Over the last thirteen years I have taught or involved myself in education in a variety of non-traditional roles. Primarily I have been concerned with engaging at-risk or disadvantages youth. Simultaneously I have been an avid user of virtual environments, most notably games and especially massively multiplayer online role playing games (MMORPG). These dual passions eventually led to an introduction to a community of gamer educators who were passionate about taking the features of games in the classroom.
Several educators noted the rich literary opportunities. A few educators were intrigued my the opportunity to explore simulated environments that parallel the real world but did not have the costs associated with traditional labs or live action simulations. These content specialized interests have not driven my interest as much as the level of engagement that students experience in games. This particular feature of games fascinates me.
Tracking these mechanics and lifting them from the context of games and into the learning environment is one of my goals. (I do not mean this to indicate that I think these mechanics can be nakedly lifted from games and placed within education. This is a more critical and complicated interaction than I have space to describe here). I plan to form a collaboration with educators practicing game enhanced learning strategies to develop an artifact that may assist educators in implementing engaging mechanics in their curriculum in useful and timely ways. Having a group working on this is quite important due to my limitations as a researcher.
My experiences limit me in that my concepts are influenced by deep knowledge of game design mechanics. Due to this I need collaborators who lack this understanding yet still have an interest in games for learning in order to help clarify the any artifacts. My lack of “traditional” classroom experience can also be seen as limiting since a traditional classroom teacher may not find my findings generalizable. This is yet another reason for a diverse force of collaborators. I think through diversity in experimental contexts the findings might be generalizable enough for further spread and usability of the artifact.