These are my notes from Dr. Dodge’s presentation at MacWorld 2007

– games v learning
– an equation for learning power
– five useful environments (things you can use to create a gamey/simulation)

Brendal Laurel
– Dec 2004
– often the games we see kids engaged in don’t really challenge them to think more deeply and critically about the world and their place in it

Good Games vs Good Teaching
– engagement
– unforgettableness
– positive emotion

You don’t have to have technology to engage kids, however

Games also have a dark side
– taken to an extreme games can be quite dysfunctional

one of my favorite thinkers on this topic: Mark Prensky
– distinguishes between mini-games and complex games
– mini-games take less than one hour, have simple content
— examples: card games (except Bridge), quiz/trivia games, board games (except Chess and Go)
— lots of the games you see on National Geographic and NASA are at this level, taking a small amount of content

Complex games: most digital immigrants haven’t spent a lot of time playing these
– rquire learning a wide variety of strategies and skills
– develop mastery by progressing through a series of levels
– include ethical dilemmas and choices
– take 10 to 100 hours to complete
– examples: Sims, World of Warcraft, Rise of Nations (Civilizations series), Madden
– often these games become the foundation of conversations students have
– you know these are very complex and there is a lot going on there

Showed “no” symbol over backside of person wearing jenas

Problem is really about TIME: the most precious commodity we have
– that constrains everything
– refine that more: brain minutes

ADA should really about brain minutes: number of minutes minds are actively engaged in learning

Learning Power Equation
– P = ADE
– Learning Power = Attention x Depth x Efficiency

took me awhile to arrive at this, since I’ve been grappling with this for some time

– proportion of time learners spend looking at, listening to, and thinking about what you want them to
– ranges from 0 to 1 where 1 is perfect attention

Causes of attention, what leads us to “attend”
– variability
– competition
– social interaction
– human interest
– uncertainty
– challenge

These are all elements of a good game

Think of it as a ratio: Attention = (brain minutes spent attending to X) divided by (total brain minutes)

– the degree to which thinking is required (shows traditional Bloom’s taxonomy)
– ranges from 0 to 100

Curricular Efficiency
– the proportion of time learners have to spend thinking about what you’re trying to teach
– Efficiency = (Brain minutes devoted to curriculum) divided by (total brain minutes)
– a totally efficient game would cause you to focus on the curricular aspects, and no attention on the mechanics of how to play the game

A perfect game would be 1 x 100 x 1 = 100

I teach a course on educational simulations and games at SDSU
– Star Logo TNG (the next generation) was first of the three environments
– the Logo revolution in the 1980s with turtle programming was something I never rallied around
– the claims that were made for that were so revolutionary it left a dry taste in people’s mouths
– being developed at MIT

Programming by building blocks
– build programs by locking together different bricks that do different things
– has an interesting elegance to it

Kids or you can create controls that permit you to manipulate variables
– I would like to show you the program but I didn’t want to risk crashing my computer when presenting
– this demo: how germs spread when you don’t wash your hands

So this is a highly attention-getting way to get kids engaged in focusing on these health issues
– includes graphing

How many people played Zork years ago?
– latest version is Inform 7
– design system for interactive fiction
– one-window user interface
– stories are built by writing natural English-language sentences
– write on the left
– combination of telling a good story, but also using logic to create an engaging environment
– people have done this to create deep, rich interactive literature

Think about using this to describe what it feels like to wake up in a third world country

Second Life
– is no longer a deep, dark secret
– started integrating this into my course a year ago
– in the past month or two, SL has been on the cover of Business WEek
– Massively Multiplayer Platform (environment) where people can look like what they want
– one of the things you get to think about in SL is your identity, who are you and what would you like to look like

I outsourced this, for $300 I hired someone in Hawaii to build this building for the virtual SDSU
– the Linden dollars now has a GDP larger than some member nations of the UN

Prototype of a webquest in a 3D environment (Meet the Immigrants)
– you take on the personna of different people. People can pass you notes and let you change your physical appearance
– let students
– people still don’t seem to know what to do with SL educationally, it requires a sound pedagogical backdrop like WebQuests
– have a lecture hall, you can present in SL

– mathematics of scaling, geometry
– great/fun way to treat scaling and geometry
– put on theater productions of different types without physical props and costumes
– now machinema: filming what is going on in 2L (record to a quicktime movie)
– people are staging productions in SL and bringing it into Final Cut and putting a soundtrack on it
– cross-cultural exchanges
– role plays

Educational applications for SL are still not there yet

now on to something that requires little ramp-up power

There were 250 different books in the “Choose Your Own Adventure” series
– this has even been adapted for training for Peace Corps volunteers

Choose Your Own Adventure
– now that Google docs exist, and pages exist that anyone can edit
– couldn’t you do a choose your own adventure on Google Docs?
– give kids the task of continuing the story!

I was one of the sysops for FredMail
– anyone remember FredMail?
– one of the cool things that happened in the early days (that can be replicated now with better technology)
– had a never ending story on the BBS
– one of the other kids in the project called Bernie to tell him that another kid had killed his character, “Winchester”

Also wikispaces
– I think Google Docs would be the coolest way to do this
– great way to teach writing and literature
– could be about science, literature, anything

The Glass Bead Game
– underground favorite novel of the 60s: Magister Ludi by Hermann Hesse (got him the Nobel Prize for literature)
– about imaginary future society so intellectually advanced is that people watch masters of the glass bead game play each other
– a kind of scrabble for ideas
– there is a board where you put down beads that represent different ideas or cultural artifacts
– you put down a bead next to another that has some kind of connection

Glass Bead eGame
– what would it look like?
– can use Inspiration or Gliffy
– is a version of Inspiration on the web, lets you put together flowcharts and the kind of thing you do with Inspiration
– you can share it on the web and also let others co-author your work

Make your own rules, like: Players rewward points based on the elegance of the linkages to other pieces
– can force students to think about metaphors and connections
– can also add hyperlinks to different game elements

I think this last game has high attention and depth, simple so there is high efficiency too

Remember: Power = Attention x Depth x Efficiency

Check out “Alice” at Cornell
– a little more programming oriented

Everything I showed today is FREE and can be done for zero dollars
– just made client software open source for SL a few days ago
– if you want to own land in SL, that is where they make money
– I am paying $40 a month for my virtual SDSU in SL

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2 Responses to Engaging Brains Through Games and Simulations by Bernie Dodge

  1. […] Wesley Fryer reports on a workshop by Bernie Dodge at Macworld […]

  2. […] Engaging Brains Through Games and Simulations by Bernie Dodge (Via Moving at the Speed of Creativity.) Bernie has been talking about (and teaching about) Games and Learning for some time, and it’s great to see him presenting the topic to mainstream (education) conference attendees. He discusses Brenda Laurel (who I’ve been reading a lot about lately in From Barbie to Mortal Kombat and Gender Inclusive Game Desing), complex games (a la Marc Prensky), the elements of a good game, Second Life, and more, including an interesting formula for learning: Power = Attention x Depth x Efficiency. […]

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