Saturday, 22 October 2005

Proof of Learning: Assessment in Serious Games

by Sande Chen and David Michael

From the game designers' view of point:

Games and game technology are poised to transform the way we educate and train students at all levels. Education and information, skill training, even political and religious beliefs can be communicated via video games. But these games and repurposed game technology, collectively called "serious games," have yet to be fully embraced by educators.

and slightly further on
the education strategy of "teaching to the test" clearly identifies to the student what is important to learn and what can be ignored just like in-game scores do in entertainment games

Oops. Just like educators who are typically lack of insight into how games have engaged millions, game designers are also having a wrong view of the current education strategies. We would be the last to admit that all the teaching is geared towards tests. Yes, we do what gets measured, but the strategy is not to teach for being measured well.

I believe one of the greatest insight come from Sivasailam Thiagarajan, or more commonly known as Thiagi. From August 2005 issue of PLAY FOR PERFORMANCE
The scoring system in a game determines what is measured (and rewarded). By modifying the scoring system, you can influence what is learned.

In a simple game like this 5-player game:
In this game, the players choose a key phrase (example: simulation game). Each player writes down different words by selecting and rearranging letters from the key phrase. (Sample words from the key phrase, “simulation games”: sin, mule, steam, animal, gasoline, magnate, and limousine) At the end of a time limit, the players compare their lists.

Thiagi came up with 14 different ways of scoring, each emphasising a different aspect of the game.

Assessment should be designed within the game, as part of the scoring mechanism. Be creative. This is a whole new game anyway!

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