Games and Learning: Final Reflection

As I close out the last semester of my graduate program, I reflect.

My Games and Learning course forced me to face something I’ve always hated. Today, I still don’t particularly like games though “hate” might be a little strong. The past fourteen weeks have challenged me to think differently about games, their design, the people who play them, and, how they affect our ability to learn and interact with one another in both physical and virtual spaces.

I’ve come to terms with who I am as a non-gamer Through various media and online collaboration, (Canvas LMS, Twitter, blogs, hypothes.is), research, theory, critique, and play, I can now:

  • Define and distinguish characteristics of game-based learning designs and experiences.
  • Identify connections among games and affinity spaces.
  • Read literature associated with various games and find learning themes and trends.
  • Discuss challenges and opportunities of games in professional settings.
  • Assess implications of games and play for my personal and professional learning.

Through my on-going engagement and reflection of play,

I discovered that winning doesn’t necessarily matter so much as long as you’re having fun. In, Why fun matters: in search of emergent playful experiences, Fizek (2014) defined fun, in reference to games as “an enjoyable emotional reaction deriving from the capacity to engage in playful behavior, which emerges out of the interaction with the game” (p. 279). My playfulness resulted in a memorable experience, which can most mundane takes more interesting and memorable.

Engaging and reflecting in play made me realize my practice of fun and playfulness impacts my attitude, opinions, and mood, which ultimately impacts those around me.

Hypothes.is.

Logistically, I struggled a bit with hypothes.is. Things like notifications, browser compatibility, and readability proved to be difficult.  As annotations grew, I found it hard to keep up with all the moving parts (synthesizing content while attempting to engage in meaningful dialogue). I often felt behind and overwhelmed. I’m not sure what would have made this more manageable. Perhaps open annotated discussions, like some games, aren’t for everyone.

While these activities were challenging, I can see the value in it’s unique style of discussion. It creates limitless possibilities for gaining and sharing knowledge outside of traditional media outlets and educational systems.

I wonder how I would approach open annotations in the future when, the weight of a grade isn’t hanging over my head.

Affinity Space.

The majority of my time spent in Photoblog was spent posting blogs, commenting and following others’ blogs, overall site exploration, participation in community discussion threads, earning badges, and learning about photography related topics. With the time I spent in this space, I conclude that Photoblog is what Gee and Hayes (2012) referred to as a “nurturing affinity space” (p.8). It’s friendly, diverse, welcoming, and easy to contribute (whether blogging or discussing).

Gee and Hayes (2012) also argued that “human learning becomes deep, and often life changing, when it’s connected to a nurturing affinity space” (p. 8). My involvement in Photoblog thus far may not have been life changing but I can see how, with continuous involvement, participants in this space get value from producing and consuming each others’ experiences, ultimately contributing to deep learning and growth.

In the end,

My Games and Learning course forced me to face something I’ve never really enjoyed. And, challenged me to think differently about how games impact learning. Had the course been more traditional (reading, lectures, quizzes, etc.) I’d probably end the course with the same opinions I had fourteen weeks ago. But, because of the nature of the class –our very own affinity space if you will– I now look at games with a different set of eyes. I see how the act of play is absolutely essential for learning throughout life.

Never stop having fun. Never stop learning.

 

Please visit my Games and Learning portfolio to learn more and view sample work that supports the above.

 


 

Gee, J. P., & Hayes, E. (2012). Nurturing Affinity Spaces and Game-Based Learning. Games, Learning, and Society, 129-153. doi:10.1017/cbo9781139031127.015

 

Fizek, S. 2014. Why fun matters: in search of emergent playful experiences. In: M. Fuchs, S. Fizek, P. Ruffino, and N. Schrape. Eds. Rethinking Gamification. Lüneburg: Meson Press. pp.273-287.

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