Since graduating with my Master's degree in Technical Communication in December of 2007, I've taken one other class, which was ENG 583a: Social Networking and Technical Communication in the Spring semester of 2010. Like that class, I'm taking this one with my friend and colleague Jen, and we're both taking it free, since NC State University employees can get a "tuition waiver" for once class each semester, which we're each using for this class.
The professor of this class is a pretty good friend of mine, which is an interesting dynamic. He's also the professor I had for one of the two courses I took in my very first semester of grad school, nine years ago now, back in January of 2004. A lot has happened since then.
On this first night of class, we had to introduce ourselves, and here's what I shared:
- Who you are and where you’re from
- John Martin.
- I work in NC State’s IT organization, as a technical communicator.
- I’m originally from Fall River, MA, but I have been in NC for over 40 years.
- What you are currently doing in school?
- I received my Master’s degree in Technical Communications in 2007 here at State
- For this course, I’m taking advantage of the NC State employees “Tuition Waiver” benefit
- Research focus if you’ve established one (or connection to work, if you imagine one)
- Our IT organization is always trying to figure out ways to engage students in our communications and events. (e.g., Mobile Device Security Checkpoint)
- Since some (albeit unknown) number of our student audience are presumably “gamers,” I’d like to learn how to possibly integrate some gaming aspects into our communications or events. (e.g., If you come to four of our events, you earn a badge.)
- Your instructional experience
- I taught a “Defect Prevention” class for several years at IBM, traveling to various IBM sites in the U.S. to deliver it.
- Most of my instructional experience has been in the form of written procedures / software product instructions, etc.
- I have done a couple of Lunch & Learns about effective ways to use Twitter in the workplace.
- Technology skills
- Pretty skilled in (basic) HTML (i.e., no scripting language or anything like that)
- Social Media fanatic ("Accomplished blogger," Twitter, Facebook)
- Just got a FitBit
- That Master’s degree I mentioned above
- Saturday will be my anniversary of having a blog entry for every day of my life for the past 9 years
- Short story published
- Youngest memories of playing
- My family members were big card players, and Hearts was the card game we played the most
- Early board games: Operation, Candyland, Chutes & Ladders, Life, Monopoly, Old Maid, Go Fish, & Crazy 8s
- College card games: Hearts, Spades, Euchre
- Pong (early 70s)
- (Colossal Cave) Adventure ( Early 70s) “Twisting little maze of passages”
- Yahoo “social” games (Hearts, Euchre)
- Bar Arcades: Word Dojo, Galaga, (Limited: Frogger, Pacman, Donkey Kong, Super Mario Brothers)
- Games night games: Catchphrase, Cranium, Trivial Pursuit, Apples-to-Apples, Boggle, Balderdash, Taboo, Scattergories, Charades
- Facebook Scrabble (Average 10 concurrent games)
- And, of course, the ubiquitous “mind” games that people play... :-)
- Current gaming indulgences?
- Catchphrase (whenever I find a group of people who like it)
- Facebook Scrabble (as mentioned above)
For the last 20 or 30 minutes of class, we played Crazy 8s, about which I'm going to write a game journal and publish here at a later date.
Here are the particulars about the course:
- Introduces students to the role of games and game design in instruction and learning.
- History, theory, and practice of games, simulation, and play examined. Emphasis on the relationship between games and learning theory. Application of effective principles of design and evaluation to games created for educational purposes.
Games are often included in adult learning environments, from in-class puzzles to competitive and experiential activities to the current trend in massively multiplayer online games and video game-based learning. While instructional design courses teach us how to develop educational materials and programs, the design of games for instruction and learning represents an emerging challenge. How people design and learn from games is of enormous interest to contemporary researchers and educators given that a recent surveys of Americans over 15 show that they spend about the same amount of time every day “playing games or using the computer for leisure” as they do “relaxing or thinking” (U.S. Department of Labor, 2006). This course provides the opportunity for you to learn about the history and theory of games, about—in Huizinga’s (1949) words—man as player (Homo Ludens).
- At the end of this course, you will be able to
- Research the connection between games and learning theory
- Evaluate games as appropriate for their learning outcomes
- Design games for learning outcomes
- Articulate a case for games as learning environments
- Discern the difference between games, activities, sports, play, and simulation
- Understand game design as a lens for creating more engaging educational events.
- Caillois, R. (1961, 2001). Man, play and games. Chicago, IL: U of Illinois P. ISBN: 025207033X.
- Card, O. S. (1994). Ender's game. NY, NY: Tor Science Fiction. ISBN: 0812550706.
- Gee, J. P. (2007). What video games have to teach us about learning and literacy, 2nd Edition. NY, NY: Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN: 1403965382.
- Salen, K., & Zimmerman, E. (Eds.). (2006). The game design reader: A rules of play anthology. Cambridge, MA: MIT P. ISBN: 0262195364. (Referred to as S&Z throughout the course.)