My [honours] Research – An Overview

This is basically a summary of where I want to go with this research. It is early stages and will be refined in the months to come, but so far here is the overview.

What is it exactly that I am researching?

My main focus with my research lies in the area of emerging pedagogical paradigms, specifically in video games.

So what? There are educational games out there what makes this research significant?

The problem is that there are lots of “educational” games out there. Variations of maths, science, history, memory etc. One thing that I have found that all of them lack is proper construction in comparison to how the human brain is wired. Predominately how the CURRENT human brain is wired for learning; and for the most part are constructed the same way games for entertainment are.

Games for entertainment offer an abundance of fantasy, post-apocalyptic awe-inspiring worlds filled with numerous tasks, objectives, landscapes and interaction. With such games it can take well into the tens and hundreds of hours to just scrape the surface. (i.e. Skyrim). However, in the typical educational setting, children are not at school long enough to properly experience such type of entertainment. If they were able to, they would indeed learn new skills, but not necessarily curriculum orientated material and it may impact on other activities within their lives.

It is naive to assume that the teaching methods that you and I grew up with; the days of the chalkboards, whiteboards and endless handwriting exercises are still relevant as much now as it were then. We are not ENTERING a digital age, we are ALREADY in it.

Most educational games lack the aesthetic appeal that AAA titles repeatedly bombard our screens, internet and retail stores with. Whilst this isn’t the core component in the content that we need to learn, it goes a long way in maintaining engagement for prolong amounts of time.

Current educational games utilise the drill and repeat method, which can be effective,but it is not really going to help us to create the inquisitive minds that conduct tangential learning – that is to want to learn.

Wouldn’t it be great if an aesthetically brilliant environment, packed with all the mod cons that today’s AAA titles so often promise, can actually teach children BETTER than the relentless tree killing, photocopy handouts and question and answer chapter summaries the current education systems still prefer. They are actually designed in a way so that our brain interprets the information the best that it can, because they are structured in such a way allowing the information presented to be encoded and stored successfully.

Wouldn’t it be great if children actually could use the skills and be made aware about how those boring trigonometry and quadratic problems actually have significance in our every day life. That what learnt in the classroom doesn’t stay there but can be applied to any situation that a student may encounter.

If not now…then when?

When children finish school more often then not they will go home, go on Facebook and then that is it. They more or less disconnect from the physical world and enter a digital sphere. Where status’s, photo tagging, online gaming (even console gaming) all matter and are all important.

It is futile to “stop” this behaviour. Try and uplug the computer; they use their smartphone, iPads, tablets, consoles etc. Everything is digital and so are their interests. Whilst few far and in-between still regularly use their library card (perhaps a foreign concept to some) the general population will just “Google it”. In other words, to a digital modernity, if it isn’t online, it doesn’t exist.

Student’s interests have changed from these that we all once held close to our hearts. The sooner educational institutions stop resisting the inevitable future and start to accept this paradigm shift, the more advanced educational technologies can become and the more students are going to be interested in learning.

My research will be project based and consist of a proof-of-concept game and exegesis. More details will follow in the coming weeks so stay tuned!

SO, the purpose of this blog, as I mentioned in my update post this is a digital diary of my research. There will be diagrams, pictures, thoughts, notes, posts based on advocacy issues that are relevant to the Advocacy Lab that is part of the honours program. If you have any comments, questions or have interest in my research feel free to contact me.

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