Affinity Space Reflection

After consistently sporadic involvement with my affinity space,, I have found more and more enjoyment and value in the diversity of topics, varied perspectives and real world lessons and resources that are available through the site.  The content is near addicting due to the contributions coming primarily from other classroom educators.  Many of whom share similar issues and interests, but each person brings their own individualized skills and strategies to the group..  It is easy to go down the rabbit hole in perusing different topics and trends.  At first impression, the breadth of content was a concern of mine due to the scarcity of responses to some threads.  This has transitioned into opportunities for involvement in the various discussion groups. is a true community with participants lending support and advice in reference to difficult situations and sharing in accomplishments and successes.  The toxicity that plagues other affinity spaces is absent from this network.  The culture is more of a support group than any individual or group attempting to exert dominance or status..  It can best be summed up as teachers teaching teachers.

The only criticism is still the lack of depth with some threads.  There appears to be a shared mentality among many members that a single response to a post is sufficient in addressing the posters query.  This is occasionally the case, but often further exploration is warranted and in many discussions this development is lacking.

Teachers inherently want to share  knowledge and is the digital embodiment of this notion.


A One-Sided Coin?

Scholarly Critique 4

After being inspired by Cycle 4’s readings and the positives associated with game play, I pursued this theme.  The benefits as depicted in Bavelier et al’s article, “Brain Plasticity Through the Life Span: learning to Learn and Action Video Games” caused me to reevaluate my earlier notions on the effects of games.  Further exploration led me to Mark Griffiths’ article, “The Educational Benefits of Videogame”.  This article builds on the benefits demonstrated in hand eye coordination and reaction time, and examines the direct benefits between video games and actual educational skills.

Griffiths article relied heavily upon research previously conducted by A. Pope in 2001 where they presented 22 boys and girls with PlayStation games and had them play 40 one hour sessions.  They then compared their baseline brain wave patterns with post play data.  The results were conclusive in that the test group exhibited higher brain activity with a decrease in impulsiveness and hyperactivity.  This increased brain activity in turn allows learners to focus more effectively on content thus increasing the efficacy of the learning process.

Griffith takes this information and applies benefits to specific skills.  The tools learned through gaming extend beyond an increase in brain activity. The tools learned in games are directly applicable to four core skills: language, math, reading and social.  Language is developed through following instructions, math relates back to score counters, reading is increased similarly to language with the potential for adding in affinity space involvement, and social is captured through the potential of discussing games and interacting with other gamers (Griffiths 2002).  Although skills are basic and there is little depth to Griffiths’ argument, the fundamental logic is sound.

This article is based on the premises that skills learned in games can span multiple settings.  Most notably, the skill transference between a videogame setting and how these acquired skills and practices are applicable to real world learning environments.  Likewise, this application can be extended to scenarios outside school walls and are essentially helping students with the metacognitive capabilities of learning how they learn.  Basic skills in language, math, reading and community are lesson that are applicable to all settings, digital or physical.

After various readings throughout INTE 5320 and additional related readings dealing with the effects of gaming, the positives in gameplay seem to far surpass any potential negatives.  Even the critique of videogames being detrimental to eyesight has been reversed.  The question then begs to be asked as to how videogames first acquired such a negative designation in the 1980s and 1990s and why the sudden reversal in conclusions.  There are two sides to every coin.  The total discount of any negatives associated with videogames is troubling and calls the motivation and credibility of current research into question.

Not Quite Oregon Trail Quality

Play Journal 2: Civilization Revolution 2 (For Ipad)

With much of the research pertaining to games in the classroom revolving around Rise of Nations and the Civilization games, I thought it interesting to experience one of these games first hand.  I chose Civilization Revolution 2 due to an article recently read that uses Civilization 3 as the media for the study (“Changing the Game: What Happens when Video Games Enter the Classroom?” by Kurt Squire).  The game, as most are probably aware, revolves around building historical civilizations and achieving victory in a variety of manners that include everything from warfare to cultural and technological victories.  In order to successfully obtain these victories, a certain level of historical prowess is required.  To aid in this aspect, there are informational blurbs that the player can access and use to create more well-informed decisions.  The game begins slowly with few resources, inhabitants and other conflicts, but it rapidly snowballs and increases in complexity and challenge.  The overall feel of the game is very reminiscent to other turn-based strategy games with simply more of an historical approach.

There is the possibility that I just don’t have the patience for video games anymore.  I miss the days of Donkey Kong or Super Mario Brothers where anyone with half a brain and 10 minutes can conquer the basic skills to be successful.  Through playing Civ 2, I lost interest very early on, primarily due to the overwhelming number of icons, screens, status bars and other distractions from the main conflict of the game.  I am certain that with time, the different elements would become second nature.  To the novice though, they were a distraction and deterred from the more pleasurable aspects of the game.  The historical content that was included was incredibly interesting and provided an interesting context to the overall playing environment.  The game, overall, did a great job of blending learning elements with a video game.  It is no wonder that educators have turned to the Civilization games to help introduce World History topics.  With the proper upfront training, this game style has the potential to be incredibly engaging and informative.  In many areas, it reminds me of the classic Oregon Trail video game.

My largest critique of the game revolves around the tutorial.  It was far too elementary and left many unanswered questions.  So much so, that I aborted the tutorial and took on the game learning through trial and error.  Had the tutorial been more effective, I believe the overall experience would have been much more gratifying.

Although, not identical in applications, this game does spark an interest to design using technology.  Just as seen in Avan Alex Game’s article pertaining to Gamestar Mechanic, the experience revolves around design.  Of course, in Gamestar Mechanic it all about designing games and in Civ 2 it is all about designing civilizations.  Nonetheless, both games tap a player’s interest to create something new.  This design element provides the opportunity for autonomy which is crucial in game play.  Civilization 2 has the potential to be a phenomenal resource in the World History classroom with the caveat that it will be an enormous investment in time for students to get up to speed and to start acquiring knowledge through the game.