Why Simulations and Games for Learning?

Educational games and simulations offer the following contributions to learning:

  1. They simplify reality;
  2. They offer experience that is personally meaningful, experiential, social, and epistemological, all at the same time;
  3. They provide an environment in which students are guided and supported by the knowledge built into the virtual characters and worlds; to succeed, they must apply the epistemic frame (activities, values, and ways of thinking);
  4. They provide environments in which skills and knowledge of expertise are distributed between the virtual characters and the real-world student;
  5. They provide a model of learning through meaningful activity in virtual worlds as preparation for meaningful activity in the real world;
  6. They provide environments in which facts and information evolve naturally out of our experience;
  7. They provide experiences in which novices learn the ways experts make sense of problems and achieve success;
  8. They provide opportunities for the development of situated understanding, integrating ways of knowing, ways of doing, ways of being, ways of caring, and ways of thinking to become an expert; and
  9. They provide situations in which experts learn to reexamine critical junctures where their understanding is incomplete or ineffective in dealing with new or problematic situations and to then reorganize their ways of thinking to face atypical problems and achieve success.

Developed from Shaffer, D., and Squire, K., Halverson, R., and Gee, J. 2005. Video Games and the Future of Learning. WCER Working Paper 2005-4.

Starting in 2006, the Engage Innovation Engaging to Learn: Simulations and Games Award worked with instructors from across campus on a variety of educational simulations and games to provide solutions to disciplinary teaching and learning challenges. Award projects focused on adapting existing technology for specific learning goals, examining self-contained games and simulations, and researching the effect of existing simulations and games on learning.

Through community events, they also discussed community needs for building, adapting and utilizing games and simulations in higher education. Using rapid prototyping processes, Engage develop games and simulations with award participants. The develop process focused on:

  • defining learning outcomes;
  • developing a pedagogical approach;
  • sketching a basic framework for how the game or simulation
    might behave;
  • providing a rough estimate of development costs; and
  • understanding the issues surrounding the creation, deployment, and pedagogical value of instructional game and simulations