Archive for the 'Uncategorized' Category


Hi Alex,

well your question is complex for me.  My view is that for the most part, gaming and video games have not contributed much to teaching and learning in the context of formal curriculum, for example, the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks.  I am sure that if you google gaming and education you will get lots of hits as there is much hype and enthusiasm for this topic, especially by non-teachers and non-educators.  Gaming is always often good for hypothesizing but when it come down to the work of learning curriculum, developing rational thought, learning to be a good writer and communicator, learning to be a good cooperator and citizen, gaming does not offer a whole lot.  With respect to educational software, it is extremely difficult to get the right balance between gaming and pursuing learning objectives.  people often look to game the game and just focus on the gaming characteristics and ignoring the actual content.  the best research i have seen regarding gaming was at MIT where they had kids developing their own games.  in that context they learned a lot about math, programming, and logic.  there is a built in conflict of interest in educational gaming when for-profit game companies want to suggest that their games are effective but their research is questionable because they stand to profit from selling games to education.  Unfortunately there is a loot of enthusiasm for games and education but the research does not support that they are typically productive.  My view is that games are fun and should remain so and we benefit from recognizing that learning is a complex process of interaction with people and ideas that requires study, work, discipline, and often patience and that complex process cannot be rendered painless through games.
let me know if you want to carry the conversation further.

Developing and evaluating dialogue games for collaborative e–learning

A. Ravenscroft M.P. Matheson 

The Open University
Belief change • Collaboration • Dialogue • Empirical • Modelling • School • Science


Abstract This paper argues that developments in collaborative e-learning dialogue should be based on pedagogically sound principles of discourse, and therefore, by implication, there is a need to develop methodologies which transpose — typically informal — models of educational dialogue into cognitive tools that are suitable for students. A methodology of ‘investigation by design’ is described which has been used to design computer-based dialogue games supporting conceptual change and development in science — based on the findings of empirical studies. An evaluation of two dialogue games for collaborative interaction, a facilitating game and an elicit-inform game, has shown that they produce significant improvements in students conceptual understanding, and they are differentially successful — depending on the nature of the conceptual difficulties experienced by the learners. The implications this study has for the role of collaborative dialogue in learning and designing computer-based and computer–mediated collaborative interaction are discussed.


Re-purposing existing generic games and simulations for e-learning


There is a growing interest among teachers in using games as a part of their lesson plans. A standardised, interoperable approach to the sharing of such game-based lesson plans would allow teachers and educational technologists to compare and contrast Digital Game Based Learning scenarios, allowing best practices and lessons learned to emerge. Although games can be used as ‘add-ons’ in educational contexts, greater benefits can be attained by integrating games more fully into the educational process, i.e. by repurposing existing games to target the specific learning objectives. In this article we analyse this problem. We developed two possible solutions based on the integration and the interaction of games and learning scenarios. The first solution is based on ‘pedagogical wrappers’, where games are linked to e-learning flows but without interaction and communication. The second solution sees a tighter integration which supports ongoing interaction and communication between game and e-learning flow. We applied both solutions to a generic game. This game was firstly programmed in Action Script and later re-used for learning purposes and represented in IMS Learning Design. We analysed the pros and cons of each solution and identify research topics for further research.

More info:

New Journal: Games & Culture

Just ran across this journal online. BU doesn’t have access, but we should get some ILLs if there are any articles that look interesting. Some related topics that are covered:

  • What makes a game fun/addicting?
  • Games and learning


Mystery Game Lit Search

I’ve found the full text PDF files for these:

Wood, J.J. (1999). Misterio en Toluca:  An Internet Mystery Game. Hispania, 82(2), 284-286.


Abstract: Misterio en Toluca: An Internet Mystery Game, from Heinle & Heinle, is an interactive CD-ROM mystery role-play game for intermediate students of Spanish that users play over the Internet entirely in Spanish. This program is easy to use, and its mystery normally takes ten weeks to solve. Innovative, creative, and original, it should motivate students to improve their Spanish language proficiency.


Trotter, A. (2004). Digital Games Bring Entertainment Into Learning Realm. Education Week, 23(44), 8.


Abstract: Educational simulation designers believe that qualities of digital games may benefit middle and high school classrooms. Their aim is to create digital simulation games that can drench students in the complexities and colors of another place and time; provide them with experiences of living and working, leading, and solving mysteries; and foster learning during the fun. Examples of educational simulations are provided.

Can we find the full text version of this? 

Nuessel, F. (2006).  Language Games in Spanish.  Hispania, 89(1), 151-153.

Abstract: Easy to read and comprehend, La tienda de palabras, by Spanish author Jesus Marchamalo, is a fascinating novel that interweaves language games into an entertainingmystery. Suitable for use in an intermediate or bridge course in the Spanish curriculum, this book presents competitive, goal-defined, rule-governed, and engaging languagegames that can provide a source of fun and active participation in a Spanish class.


Virtual Reality in Language Learning

These articles mainly deal with text or chat-based VR worlds, and regard any voice input mechanisms as impractical or “high-end”.  Most of the articles I found also come from a pedagogical background, and don’t get into emotional reward.  Lots of Vygotski references to social aspects of learning.  After reviewing this stuff, I think we need to look for SPELL vs. CALL techniques (see acronym key below), since these involve spoken language.
Morton, H. & Jack, M.A. (2005). Scenario-Based Spoken Interaction with Virtual Agents. Computer Assisted Language Learning, 18(3), 171-191.
  • We should definitely look at the full-text version of this one, as it is very close to our idea.  It may not have the theoretical background of emotion reward, but it does involve a VR world and spoken interaction.  This SPELL approach is real-time and feedback focus is immediate and corrective.
Schwienhorst, K. (2002). The state of VR: A meta-analysis of virtual reality tools in second language acquisition. Computer Assisted Language Learning, 15(3), 221-239.
  • Goes into how learner partnerships w/in a virtual environment, learner autonomy, and automatic logging enhances educational power of VR gaming experience.  Exploration of high and low-end VR tools in L2 acquisition. Places a lot of emphasis on learner-learner interaction.

