Learning with Digital Games – Nicola Whitton

I’ve just gotten my hands on an (e-)inspection version of Nicola Whitton’s Learning with Digital Games: A Practical Guide to Engaging Students in Higher Education.

From the introduction,

Two recent UK studies provide evidence that students may not be as comfortable with technology for learning and new ways of working as is commonly assumed. In a study of student expectations of higher education, IPSOS MORI(2007) found that while the group of potential students who took part in their study had grown up with technology they did not value the use of technology for its own sake, but instead put a high value on face-to-face teaching and traditional teacher-student interaction. A recent study by CIBER (2008) also provides evidence that the assumption that young people who are brought up in the information age are more web-literate than older people is false. Although young people show an apparent ease with computers, they rely heavily on search engines and lack critical and analytic skills. In fact, the study claims, character traits that are often associated with young web users, such as lack of tolerance of delay in search and navigation, are actually true of all age groups of web users.

This followed a section dealing & dismissing with ‘digital natives’, that old saw. I like it already! I would love dearly to give you the page number for that reference, but the e-inspection software does not allow me to copy text, so I typed it all out – then my browser reloaded, and the page was reset to 1.

Would you accept that excuse from a student? Of course not… 🙂

(The same digital version, minus bookmarking and annotation tools, can be viewed here). The companion site is here.

Anyway, this looks like a tremendously useful book. Whitton targets her approach explicitly at higher education, from a constructivist point of view. I should’ve ordered a paper copy. You should too!

From the publisher’s blurb:

Written for Higher Education teaching and learning professionals, Learning with Digital Games provides an accessible, straightforward introduction to the field of computer game-based learning. Up to date with current trends and the changing learning needs of today’s students, this text offers friendly guidance, and is unique in its focus on post-school education and its pragmatic view of the use of computer games with adults.

Learning with Digital Games enables readers to quickly grasp practical and technological concepts, using examples that can easily be applied to their own teaching. The book assumes no prior technical knowledge but guides the reader step-by-step through the theoretical, practical and technical considerations of using digital games for learning. Activities throughout guide the reader through the process of designing a game for their own practice, and the book also offers:

A toolkit of guidelines, templates and checklists.

Concrete examples of different types of game-based learning using six case studies.

Examples of games that show active and experiential learning

Practical examples of educational game design and development.

This professional guide upholds the sound reputation of the Open and Flexible Learning series, is grounded in theory and closely links examples from practice. Higher Education academics, e-learning practitioners, developers and training professionals at all technical skill levels and experience will find this text is the perfect resource for explaining “how to” integrate computer games into their teaching practice.

A companion website is available and provides up-to-date technological information, additional resources and further examples.

I have had my own experiences with game-based learning in my classes so I’m looking forward to reading Whitton’s recommendations for design and implementation, to juxtapose with my own experience.

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