Edtech 532-4172: Educational Games and Simulations

Dr. David Gibson and Chris Haskell

Contact Information/Office Hours:

Dr. David Gibson: Phone: 802-598-8559 / Email: david.gibson@curveshift.com / SL: Futcha Rhodes / or Facebook

Chris Haskell Office: E-304 (Education Building) / Phone: 426-4217 / /Email: chrishaskell@boisestate.edu

Office Hours: Tuesday & Thursday, 10:00am-12:00noon / please feel free to add me as a friend in you Facebook and message me if you need assistance. / AIM:Haskellboise / Skype: Chris Haskell / SL: Dalai Haskell

This course requires synchronous meetings in Second Life Wednesdays from 6:00PM to 8:00PM Mountain Time/5:00PM to 7:00PM Pacific Time (Second Life Time).

Course Description and Prerequisites: Edtech 532 explores the theory and implementation of educational games, simulations, and virtual environments for improved instructional engagement. It includes evaluation methods and socio-cultural implications. This course uses a hands-on approach to explore the theories of educational gaming, and the practical aspects of evaluating and implementing games, simulations, and virtual environments for teaching and learning.  The course is organized AS A game, with challenges, tasks, rewards and other aspects of game-based learning, in order to facilitate exploration and research INTO games. We will examine how educators can leverage students’ interests in digital culture to extend their learning and keep them engaged. Participants will explore the foundational, social and cultural implications of these new media. Gaming is required.

Course Materials (including hardware/software requirements):

(Recommended) Games and Simulations in Online Learning: Research & Development Frameworks edited by Gibson, Aldrich, Prensky

ISBN 1-59904-304-1 (hardcover)
ISBN 1-59904-305-X (soft cover)
ISBN 1-59904-306-8 (ebook)

(Optional) Digital Game-Based Learning (First Edition) by Marc Prensky

ISBN: 0071454004

(Optional) Learning by Doing: A Comprehensive Guide to Simulations, Computer Games, and Pedagogy in e-Learning and Other Educational Experiences by Clark Aldrich

ISBN-10: 0787977357

Course Objectives:

  • Demonstrate an awareness of current trends and research in educational gaming.
  • Analyze various social issues and factors associated with educational games and simulations.
  • Identify and evaluate games and simulations appropriate to various teaching and learning contexts.
  • Identify features of virtual worlds appropriate for teaching and learning.
  • Design educational gaming activities and/or applications that successfully engage learners and are appropriate to their discipline.
  • Support the professional development of other educators in the area of educational games and simulations.
  • Create a virtual world resource to support educational technologists, emphasizing educational gaming and simulations.

Quest-Based Learning/Quest Tracking Tool

We will be using a game-based format for scoring. Rather than focusing on a percentage of possible points against a total (which serves as a form of subtractive scoring) this course will score more like a game. You will gain experience points for completed assignments. The number of activities available to you is flexible. You may choose to do a handful of more difficult or complex activities and assignments which offer higher XP or a large number of simpler artifacts with a lower average XP. There will be no modules, chapters, or other overt structures by which assignments will be transmitted or collected.

You will have the ability to choose your activities based on interest, skill set, type, comfort, and other factors. These “quests” will range from short and simple, to graduated or sequenced, to more complex and time consuming. Many larger activities will be broken into a sequence of smaller, more achievable elements. Some of these elements will take as little as 15 minutes to complete.

We will also be using a quest tracking tool created to allow "player" selection of quests, XP tracking, and submission of completed activities. This tool also serve as a grade book for the course. A login link is available in the course Moodle menu.

Premise and General Approach to the Course

The course is a game. Specifically, a role-play scenario in the style of an MMORPG where user choice plays an important role in the narrative we create. It is our belief that just talking about game-based learning is insufficient to help create understanding and appreciation of the theory, pedagogy, and affordances of game-base learning.

You and your colleagues will serve a 16 week tour aboard Skylab-ET, a state-of-the-art orbital platform that will serve as the basis for our research into game and simulation-based learning. You have each been sent to construct your own understanding of gaming and learning to take back to your various institutions and stakeholders, so the outcome of your research will vary. However, working together with your Skylab colleagues you will hopefully share experiences that stretch the bounds of our collective understanding of what role gaming and learning play in the future of education, how current tools can be brought to bear, and what pedagogical approaches look like. Our aim is to create a virtual space where this learning can exist. You are the pioneers.

Types of activities:

  • Solo-Questing: (Ongoing) Quests that can be completed any time. These activities will include reading, watching videos, reflections, visiting locations and exploring, playing specific games, etc.
  • Group-Questing: (Weekly, Ongoing, and/or scheduled) These will include reading-based discussions, jigsaw activities, exploration, voicethread activities, etc. We would schedule at least one of these each week.
  • Raiding: (Scheduled) These are larger activities that require a facilitator and would be attended by everyone. (**This allows for an organized effort through core curriculum because it is scheduled and only offered once.)
  • Peer-coaching/support (Weekly, Ongoing, and/or Scheduled): As players gain rank, they have the opportunity to act as guides for others and receive XP. They can lead raids, present findings, and support others in their charge. This peer mentoring can be credited and earn even more rank.
  • Quest-building: Also as players reach a specific rank, they will have the ability to create quests for others to complete. Asspecific pursuits yield new knowledge, they can add activities to the existing categories.

