaming as an educational tool as an "innovation" is a bit of a misnomer. Using games to teach is not a new idea. Both older pedagogies and market forces have encouraged education and gaming industries to work together. There a few different approaches to educational gaming. One is the "gamification" of learning, a process which the report charmingly describes as the "chocolate-covered broccoli approach" where the interface of a game is used to make a mundane educational task more palatable. Another approach involves situating learning with a virtual world or gaming environment.

Although the report officially determines that the potential impact of learning from gaming is "high," the emphasis is definitely on potential. The report admits that while educational gaming seems to have a lot to offer, evidence of results is scant at best. There are definitely links between games and learning. Games have built in mechanisms for creating motivation, they encourage an awareness of rules and an understanding of consequences, and are intrinsically rewarding. Games also have a unique ability to create bonds between players/learners by promoting the formation of "affinity groups." The bond created by affinity groups has a pedagogy of its own. They are organized around a passion or commitment, creating a bond which is more natural than an enforced classroom. Affinity groups also allow users to fulfill different roles within the group, acting as both teachers and learners.

For more information or to read the full report, visit Open University's blog.