Game talkUsing NWN for basic learning skills

 Posted by (Visited 13857 times)  Game talk
Jan 172007
 

Blog reader Dragon sends in this note:

Raph, Haven’t seen anything about this on your blog yet – if you’ve already written about it then I missed it. Thought you might be interested in this article on the BBC tech news about a company adapting Neverwinter Nights to use it to encourage learning in schools. The company website is http://www.alteredlearning.com/ (and no, I’m not connected in any way shape or form) Cheers!

It is indeed interesting. The achievement scores have literally tripled. Most interesting, however, is that the mod replaced typical RPG challenges with, well, typical RPG challenges:


“For example, before they set off in their galleon they have to fill it with the things they are going to need. This requires them to work out the area of the ship and how much they can manage to bring.

“Some students managed it, others sank on the way and never progressed to the next level.

“They would come knocking on the staff room door and wouldn’t let us go until we had taught them how to calculate area.”

It’s interesting to see that for all the many efforts in using virtual worlds for learning, few of them approach matters from this very gamey perspective. Instead, we tend to see virtual classrooms and lectures. There’s also what you might call the interactive museum approach, which is educational in a somewhat more passive way — not about exercising skills, but instead providing immersion into a setting or mindset, like the schizophrenia example in Second Life.

I think these have value, but there’s little doubt, in the wake of titles like Brain Age, that game structures can really incentivize learning. And the most thorough learning comes, as we know, from practice. Games work best at teaching when the challenges are organic to the experience, rather than out of left field. This is why so many educational games suck — just strapping an incentive structure on rote practice doesn’t work very well, compared to instead building a long-term goal structure, and then presenting challenges on the way. The “fill the hold” example works because the students have a goal that isn’t learning.

I think this is the fundamental error many educators make — they think that everyone finds learning for learning’s sake to be engaging. The article notes that the kids had chosen to blow off basic literacy and numeracy skills because they didn’t see them as directly applicable to their main goal — kind of like I have rarely needed to use the quadratic equation in my daily life. This is exemplified by the classic word problem they give you in math class: who gives a damn when exactly two cars driving opposite directions will cross paths on the highway? Why would one care?

The path for educational games is to start with something that users care about, and just take care to select a goal that naturally offers up the sorts of challenges that we want to teach.

  26 Responses to “Using NWN for basic learning skills”

  1. Op een of andere manier heb ik de afgelopen dagen veel discussies gehad over het inzetten van games (en games technieken) in leeromgevingen. Serious gaming. Via Raph Koster stuitte ik op een interessant BBC artikel met daarin een voorbeeld waar velen nog iets van kunnen leren;-) “For example, before they set off in their galleon they have to fill it with the things they are going to need. This requires them

  2. An anonymous reader writes “InformationWeek has a review of 6 rootkit detectors.This issue became big last year when Sony released some music CDs which came with a rootkit that silently burrowed into PCs. This review looks at how you can block rootkits and protect your machine using F-Secure Backlight, IceSword, RKDetector,

  3. au = デザインが良い というイメージに繋がるのではないでしょうか。 今後のauのデザイン携帯にも注目です。 au携帯4機種、ニューヨーク近代美術館の収蔵品に http://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20070115-00000313-yom-soci 収蔵品に選定された機種の紹介 http://www.kddi.com/corporate/news_release/2007/0115c/sanko.html MoMA | The Museum of Modern Art http://www.moma.org/

  4. 人気ワード コヤマナオコ みなみおねいさん カオシックルーン

  5. part, giving us snippets of text and reviews gleaned from allmusic.com and other sites, but still suffers from the occasional untimely outage (like as we were writing this). [IMG] So would we change our recommendation of the iPod over the Zune? No. All the reasons we had to pick one or the other still stands. If you want movies, TV, a larger music library, a touch sensitive scroll wheel and more accessories, you should still go with the iPod. If you want an FM tuner, music rentals, and a larger screen, there’s the Zune.

