Rando Follow-Up: Technology, Games, and Education

This is the first follow-up article for the Rando series.  In these follow-up posts, I will look back on the previous posts, try to clarify anything that I didn’t convey clearly, talk about any new information on them, or anything else that must be said.  I will also touch on a few topics that I didn’t write about before because I only do three posts per unit, or they didn’t come to my attention until after I had already chosen the three main points for the subject. Finally, I will share some thoughts on the subject as a whole.  After that will be any brief news, and the announcement of the next subject.

So, the topic of this subject was how technology and games can affect education.  Being the first subject of the series, I don’t think I really did a very good job at making meaningful statements about it, and this certainly isn’t all that there is to be said about this subject, but more on that later.  Now, I will start on the first article on the subject, and first in the series: E-Learning days.

Rando Post No. 1: E-Learning Days

This is mostly what I was referring to with the meaningful statements thing before.  I was pretty peeved when I wrote it, so it was mostly me just ranting about how my high school was handling its one-to-one technology initiative with snow days.  On the other hand, I do think that it may be a good example of Maslow’s hammer.  In this case, the school has the hammer of technology and the Internet, but this isn’t really the ideal solution this time.  When most people think of “abusing technology,” they think of nuclear war and robot uprisings.  I think of the small things that are already happening, like this, and most of the “Internet of Things.”  If the use of technology doesn’t improve the experience, then it shouldn’t be used in that way.

Rando Post No. 2: Gamification in Education

For the future, I intend for most of the posts to be more like this one: thoughtful, researched, and most importantly, actually arguing a point.  This one was made in this way because I was researching for an eight-page paper on the subject when I wrote it.  I do have some more to say about it, though.  After further research, beginning with this article, which I linked to at the end of Rand Post No. 2, I found a more compelling way to gamify education.  Most of the time, the game and the educational material are so separate that the game part just seems shoe-horned in.  However, sometimes developers are clever and sneaky, and manage to make the educational material inseparable from the mechanics.  My favorite example of this is Kerbal Space Program.  It taught me far more about orbital mechanics than high school physics class; in fact, I just ignored that chapter, and still aced the test.

Rando Post No. 3: Those Life Experience Things that Your School Made You Go Through

This one was also too much of a rant.  This one was kind of meant to be a counterpoint to the last one.  You still have to try as hard to design a game that is educational as one that is not, even if you do use the shoe-horn method.  It was also a counterpoint to the first one, in that one of its examples, Reality Store (TM)(R)(C)(E 10+), which was a situation where using technology to store data, e.g. if you have a car or not, and weed out the “Life’s Unexpected” possibilities that wouldn’t make sense.  However, that could possibly detract from its value of being a field trip for students.  On a different note, Junior Achievement probably shouldn’t have been part of the post.  As I said in the post itself, it wasn’t really problematic.  At the same time though, it’s hardly a role model for other events.  It just exists.

Overall, this being the first subject, it was hit-and-miss for me.  I may revisit this subject again in the future because of these shortcomings, and also because of just how wide the scope of the subject is to begin with.  In other news, as part of the move to sound at least a bit more thoughtful in the future, and also because it no longer makes sense, the name “Rando” for the series is subject to change.  It’s technically not even a word, and the new structured nature of the series makes it no longer random.  The change will come probably in between the next subject and the one after it.  I will announce the new title in the next subject’s follow-up.

That’s all for education, for now anyway.  Come back next week for the first post in the subject of children and adults, on the topic of how children think of “you can be anything you want” differently than adults do; a good topic to follow from education.