I started reading this book with a skeptical attitude after seeing one too many articles by computer geeks who blather on about how learning should never be boring.
This is a book about how computer and video games can help adults rebuild education for the post-industrial, high-technology world by thinking about learning in a new way and David W. Shaffer (2007) uses years of research to show how the correlation between thinking style (epistemic) games and authentic learning experiences increases the learners understanding and retention of the content material. In order to do so, we as educators must develop a new way to think about learning and in doing so, we will discover what it means to become a truly innovative workforce providing products, services, and technologies that let people share information, work together, and do things in new ways (Shaffer). Shaffer (2007) uses his research to show that learners taking on the role of a professional requires the learner to complete and internalize far more content information than if merely learning a topic or skill. Values - Values refers to the learner developing a sense of ownership or caring about what the professional finds significant and important.By playing a game based on the things professionals do in training, players can learn to think innovative ways and to care about a wide range of complex and important problems and situations (Shaffer). In playing games, children are running simulations of worlds they want to learn about in order to understand the rules, roles, and consequences of those worlds and Shaffer illustrates, repeatedly, what true learning looks like when utilizing strategies that draws the learner in and teaches them how to think creatively and approach problem solving through the eyes of a professional, instead of a passive bystander.
In this summers must-read, Associate Professor Shaffer pounds into our heads the notion of epistemic games that will turn next years children into a group of innovative professionals before their tenth birthdays. He argues that by playing games designed to encourage children to think like professionals in their field, they will grow into a new generation of bright sparks able to cope in a postindustrial world, already equipped with the language, rationalising skills and knowledge to succeed.
This book, written by David Williamson Shaffer, starts by putting skeptics minds at ease by explaining one of the main problems in education: teaching students to regurgitate standard facts as opposed to innovate. What I find to be the main theme of Shaffers work is that allowing students to think/work like professionals by creating a digital world for them to create, solve problems, or develop a product is an effective way to provide students with authentic learning experiences. Computer and video games can change education because computers now make it possible to learn on a massive scale by doing the things that people do in the real world outside of school. The epistemic games Shaffer mentions allow students to take on real-world professions in order to learn new skills.
2) The games are not effective learning tool unless it is tied to a "real world" application. For example, vocabularies and concepts that are used in these games are useless unless they are closely tied to the real world.
That said, the described benefits clearly seem strong enough to make it worth a try, and Shaffer's ideas about things such as temporarily providing the players with a new kind of identity do provide interesting suggestions of how to make any game feel more personally meaningful and satisfying.
371.334 SCH My review: this book is about epistemology: the study of what is means to know something of digital age. Deliberately used the factory as a model for the orderly delivery of instruction.
He sees children entering a very dynamic world that is changing so fast that tradition education doesn't make sense, and the memorization of facts is obsolete. Sadly, these games exist mainly in educational labs today, though each chapter mentions commercial examples which are at least close to this ideal.
The book provides engaging examples and strong theory-based arguments for rethinking the roles of games in learning.