  6. appearing with “Virgin Festival” – Canada[IMG] [IMG] Sat 09/09/06 Toronto, ON Island Park [IMG] Alexisonfire[IMG] [IMG] Sun 09/10/06 London, ON John Labatt Centre [IMG] [IMG] Thu 09/14/06 North Bay, ON Capitol Centre [IMG] Sat 09/16/06 Thunder Bay, ON Community Auditorium [IMG] Sun 09/17/06 Winnipeg, MB Winnipeg Conv. Ctr. [IMG] Mon 09/18/06 Brandon, MB Manitoba Room [IMG]

  7. In any event, in the future, I’ll try to post links to Raph’s writing only when I have a full reaction to log (and not just a “wow, cool”). This should keep me from posting a link to everything. On using NWN for learning On consumer content (as opposed to user created content) On Viva Piniata On rich community tools for MMOs

  8. Some students managed it, others sank on the way and never progressed to the next level. They would come knocking on the staff room door and wouldn’t let us go until we had taught them how to calculate area. Some analysis by Raph Koster: “Games work best at teaching when the challenges are organic to the experience, rather than out of left field. This is why so many educational games suck — just strapping an incentive structure on rote practice doesn’t work very well, compared

  9. Raph’s Website » Using NWN for basic learning skills

  10. The bastards stole my idea! :P

    Seriously though, this is almost exactly the sort of project I had in mind when I went back to grad school for Instructional Design & Technology. Now that I’m a semester into my studies I’m more convinced than ever that well-designed games can be a great boon to education, or at least to learning. And I agree with you about the game working because learning isn’t the player’s goal; they learn because it helps them achieve their goal. The real challenge here is twofold I think: we need to study what good games teach their players and figure out how they teach that information. Then we can go about crafting games that effectively teach what we want the players to learn. Right now the “educational games” field is loaded with crap that is essentially a set of flashcards with fancy graphics. We can do better, and it’s promising to see some people making progress.