Roed, J. (2003). Language Learner Behaviour in a Virtual Environment. Computer Assisted Language Learning, 16(2-3), 155-172.

  • When communicating online, people show fewer inhibitions, display less social anxiety, and reduce their public self-awareness. Based on these findings, it seems that a virtual learning environment may constitute a more relaxed and stress free atmosphere than a classroom.

Peterson, M. (2006). Learner Interaction Management in an Avatar and Chat-based Virtual World. Computer Assisted Language Learning, 19(1), 79-103.

  • Report on a study that investigated non-native speaker interaction in a 3D virtual world that incorporates avatars and text chat known as Active Worlds. Post-study questionnaires found that avatars enhanced the subjects’ sense of telepresence and that the learners made use of their communicative features during the interaction. The analysis further suggested that the use of avatars facilitated learner interaction management during real time CMC.
  • Full-Text Summary:  This study looked at NNS interaction in a 3D virtual world w/avatar functions, called Active Worlds. The main thing we are interested in are the citations about how avatars facilitated learner interaction management, which supports L2 development by increasing target language output and enhancing motivation.  Avatars offer a sense of “telepresence”, or a sense of “being” within a virtual world. Another avatar advantage is the ability to communicate through non-verbal cues, such as smiling or waving.  Studies have shown that the chat-base design can become overwhelming for NNS’s to follow, which doesn’t allow them time to use their avatars or their communication features.
Peterson, M. (2001). MOOs and Second Language Acquisition: Towards a Rationale for MOO-based Learning. Computer Assisted Language Learning, 14(5), 443-459.
  • Nice overview of reasoning behind MOO-based learning software, which could be used as theoretical background against classroom learning.  Actually mentions salience of L2 input, as well as feedback; however, this is based on network-based education.
  • Full-Text Summary:  Concentrated on network based VR worlds, which is out of the scope of what we want to do.  Mentioned that CMC-based discourse conducted entirely in TL may improve learners’ written output, and ultimately their L2 proficiency (Paramskas, 1993).  Less inhibition (Richards, 2001). Fewer restraint on time/distance than traditional L2 learning environments (Harasim, 1986).  Studies have noted the motivational effects of nenwork-based CMC learning (Chun, 1994, Negretti, 1999).  Logging input is good for self-review.

Hansson, T. (2005). English as a Second Language on a Virtual Platform–Tradition and Innovation in a New Medium. Computer Assisted Language Learning,18(1-2), 63-79.

  • Vygotskian design to investigate a virtual platform on text composition task.  By investigating the design of a combined virtual and physical learning environment we describe how the video-game generation operates (in) a social system of peers as they develop their computer skills and text composing ability. 
McAvinia, C. & Hughes, J. (2003). Sharing Systems, Sharing Language: Designing and Working in a Virtual Department. Computer Assisted Language Learning, 16(5), 445-467.
  • This study created an inter-university virtual learning environment (called a virtual department), in order to accomodate talented language learners or students of obscure languages, which the university may not have offered.  More of a community-based learning environment, but a good example of how “virtual” is overgeneralized in the literature.
Welcome to the world of VR-related acronyms:
CALL = computer assisted language learning
MOOs = object-oriented multi-user domains
SPELL = spoken electronic language learning
CMC = computer mediated communication


Cool sites to check out:

Onlive Traveller – online community where avatars can communicate in the user’s voice, with microphones instead of typing.



What Video Games Teach Us About Learning and Literacy

-Most young people see game playing as almost entirely social, preferring to play in multiplayer settings of one sort or another (even to the point of passing the controller back and forth for single player games (P. 8)
– Requires taking on a new identity and forming bridges from one’s old identities to the new one. i.e children in a science classroom engaged in inquiry, not passive learning, require the individual to take on the identity as a scientific thinker, problem solver and doer (P. 45)
– Thus, the gamer feels responsible to and for the character, he has a virtual identity. They are projecting an identity as to who the character ought to be and what the trajectory of his or her acts in the virtual world ought, at the end of the day, to look like (P. 53).
-Without such as identity commitment no deep learning can occur. People will not invest the time, effort, and committed engagement that active, critical learning requires (P. 55).
– Even if the gamer has a damaged identity of (in our case of learning languages) video games create psycho-social moratorium- that is a learning space in which the learner can take risks where real-world consequences are lowered (P. 59)
**- If the virtual world and virtual identity at stake is not compelling to the learner, then little deep learning is liable to occur, in part because the learner is going to be unwilling to put in the effort and practice demanded for mastering the domain.
– Bridge real world identities to the virtual character I played in the game.
1. the learner must be enticed to try. Accomplished through building bridges to his real-world identities and by creating a psychosocial moratorium.
2. The learner needs to be enticed to put in a lot of effort. This is done by making the virtual world or virtual identity at stake in the learning compelling to the learner on his or her own terms. The learner needs to be sucked in.
3. “amplification of output principle”- give for a little output, a lot of output. This is highly motivated for learning. i.e press some buttons in the real world and a whole interactive virtual world comes to life. Virtual world needs to be built such that learners discover new powers and feel the dawning of new valued identities (P. 63)