Posts Tagged ‘teaching’

A note from the bleeding edge

Wednesday, May 28th, 2008

I may be a bit older than most of the campers — I used my first computer in 1969 and have been on the bleeding edge of the new technologies game since the late 70s, when I turned a box of IBM cards into a dissertation on men’s clothing. Lately I’ve been feeling cranky and burnt out, particularly after a wicked experience with a hybrid course last fall. I am looking forward to sucking up as much positive energy as possible during THATCamp, and wouldn’t be averse to sharing horror stories of others who have the sting of having innovation smack you backwards. I’m not looking to bitch; I want to figure out what went wrong and save myself some pain next time.

I live in the Maryland suburbs, near UMd and usually prefer public transit, but would be open to carpooling or just hitching a ride to GMU from the closest Metro station and back.

Playing History: Video Games and the Humanities

Tuesday, May 20th, 2008

As we get closer to the camp I thought I would test the waters and see if any of the THATCampers are interested in pulling together a games in the humanities session.

At CHNM Dave and I are in the early stages of planning and developing a collaborative directory for freely available history games and interactives. In my experience, finding serious/educational games on the web is a haphazard and disorganized business. There is no systematic way to search across the content. There are currently thousands of free educational games available online in individual content silos. Broadcasting entities like PBS, BBC, and the History Channel, and subsidiary programs like NOVA, each develop a variety of games associated with their programming, but these are often buried in the very complex sitemaps of their large websites. Similarly, independent educational game developers like Persuasive Games, provide access only to their own offerings. These individual repositories limit the ability of teachers looking for game content related to a specific topic. For history teachers faced with ever increasing burdens on their time it takes far too long to research each of these sites individually. Further, without any means for user feedback, the widely varying quality of these games ensures that web searches return a random mismatch of high and low quality games divorced from their potential classroom use.

Beyond this, if we get funding, we plan to have some historians and history teachers review a subset of these games, with the historians focusing on the historicity of the games and pointing to primary sources that teachers might present to students to read with or against the games argument and the teachers focusing on how the game could fit into the classroom setting.

This brings me to one of the things I would like to pick other campers brains about. What kinds of criteria should these types of games be reviewed against? There are models for reviewing commercial games (Things like this review in game informer), models for reviewing historical works (Like scholarly book reviews), and designed based research offers ideas for assessing curricular activities. This leads to a very practical question for us, what sort of rubric/guidelines and interface do we provide for reviewing games in our project. I do, however, think it is of broader concern as well. What kinds of value do games bring to humanities teaching and scholarship and on what criteria do we evaluate the success of a given game and interactive in the humanities?

Beyond direct responses to my issues anyone interested in games and the humanities please post comments with your thoughts and ideas for discussions/sessions at THATCamp.