  11. [...] Bloggers January 17, 2007 20:21 Using NWN for basic learning skills Blog reader Dragon sends in this note: Raph, Haven’t seen anything about this on your blog yet – if you’ve already written about it then I missed it. Thought you might be interested in this article on the BBC tech news about a company adapting Neverwinter Nights to use it to encourage learning in schools. The [...] Source: Raph's Koster Website Categories: Bloggers 19:53 Burning Crusade Update The French’s luck with the Burning Crusade has proven better than their luck with the actual Crusades. OK, lame setup, but it still merits mention that a French player has already hit level 70 in WoW, a scant 28 hours after the expansion launched. This is after many players posited it would take [...] Source: Zen of Design – Ubiq Categories: Bloggers 19:40 Pro Roleplaying It went past on The Forge’s blog early this month with little commentary outside the post, but it made my eyebrows go up. Iron Realms sprang for two fulltime positions for their flagship MMOG Achaea. These aren’t developers or designers – they’re “Assistant Producers for Roleplay“. As Assistant Producer for Roleplay, you will help to ensure [...] Source: MMOG Nation (Zonk) Categories: Bloggers 19:14 The Icepocalypse Continues… Work called off again. Yesterday I was taunting Will for working weekends off a free four-day weekend, but now I’m getting concerned. :P No way to check my work mail from home. I’ll have to remedy… [...] Source: Brandon Reinhart Categories: Bloggers 18:42 More adventures in Telon prehistory Well, I’ve given my tearful farewells to F13 (actually, I just wrote a big message to build up the necessary inertia to get the hell out of there). I left because I decided I’d rather a find a forum… Source: Geldon Categories: Bloggers 18:00 NWN2, PSU, S&M I haven’t updated recently because I haven’t had much worth writing about, but hey, why let that stop me? Coming at the end of my weekend (since my Sunday is no day off) I’m feeling melancholy. Add… Source: Geldon Categories: Bloggers 17:58 A Slow News Week I did indeed go ahead with recreating that Monk with the Tailoring background, but it wasn’t long before I determined that tailoring does not cover the creation of handwraps despite being made on the… Source: Geldon Categories: Bloggers 17:57 Transition Complete — Alt-A-Holicism Resolved (For Now) — Reviewing my previous blog entries yesterday, I noticed that there actually quite a bit of evidence that I’d rather play Nanites over Psi-Caster. Leading… Source: Geldon Categories: Bloggers 17:31 The Burning Crusade, Day One If you’re still looking to score a Collector’s Edition of World of Warcraft’s The Burning Crusade, looks like EBGames can hook you up for $99.98. ZOWIE. Includes a strategy guide AND BINDER. I have the Collector’s Edition with the “I’m cooler than you, nub” netherwhelp, but I don’t have THE BINDER. Total price, [...] Source: AFK Gamer – Foton Categories: Bloggers 17:26 Great news for the Stargate MMO MGM has announced two Stargate-SG1 movies! That brings out my inner geek (I was a huge fan of the series. I have to admit since I’ve moved to the UK, I haven’t watched it as much, but I still want… Source: SunSword Categories: Bloggers 17:16 The Lukewarm Crusade [World of Warcraft] I decided to cash in some of my gift cards from Christmas and ordered online two copies of the World of Warcraft expansion, the Burning Crusade. I was surprised to get an email soon after telling me to come on in and pick them up, one for me and one for my [...] Source: KillTenRats – Ethic Categories: Bloggers 17:07 Day 3 It’s day 3 of the ICEPOCALYPSE. Here’s my front yard as of 15 minutes ago: Terrible photograph, but I’m not going outside to take a better one. I’ve been playing loads of EQ2. Since Friday, I’m coming up on 25 hours or so. And given that a) my front yard looks like the above, [...] Source: Lietgardis Categories: Bloggers 15:59 My first day in Burning Crusade Once I had the Burning Crusade up and running, I started by moving my main character undead priest through the Dark Portal into Outland. Took the flight path to Thrallmar, and rode through Hellfire… Source: Tobold Categories: Bloggers 14:56 Character Transfers Galore! Quite a few realms are now available for free transfers. Blizzard has also reset the server transfer cooldown on all realms. I can already see the dollar signs in the eyes of Blizzard’s management team.. Source: AFK Gamer – Foton Categories: Bloggers 13:43 For Stupid Contest Names, God Demands A Sacrafice Super Burning Crusades Massacre Edition! Yet another video-game related death, and this time it’s murderrrrrr! From Gamasutra: Woman Killed In Wii-Related Competition A twenty-eight year old Sacramento mother of three has died of water intoxication after taking part in a local radio competition to win a Wii console. Jennifer Strange was found dead on Friday at her home [...] Source: Amber Night Categories: Bloggers 12:24 What it means to be Australian The most fun three minutes you’ll have with your clothes on, or something Not as good as last years. Source: MMODIG – unbeliever Categories: Bloggers 10:53 Ding 20! Kalarioch hits level 20 in Bloodmyst with 14 hours played. Day one was a good run. I’m unlikely to play that much in such a short time for quite a while. Horray for the Iceapocalypse! I’ve completed… [...] Source: Brandon Reinhart Categories: Bloggers 06:25 The Green Monster Nate CombsCurt Schilling’s MMOG startup venture is attracting much attention (e.g., see 1., 2.), less for its proposition than for its messenger. Over the years Curt has built a considerable reputation in the off-season as a dedicated online game player and… Source: Terra Nova – Academics playground Categories: Bloggers 06:15 BC Launch: Smooth as a troll’s bottom Since this is their first expansion, you have to give Blizzard some slack. After all, unlike the famous Kunark incident, they actually had product for sale. (Ask your long time EQ playing friends about how Sony forgot to make enough product to fulfill their preorders, much less people wandering in off the street. [...] Source: KillTenRats – Ethic Categories: Bloggers 06:13 FrostFallen The site outage has made this a bit tardy, but my band of adventuring kin did get the chance to check out the extremely awesome FrostFell event Sony has laid out in EverQuest II. I’m not going to go into an in-depth description here, as Van Hemlock has done a good job with that, but [...] Source: MMOG Nation (Zonk) Categories: Bloggers 06:00 Fighting Player Perception One of the biggest challenges we have when developing massively multiplayer games is fighting player perception. That is, combating the opinions about the game that players hold which are not necessarily mechanically sound. It’s hard to really define what I’m talking about here, but if you’ve played an MMO or two in the past, you [...] Source: Nerfbat – Grouchy Gnome Categories: Bloggers 04:26 When 10 Hours Is Not Enough To Appreciate True Awesomeness For a while, the Second Life backlash was going so strong that I was considering, albeit briefly, actually whipping out a couple of posts in defense of the Linden Labs boys and sticking up for them, just to be contrarian. But to be honest, I can only take so much of the fanbois who [...] Source: Zen of Design – Ubiq Categories: Bloggers 03:51 Azjol-Nerub is Full, Position n queue: 942 Yikes. I guess that’s what I get for logging out to get new mods. I’m up to level 16 and burning through content. Had to sleep a bit though and play some Lego Star Wars 2 with the fiancee (she’s… [...] Source: Brandon Reinhart Categories: Bloggers 03:42 RSS feed check Move along, nothing to see here, issues with RSS feeds again, sigh, curse feedburner and bloglines. Source: MMODIG – unbeliever Categories: Bloggers 00:44 Blizzard vs. Pessimism Welcome dear sports fans to this exciting event in which Blizzard tries to beat the pessimism of Tobold’s Burning Crusade release day chaos predictions. The rules are simple: I try to buy, install,… Source: Tobold Categories: Bloggers 00:06 I’m Weak Source: MMOG Nation (Zonk) Categories: Bloggers [...]

