I am helping a game-based learning client work on a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation grant (thank you for the tip, Anne Derryberry). My thoughts are connected to our Games Can Teach blog’s on-going discussions concerning the definition of game-based learning and the different types of gaming as well as the research needed. To be sure, there have been ample grants to universities for various studies on the aspects of video games and learning which has provided evidence based research to act on. This interest in video games and learning has had an influence on my practice. We recently developed a new version of an ATOD prevention curriculum, which in 2004 used arcade games to reinforce the lecture style slide shows. In the reinvented version, our team embedded the learning within one exploratory game that utilized video game design mechanics to promote higher level thinking on the part of students. Promoting higher level thinking (see Bloom’s Taxonomy) is a key differentiator between edutainment and immersive or serious educational games.
Research grant inspiration? My recommendation to my client was to look at Mary Jo Dondlinger’s review of the Game design literature for the Journal of Applied Educational Technology and to read Richard Van Eck’s 2006 EDUCASE article on digital game based learning: “What is needed now is (1) research explaining why DGBL is engaging and effective, and (2) practical guidance for how (when, with whom, and under what conditions) games can be integrated into the learning process to maximize their learning potential. We are ill-prepared to provide the needed guidance because so much of the past DGBL research, though good, has focused on efficacy (the message that games can be effective) rather than on explanation (why and how they are effective) and prescription (how to actually implement DGBL).”