My Interview on the May 17th Excelsior College Games Symposium

As a follow up to last week’s post on Excelsior College’s coming up webinar on games in education, I was happy to speak with Mike Lesczinski on my thoughts about this year’s symposium topics.  Prepared for answers, Mike asked me to share my favorite aspects of last year’s session, where I fall on the topic of gamification, how I believe colleges/universities should be using games in education, as well as much more.  If you would like to hear the full interview, I encourage you to visit Excelsior’s page, otherwise, I have went ahead and given you the highlights of my thoughts here.

First of all, I would like to say how much I appreciate what Excelsior College is doing to bring awareness to games in education.  It is pretty incredible when a smaller college is able to create an event that is not only expected to bring a lot of interest from a certain professional realm, but furthermore, that can bridge the gap between different types of thinkers with different passions.  Though I feel that I fall in the middle of the spectrum of the educational and business minded professionals that have interest in games and simulations, it is interesting to think of the specifics that drive these professionals to encourage game use in their separate communities.  In both aspects, it is important to think about HOW we can take aspects from let’s say, video games, and apply them to real world needs and problems, instead of simply, WHY it can be effective.  Furthermore, with the expense that is tied to video game creation, how can we effectively build engines/tools that will allow us to build more serious, immersive games, on a budget.  The question that needs to be answered is: “How do we incorporate what video games do well…in a cost effective manner?”

So what’s the solution?  Someone needs to apply for a grant, and then use that grant to look at what tools exist to build games.  I believe that the most important aspect of a game is the systems thinking, the branching, the tools…where do these come from?  The subject matter experts.  We, as game designers, need to separate the programming and coding from the content development which is just as important, if not more important.  Figure out how to write a really amazing branched scenario that students can experience either in class or online.  Use this scenario to connect to real life situations, so that students can produce a solution/answer to the problem while playing.  The more your content reflects realistic problems, the more the solutions and/or consequences will speak to and engage your learners.

These ideas are reflected in a recent ethics simulation that our company, Web Courseworks, Ltd., had created for the National Court Reporters Assocation.  NCRA came to us with the question of how they could attract more members, and then they needed to focus on what the game was going to be about.

Currently, the biggest issues facing court reporters are the ethical behavior and decision making that takes place in the field.  Again, though, the first problem was how to attract people to their association.  The reality behind games right now is that there is a lot of buzz around them.  They draw attention and therefore, they become something good to embrace.

So, to close, I’m incredibly excited for this symposium.  Excelsior College is not only bringing together academics, but also people from the private sector.  The panel should be informative and engaging, and I’m grateful that I get to be a part of it.

Managing eLearning is written by the Blog team at Web Courseworks which includes Jon Aleckson and Jillian Bichanich.  Ideas and concepts are originated and final copy reviewed by Jon Aleckson.