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Video games in school?

January 31, 2007 by Dustin Swanson · 2 Comments · computer science, reflections

For the first time in years our internet connection ground to a snails pace this morning. Of course, this happened precisely when I was trying to use my blog, wiki, and various sites for an HTML project with the computer science 30 class.  Instead I chose to jump ahead a few days and introduce the students the a fascinating program “Game Maker“. It allows students to learn how to create actual working game applications.

I have used this program in the past with my classes and it is always a smashing success. Their abilities to think critically, solve huge problems, and be creative always impress.  By in large it is the most motivating and engaging topic I’ve ever used in my teaching. In reality, entire courses could be built around the topic. As I teach programming, this application is a direct curricular fit.  However, the more I work with the program the more curricular ties I see emerging in other areas. For example, good games are built upon stories – good stories, themes, and historical accuracies. They also utilize design principles used in graphic arts and could use music manipulation. There are also some math and science ties as real life physics models are incorporated into the program.  I’m really looking forward to seeing what kind of projects are developed in the class this semester.  I’m also looking forward to getting the opportunity to share this program and my “ramblings” with fellow teachers next week at a PD session. I’m not sure how game creation and design fit directly in what others are doing, but I can state strongly it engages students like nothing else.

2 Comments so far ↓

  • Shelly Stamm

    Do you notice a difference between males and females as far as their enthusiasm for gaming?

  • Dustin Swanson

    To date I have seen no difference in their enthusiasm. However, my classes are not balanced – usually 60-80% males in the class. I know historically the gaming market has been predominantly male. However, that statistic is slowly changing. I recently read that girls outnumber boys in the playing of web-based games (http://www.pbs.org/kcts/videogamerevolution/impact/myths.html). You bring up a new issue though – about encouraging more females to take my course.

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