January 5, 2005

Simulations and Gaming

I was able to get through the rest of Clark's presentation. I also order his book online today. (One-click ordering on Amazon seems to represent frictionless commerce much like Bill Gates described it in his book.) The presentation went into some of the specifics in terms of the differences between games and simulations and pedagogy. I particularly liked his descriptions of working through the issues of how games have certain characteristics and simulations have certain characteristics.... Games have challenges and conflicts that can cause purposeful frustration, hopefully then have resolution. Simulations are more focused on creating a real world representation. However, this is often not appropriate or not efficient for learning. Clark's example was training for a military guard. Should the simulation sit idle for 90% of the time? This doesn't seem efficient, but it does reflect real world.

He also discussed the application of pedagogy to the learning experience. When do you offer help, when is it discovery type learning. In my view the answer probably lies more in the learner rather then the training. This really makes me think about our xBox games. I have been playing Amped 2 and it is awesome. Alex and I have created players, chosen our clothing, and boards. We have begun to build our skill sets. Yesterday, I took a few minutes to go through the tutorials. They have a menu option for training! Very cool. I actually was shown how to do the tricks. Then given an opportunity to practice. However, practice was not unlocked until I completed the lesson and the practice was actually not marked complete until I successfully completed each task presented to me. Mastery Learning.

So let me get this straight... I was in a tutorial that taught me how to perform complex skills, offered direct and consistent feedback, was not allowed to have success (a checkmark) until I showed mastery of the skill. Then was shoved into a real environment to compete using the skills (against a very crafty 6 year old). All in one evening without a single instructor... Very cool.

Although, the tutorials come from the main menu, they were not in the workflow process. When I'm snowboarding down the hill, I get performance feedback, like "Get a new trick, Rookie" "Seen it" if my performance doesn't improve. But no tutorials, no stop and do this or here is how you do that, then continue down the hill.

Clark also discussed some specific research or analysis that he had conducted with his companies product showing some solid positive results. I think this is very interesting.

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