Friday, March 31, 2017

EDTECH 532- Learning Theory Mashup

Learning Theory Mash-Up

Over the course of my studies in the Masters of Educational Technology at Boise State, I have been exposed to several different learning theories.  Discussing these theories have been an essential part of several courses I have taken.  In this post, I will “mash- up” two such theories that resonate with my own philosophy of education.  Specifically, I will look at Lave and Wenger’s Community of Practice theory and Bloom’s Mastery of Learning Theory.

Lave and Wenger theorize that it is our desire to belong to a certain group that motivates us to learn (Communities of Practice, 2016).  In turn, we create natural learning communities where those who desire knowledge can reach out and learn from others.  We often see this behaviour in gaming communities where players can improve their proficiency by seeking help in online forums and communities.  They are motivated to become more integrated in that gaming community itself.  For example, I was once a member of a gaming “clan” when playing Medal of Honor a decade ago.  Within our clans forums, I learned more and more about the game and as my knowledge grew, my stature within the clan did as well.  

Bloom’s taxonomy is well known and has always been part of my foundation as an educator. Simply put, the learner will gain proficiency in at a certain level of their learning before advancing to the next, higher level of learning. (Mastery Learning, n.d).  This is also very evident in the world of gaming.  To proceed to the next level of a game, the player must first master the current level they are on.  They will continue at that current level until the game deems they are proficient enough to move on.  This concept of scaffolding is ever present in both the educational and gaming realms.

When we mash these two theories together, I feel we achieve something akin to “Communities of Mastery”.  To acquire the desired knowledge or to reach the next level, we need our communities assistance.  We achieve clout within our community when she share the knowledge we have already acquired.  Both of these ideas serve as motivators for learner and teacher.  In the end, we want to achieve the highest level of mastery we can.  These goals also serve as motivators for both learner and player alike.

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Communities of Practice (Lave and Wenger). (2016, June 29). Retrieved March 31, 2017, from Learning Theories,

Mastery learning. (2017, March 25). Retrieved March 31, 2017, from Wikipedia,

Sunday, March 26, 2017

EDTECH 532- Simulation Games 2- Real Time Strategy Games

Real Time Strategy are very popular with gamers who want to immerse themselves in completely different environment.  These games require strategy and  resource management while continually advancing the player through harder and harder scenarios in other words, these games provide the player with a productive struggle.

For this challenge I played to of the suggested games. World of Warcraft II and Kingdom (Total War Battles).  Both these games had similar characteristics.  They require the player to build human resources (ie craftsmen), natural resources(minerals, food, construction materials) and develop increasing battlefield capacity(stronger and stronger soldiers).  The other requirement for these simulations is time.  Players can easily play for hours at end, losing track of time.  Both of these games remind me of the Command and Conquer series of the mid 1990's which were very popular.  I believe the real secret to this genre's success is that create a viable reality withing the player.  You are whisked away to an alternate reality of sorts where you can quickly become assimilated.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

EDTECH 532-Action Games -Rytim Games

I played  Rhythm Fireworks 2 for awhile and was totally engrossed in matching keystrokes with the beat of the music.  This game is very similar to such video game hits Guitar Hero, Rock Band and Dance, Dance, revolution.  Although these games keep score, the real challenge is to keep in time with the music.  I would say they are more "pass time" than game.

Nintendo Wii really embraced this form of game in many of it's games. Some games demanded peripherals such as drum kits and guitars (Rock Band) or a mat in which you would step on arrows (DDR) that would make the user use their entire body.  I know elementary teachers that have used similar games during indoor recess, a phenomenon in Canada when the weather is too cold, to make sure students burn off excess energy.

These games have taken video games beyond just hand/eye coordination and incorporated a full body experience which requires concentration and physical coordination.  It will be interesting to see where this genre takes us to in the future.

EDTECH 532- Action Games- Driving

I forgot how much I like driving games.  Playing "Shut Up and Drive" reminded me of the arcade game "Outrun".  I think the attraction of a good racing game, like any game really, is it transports the player to a place they will probably never visit.  That is to say, the seat of a high performance race car.  Driving a car is actually a mundane task and like most people, I have been behind the wheel of my own car, and wished I could just blow by everyone

Although the sounds and the graphics are not realistic, our imagination gets captured within racing games and we are competing as if the situation were real. Racing games can be pure fantasy as well. For example, Mario Cart is one of the most popular racing games ever and it's premise is completely far-fetched.  Who can imagine a race scenario between people, dinosaurs, apes, etc in small go carts could be so compelling. Nintendo tapped into something powerful when it allowed the players to use special powers they could collect which are designed to keep everyone in the race.

Racing each other has been part of our collective experience for ever.  Ancient Greeks created the olympics, every kid races his brothers and sisters, to the door, etc It is only natural that racing games are popular with us as well

Sunday, March 5, 2017

EDTECH 532- Action Games 4 Fighting Games

I have never been a big fan of fighting games. This may because by the time Mortal Combat came out, I was in High School and playing video games became less and less of an attraction for me.  I did play the embedded  Karate Champ for awhile until I became frustrated enough to quit.  I couldn't really figure out the controls very well.  I then downloaded Brawhalla on Steam and played it for quite a while.

In the beginning, fighting games appear to be mindless games that require no skill but I have gained an appreciation for the strategy required to be successful in these games.  Instead of just punching, hitting and kicking without thinking, a successful player must actually be observant and react to what the enemy is doing.  This is very evident in the iPad game Infinity Blade.

Like all successful games, Infinity Blade gradual increases in difficulty, scaffolds the experience for the user and provides gradually increasingly abilities and rewards in the form of more powerful swords, armor, etc.

In the end, I won't be playing anymore fighting games in the near future, but it was fun to revisit this genre.