Gaming as a way of learning information skills?

I attended a lecture given by the very talented Simon McCallum here at GUC today. He was giving a lecture on Game Mechanics as part of “Mediedagen 2011“. It got me thinking about how to deliver meaningful and engaging information literacy classes.

Librarians who teach find themselves in a tight sqeeze between schedules, teachers and students, and we are usually given 1-2 hours at our disposal when we are going to teach the students something about information skills, searching databases, ethics in research, how to write academically and so on. We get one chance to do it right, there is no such thing as “We`ll cover that in the session next week”. I think it`s safe to say that giving a lecture on e.g. writing processes is very far from actually writing a paper, and it takes a very good teacher and very motivated students to get a decent effect out of it. So, there is definitely room for improvement on many levels. Although I believe more in tutoring and talking to students in smaller groups, it isn`t always practical. Sometimes we need to give a lecture..

One way may be to make the lectures more engaging through games and actively involving students through the lectures. The University library in Oslo tested a tool called “clickers” where the students are asked some questions through the lecture and are asked to vote for an alternative or find the right answer to a question. The answers then pop up on the screen and everyone can see the statistics. The teacher then uses the results when s/he continues with the lecture. Another way may be to make a sort of treasure hunt or a game where the students have to make some choices and the teacher acts in a certain way after the choices are made. Teaching students in this way is of course more challenging because it`s less predictable than just going from one slide to another on a ready-made Powerpoint presentation, but it would also be much more interesting.

So, my question is: Who wants to volunteer to make me a game that could work?

2 thoughts on “Gaming as a way of learning information skills?

  1. Simon McCallum says:

    I was part of a trial on clickers in 2005, and tried various ways of interacting with them. With mobile phones and wifi coverage you could do the same thing with web based solutions now. We tried various things including having a live “worm” where the students could vote on if the lecture was understandable.

    The idea of having the student drive some of the direction of the lecture is similar to the difference between writing a novel and writing a game. As game designers we have to create experiences that can be link together in various ways. That is how I design my lectures. You have to think about a thread that holds the content together, but allows the specific details being covered to roam. It helps if you can predict some of the types of questions so you have conceptual modules which you have already designed.

    Perhaps you should join my game design course in first year, and we can see if some of the ideas apply to your instructional design.



  2. Karen Marie Øvern says:

    Thanks, Simon. I`ll definately look into some of the things you mentioned. I`d love to take your game design course! Just a matter of balance and staff here at the library, you know… I`ll get back to you on that.


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