Thursday, August 11, 2005

Games, education & mlearning

A blog by Greg Costikyan via the mobile-weblog brought into focus several important things that I needed to think through. I have always had an interest in the use of games in education. I was familiar with the work of Marc Prensky on the use of games for learning, well before attending his informative session and workshop at last year’s efest. Living with two teenages also means that I have been continually exposed to the evolution of PC based games, game consoles and multi-user game platforms.

Greg’s various
presentations and writings are an excellent resource for researchers into the field of game design. Of especial interest to educators, is a link to Chris Crawford’s seminal book on game design. Although written in 1982, the precepts of game design outlined in his book still hold true and many of the ideas and concepts he puts forward have great relevance to how educators could improve in their engagement of learners.

Greg’s most recent work has been in the development of mobile games. The main gist of his blog is about how mobile phones are (as yet) not designed for playing games on. We could say the same for education, mobile phones are firstly a mobile communication devise. All the other add-ons that current mobile phones are sold with, are basically accessories to the phone. What game designers and educators are trying to do, is to use the mobile phone as a tool for their own purposes. We are therefore trying to fit in the restrictions of mobile phones, rather than thinking about how mobile phones could be configured to help promote socially constructive learning /gaming.

The other thing Greg brought up was the multiple platforms (operating systems) that have multiplied with the number of brands and models of mobile phones. Google brought up thousands of sites to download mobile games. I did a quick check of a couple like
games loft and my phone games. All of them had specific phone models you clicked on to access the games that would be downloadable onto that specific phone. It does not bode well for anyone thinking about putting together interactive learning games for use on mobile phones.

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