Each week we will begin and end with briefings(to maintain contact with the students), hold specific activities (raids, quests, etc), and give opportunity for completion of quests. Reflection will play an important role in the may quests and activities as those assigned to Skylab-ET try to make sense of the world and ideas they are exploring. This will come orally and through blogging. Participants will be able to explore areas of interest and still have similar experiences. Keep in mind, the station will be open for activities 24 hours a day seven days a week to allow them to pursue your study and interests. Scheduled station (class) meetings will offer an opportunity for shared experience, reflection, socialization, and guidance.

Categories of Exploration:

  • Explorer - Activities to allow players to explore and "play" different types of games to build a vocabulary of gaming (text-adventure, platformer, shooter, etc). This category will also include exploration within the Second Life space, away trips to unique locations, hunt and gather missions, and other exploratory behaviors.
  • Scholar - Include activities that center around core knowledge like Bransford's "How People Learn", GBL, 3-part model, Bateman's DGD1, Chatfield's 7 Ways to Reward the Brain, and other emerging elements worth including in the discussion.
  • Builder - Constructing and customizing environments requires special knowledge and skill. Activities will support the learning of basic building and scripting skills within Second Life.
  • Designer- Specific to game experiences, the designer activities are associated with those activities that create content in and around the game space.

Shared Artifacts (Products):

  • Personal Learning Theory Model (Several pages with graphic) posted digitally.
  • Game-based Learning Analysis (2 to 5 pages) You choose a game or simulation that interests you and then apply your personal theory of learning to create an analysis.)
  • Your Game Model (This is the major production piece of the course. It can be an actual pilot game, a research paper on and a GBL analysis of an existing game model, a design framework for a new game or for an A++, a combination of all three. Final presentation of this work will be offered to the class as a SL lecture-performance-or media event. The product should utilize your Personal Learning Theory and address both Aldrich's 3-part model and Prensky's GBL model).
  • Weekly Reflections via Blog (your choice of which Blogosphere to use; can be video, text, audio, etc.)

Posting feedback to your peers in this course.

Course Grading

We will be using a game-based format for scoring. Rather than focusing on a percentage of possible points against a total (which serves as a form of deductive scoring) this course will score more like a game. You will gain experience points for completed quests.

Your final grade will be a product of your experience points (XP) AND submitting your Game Model. Failure to submit a completed Game Model will result in an INCOMPLETE or a failing grade at the discretion of the instructor. Due to the unique sequencing of course material, all assignments will be due at the completion of the class as part of the Game Model.

XP Rank Grade
2000+ Captain A
1750 Chief B
1500 Lieutenant C
1250 Officer D
1000 Ensign F
700 Crew 2  
500 Crew 1  
300 Recruit 2  
200 Recruit 1  
100 Candidate FC  
0-99 Candidate  

Absences feature heavily into the grading system. In order to help maintain an environment by which each student can be successful, regular class attendance is vital. Two absences will be permitted without penalty. On the third absence, a full letter grade will be deducted from the final grade. Each additional absence after the third will result in an additional letter grade loss per occurrence.

By policy, this excludes University sanctioned absences for clubs, sports, or other academic endeavors as well as severe illness, extreme personal hardship, or other extenuating circumstances beyond the control of the student.


Course Policies

Procedures - 

Communication – Department policy  - instructors will respond to emails and/or phone calls in a timely manner – usually within 24 hours (weekdays, but may be longer on a weekend or with advance notice to students).

Posting of Assignments – Department policy – major assignments will be posted at least one week in advance of the assignment due date.

Assignment Submissions - Major assignments will be submitted through the Moodle course site through the appropriate collectors.

Feedback/grades – Department policy – Students must be informed of their progress toward the final course grade at regular intervals. Assignments will be reviewed and evaluated by the instructor within one week after the posted assignment due date.

Late assignments –All late assignments will not be accepted, save arrangements have been with Dr. Gibson prior to the due date or exceptional currcumstances exist.

Technical Difficulties –Please contact the instructor's if you experience any technical difficulties.

Academic Honesty – all students are required to abide by Boise State University's Student Code of Conduct on academic dishonesty. Assignments completed must be your original work and cannot be used in other courses in the EdTech program.

Reasonable Accommodations - Any student who feels s/he may need accommodations based on the impact of a disability should contact me privately to discuss your specific needs. You will also need to contact the Disability Resource Center at 208-426-1583 located in the Administration Building, room 114 to meet with a specialist and coordinate reasonable accommodations for any documented disability.

Conceptual Framework

College of Education - The Professional Educator
 Boise State University strives to develop knowledgeable educators who integrate complex roles and dispositions in the service of diverse communities of learners. Believing that all children, adolescents, and adults can learn, educators dedicate themselves to supporting that learning. Using effective approaches that promote high levels of student achievement, educators create environments that prepare learners to be citizens who contribute to a complex world. Educators serve learners as reflective practitioners, scholars and artists, problem solvers, and partners.

Department of Educational Technology Mission
The Department of Educational Technology supports the study and practice of facilitating and improving learning of a diverse population by creating, using, managing, and evaluating appropriate technological processes and resources. Believing technology is a tool that enhances and expands the educational environment, we promote the use of current and emergent technologies for teaching and learning in a dynamic global society. Educational technologists are leaders and innovators, serving in institutions of higher education, public or private school settings, federal, state, or local educational agencies, and educational organizations in the private sector.