  12. [...] Raph’s Website » Using NWN for basic learning skills I think this is the fundamental error many educators make — they think that everyone finds learning for learning’s sake to be engaging. The article notes that the kids had chosen to blow off basic literacy and numeracy skills because they didn’t see them as directly applicable to their main goal — kind of like I have rarely needed to use the quadratic equation in my daily life. This is exemplified by the classic word problem they give you in math class: who gives a damn when exactly two cars driving opposite directions will cross paths on the highway? Why would one care? [...]

  13. Structured RPG are important format for learning in the way Raph describe it: natural learning and problem solving towards a long-term objective.

    Parents and educators use “play & pretend” all the time to teach, but usually they are not structured or serial. CRPGs and MMORPGs do a good job of giving players tougher challenges sequentially. For example, I recall an article stating that a group of student playing a space shuttle simulation program discovered a novel way of emergency landing that NASA found to be useful.

    What I would like to see (directing this to Vargen) is more educator’s reference to existing game. For example, an educator’s reference on using existing ATITD quests as a teaching aid. Or an reference on using flight simulators (two planes coming head-on on a collision course toward each other is a real issue).

    Like Raph said: “Most interesting, however, is that the mod replaced typical RPG challenges with, well, typical RPG challenges”.

    Frank

  14. I agree with your conclusion: students learn from games when they are trying to achieve a goal that isn’t learning.

    Even menus and other on-screen text helped my own son learn to read. He certainly wasn’t playing Mario Sunshine or Zelda in order to hone his phonics. . . . but if he feared he was missing a hint that could help him win, he would struggle to read it.

    (Liberal arts majors in video games should form a guild.)

  15. [...] Op een of andere manier heb ik de afgelopen dagen veel discussies gehad over het inzetten van games (en games technieken) in leeromgevingen. Serious gaming. Via Raph Koster stuitte ik op een interessant BBC artikel waarin een voorbeeld beschreven is waar velen nog iets van kunnen leren;-) [...]

  16. [...] Raph Koster puts it like this: Games work best at teaching when the challenges are organic to the experience, rather than out of left field. This is why so many educational games suck — just strapping an incentive structure on rote practice doesn’t work very well, compared to instead building a long-term goal structure, and then presenting challenges on the way. The “fill the hold” example works because the students have a goal that isn’t learning. I think this is the fundamental error many educators make — they think that everyone finds learning for learning’s sake to be engaging. […] The path for educational games is to start with something that users care about, and just take care to select a goal that naturally offers up the sorts of challenges that we want to teach. [...]

  17. [...] to … building a long-term goal structure, and then presenting challenges on the way,” Koster writes on his personal blog. The perfect embodiment of this idea is Sid Meier’s Civilization series. In [...]

  18. [...] many ways, the article restates what I said about games that try to teach a long time ago. (Actually, it even quotes from that). In short, that games that make education the [...]

  19. [...] survey of the ongoing discussion right now, especially since it pointed to Koster’s key point from some time ago that adding an artificial incentive to perform an educational activity isn’t very effective [...]

  20. [...] building a long-term goal structure, and then presenting challenges on the way,” Koster on his personal blog.” Read the full article for [...]

  21. [...] to … building a long-term goal structure, and then presenting challenges on the way," Koster writes on his personal blog. The perfect embodiment of this idea is Sid Meier’s Civilization series. In [...]

  22. [...] survey of the ongoing discussion right now, especially since it pointed to Koster’s key point from some time ago that adding an artificial incentive to perform an educational activity isn’t very effective [...]

  23. [...] Raph’s Website » Using NWN for basic learning skills Koster on how to design serious games: “… start with something that users care about, and just take care to select a goal that naturally offers up the sorts of challenges that we want to teach.” (tags: seriousgames learning teaching education gamedesign play games gaming) [...]

  24. [...] the author has not done any research; Using NWN for basic learning skills or try the company’s website. A LEVER TO MOVE THE MIND On the Southern coast of Sedig, a [...]

  25. [...] the author has not done any research; Using NWN for basic learning skills or try the company’s website. A LEVER TO MOVE THE MIND On the Southern coast of Sedig, a [...]

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.