During the span of the last two years, Nordahl Grieg Upper Secondary School has become one of the leading schools in the use of game based learning. I will briefly outline some of the projects that we have completed or are in the making.
Civilization IV: We are right now in the middle of our second run using Civilization 4 to study concepts in Social Science, English and Norwegian. Both teachers and students have shared their experiences on our blogs in the hope that other educators might be inspired to experiment with some of the same methods. I encourage visitors to this blog to also have a look at, and comment on my students work. Their texts are published here (Norwegian) and here (English)
Portal 2: One of our Physics teachers has had a great deal of success using Portal 2 as a simulation tool. With this game, students are able to simulate complex physics experiments that otherwise would be difficult or impossible to do without risk of severe bodily harm. Furthermore, the game facilitates the possibility to bend the laws of physics which is an excellent point of departure for discussion of how these affect the real world.
The Walking Dead: A lot of teachers would flinch at the thought of using a violent video game like the Walking Dead in a classroom. Not our own Tobias Staaby. In order for this game to progress, the player must resolve a series of dilemmas: In a small group of survivors with limited resources, how should food be distributed? In a situation where to save one person, the other will not survive; Who should live and who will die? These dilemmas are used to discuss moral philosophy – The Categorical Imperative, virtue ethics, consequntialism etc.
Skyrim: In Norwegian class, Skyrim has been used to examine romanticism and Norwegian romantic nationalism, focusing on Edmund Burke´s discussions of the sublime and the beautiful. The game´s imagery was compared and contrasted to classical works like Caspar David Friedrich´s The Wanderer over the Mists.
These are just some of several forays Nordahl Grieg has made into the realm of game based learning in the last year. Other teachers have been experimenting with Minecraft, DragonBox, Dear Esther, iCivics and many others.
I truly believe that within a few years we will see an explosion in the use of games in educational context. I feel extremely fortunate to be part of a school like Nordahl Grieg which will be one of the catalysts for this explosion.