Week 3 – Games, Blogs and Screencasts

Our students will shortly enter the fourth and final week of this project.

This past Monday, some of our students published blog posts on the topics following topics:

  • Gender and gaming
  • Game addiction
  • The potential of games as a learning tool

I’m quite impressed with my students’ level of reflection. I encourage you to have a look at their latest texts on the student blogs.

For the final period of this project, our students are working on two tasks that will be subject to summative assessment.

Firstly, they are working on new blog posts. This time around, the tasks are more deeply founded in learning aims from the Social Science curricullum, and they require a deeper immersion into the Civilization IV computer game. Half our students will be writing their texts in Norwegian, and the other half will be writing in English. I expect students will be ready to publish on Monday November 12th.

The blog tasks they are working on now are:

1. Civics

In Civilization IV, the player can select between ceveral different civics. Each of these may benefit, and/or disadvantage your civilization. Consider the games you have been playing: Which civics did you choose for your civilization? Why? How did your choices benefit or disadvantage your civilization? Imagine you were running a real country, would you have made the same choices? Draw parallels between the game and concepts we are studying in Social Science.

2. Diplomacy

Which kinds of international agreements can one enter into in Civilization IV? Which factors decide how succesfully you are able to conduct negotiations? Is the way diplomacy is represented in the game an accurate simulation of how diplomacy is conducted in the real world? Why, why not? Draw parallels between the game and concepts we are studying in Social Science.

3. Power

Define the term power in international relations (In English this part is essential as ‘power’ in English is an even broader term than ‘makt’ is in Norwegian). How do states in Civilization IV exert power over each other? Relate this to the concepts of Charismatic/Ideological power, economic power and military power. Refer to real-world examples in your text.

In addition to this, the students will also be making digital presentations/screencasts where they will be using the game to illustrate real-world conflicts. I’ll present this task in my next post.


About teacheraleks

Teacher, and Games and Learning Specialist at Nordahl Grieg Upper Secondary School in Bergen, Norway.
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2 Responses to Week 3 – Games, Blogs and Screencasts

  1. kinden says:

    Hi – I am teaching World Civilizations in the Middle Ages with a group of Grade 8 students. I am also their English teacher. I am working on a new unit – I bought the Civilizations V hoping to use it in my class and have been playing it over the last few days to get an idea of the potential. How many students played at once, and did they record their moves for later reflection? Did they play against each other? Any other comments you might have to help me would be great. Right now, I am thinking of an hour or two a week. Did you do it every day? Thanks!

    • teacheraleks says:

      Hi Kinden.

      So nice to read that you are interested in our project. We used this game with all thirty students in a grade 11 class over a period of four weeks in three different subjects (English, Norwegian and Social Science). The students were given the game to play with on their own time, two weeks before we kicked off this project, so at the time we started most students were fairly familiar with the user interface. During the first week of this program we paired up our students, those who felt fairly confident with the basic game concepts with students that had either not yet played the game to any extent, or didn’t feel they understood it yet. During this week the students took turns playing, and recording major events in a log sheet.

      We didn’t organize for students to play against each other, but several of them took that initiative on their own during this period. There is a lot of potential to mulitplayer games, but as we encouraged students to take their time to consider their options, and reflect on a events during gameplay, organized mulitplayer games would be too time consuming.

      We didn’t play every day, but we played most days. When we weren’t playing we were utilizing experiences from gameplay in other learning activities. We had a total 12 45 minute lessons to our disposal each week. We spent approximately 40% of school time, actively playing the game. Some of this was free play, some was semi-directed play (“Change your civics from emancipation to any other Labor civic in the 21s Century. What consequences does this have for your civilization”). An hour or two a week sounds fine, but you will probably need to spend more time on the game during the beginning of the unit. The students will need all the time they can get to understand key elements to the game before you can expect significant subject learning.

      I’m interested in hearing how your progress with the development of this unit progresses. Let me know whether you’ll go through with this unit, and if you do I would love to exchange experiences. I’d be happy to share lesson plans and other resources I have developed for this project if you’d like.

      Best of luck!


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