We kicked off this project with our students this past Monday, and over the last couple of days students have been publishing blog posts about their experiences and expectations here (English) and here (Norwegian).
I believe that writing for a blog can be an excellent learning experience for our students. I find that when the main purpose of a text is to be read and assessed by a teacher, many students struggle with motivation. When students know that their texts will be published and read by a wider audience, it adds a sense of purpose to the writing process.
One challenge related to using blogs in education is that in most cases the sense of writing for a wider audience is artificial. In a world where unlimited amounts of information about pretty much any topic is published on a daily basis, the opinions of a group of 16-17 year-olds are in most cases not all that interesting. If we want our students to get a real sense that the texts that they publish are interesting for purposes beyond assessment, the topics of those texts need to have a broader appeal. The use of computer games in formal education is a fairly new field. Certainly, there are few examples of projects where computer games are used to the extent we will be doing over the next couple of weeks. We are also quite certain that this is a topic there is interest in reading about. This, we believe, makes our project particularly well suited for student blogging.
The next series of student blog posts will be published on the 29th of October. Students will be writing texts based upon the following assignments:
- When a game of Civilization has been won or lost, the player may choose to either end the game, or for as many times as (s)he likes, play “just one more turn”. Which attributes are of a game causes the game to become addictive? Can movies, books or other media be equally addictive, or is this an attribute unique to computer games? You may consider the presentation by Game Addiction Norway that we attended last week when you write your texts.
- What can we learn from games? Many children and young adults spend a considerable amount of time playing video games. Is this pure entertainment/waste of time or are there benefits that can be had through gaming? Use examples from your own experiences with Civilization IV or other games you have played.
- Games and Gender. Are computer games a medium created/played first and foremost by boys? How do gaming habits of boys and girls differ? Are there any similarities? Can these questions shed light on why we chose CivIV rather than other games, once we had decided to use games in our lessons.
I encourage readers to visit, read and leave comments on the students’ blogs.