Sunday, February 21, 2016

Teachers Need To Level Up Too



When considering a digital game based learning curriculum, there are potentially many barriers. Curriculum requirements, game content, accessibility, and community support to name a few. But what about the teachers themselves? What kinds of teachers are using games in their classroom? Could the teachers be a barrier to the digital game based learning (DGBL) curriculum? An article I read last week from edutopia.org called “Strategies to Level Up Learning” by Matthew Farber briefly addressed some of these questions while examining a 2014 report titled “Level up learning: A national survey on teaching with digital games.” The article really piqued my interest because I am very interested in how adults are navigating DGBL as learners and also in teaching scenarios. The teachers who use DGBL in the classroom are referred to as GUTS or NUTS game-using teachers or non-game using teachers. I find it interesting how the teachers were classified and defined in a way that may affect DGBL. It’s easy to think of DGBL for elementary school in so many ways about children, but it also appears to be of utmost importance to include adults and teachers in order to understand a more complete picture of DGBL for K-8.

Source:Level up learning: A national survey on teaching with digital games

How teachers are characterized

The instructors surveyed were categorically profiled and defined as “Dabblers, Players, Barrier Busters, and Naturals.” The article did not go into great detail about these profiles, but it did mention the disparity between teachers that play games and use games to teach in the classroom 78%, versus non-game using teachers only 55% use games in the classroom. A simple solution, as Matthew seems to suggest, is to lower the barriers for non-game using teachers. Such as the use of trustworthy platforms for educational games. Or to provide a “common discourse” about games for non-game using teachers so teachers can simply become educated about how and why games can be used in the classroom. These are definitely ways we can move forward with DGBL for non-game using teachers, but there are still concerns with teachers ability to know enough about the games without actually playing them. Is it still too much to ask teachers to “playtest” games before implementing them into the classroom? I would ask the same question about textbooks. Would we expect a teacher to implement a text without reading it first?


Ways for teachers to “level up”

Perhaps we can assume non-game playing teachers, through “common discourse,” could be assimilated into digital game culture, making them more likely to appreciate and play games. Matthew does bring attention to this briefly by mentioning gamesandlearning.org. However, this site could be so much more if it had forums and other ways to connect socially. The site appears to only be a service to provide information and news. Wouldn’t these teachers like to connect and talk about games? This question brought me back to the original report. I wanted to learn more about these “Dabblers, Players, Barrier Busters, and Naturals. After scanning the information provided about these profiles, I found the “Barrier Busters” most interesting in regards to “common discourse.” These teachers face the highest number of barriers to DGBL curriculum than any other profile, but somehow they overcome this. How and why? The study offers several hypotheses to explain this, further research would be required to reach any conclusion. However, I found “professional development,” as the “Barrier Busters” frequently cited as engaging with (more than any other profile) may be a good place to start. Assuming professional development helps one become a member of a community of practice, or affinity space, this could create opportunities to network and build confidence in implementing DGBL curriculum.

References:
Matthew Farber February 5, 2015 Strategies to Level Up Learning

Takeuchi, L. M., & Vaala, S. (2014). Level up learning: A national survey on teaching with digital games. New York: The Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop.