THE "SHIFT" IN EDUCATION

In this short article I’d like to share an idea that came to my mind while I was playing Call Of Duty Black Ops. Things I’ll share might disturb some people but my intention is to create a discussion and find a common sense.

Nuketown2COD is a first person shooter game. When you open the game you see a gun in your hands and you are expected to kill as much people as you can. This game is not for kids and on its cover you can see that it is for people older than 18 but I think this game, or let’s just say some part of this game can be used for educational purposes. Let me provide some details;

- There are 2 teams in the game.

- In each game teams are given certain tasks. For example they try to capture each other’s flags or they try to capture certain points in the map etc.

- The game has different maps. One of them is called Nuketown and this map forced me to write this article. If you keep reading you’ll understand the reason.

- Players can have multiple weapons and they make their choices according to personal talents. If you have good reflexes you can choose to have knife and engage in a close combat, if you are patient enough you can choose to be a sniper.

Up to this point nothing seems special but let’s imagine this: you take your high school students to computer lab where COD is installed in each computer. They form two groups and wait for your instructions. You tell them the type of the game and give them a visual of the map. Then you give them some time to discuss their strategies. An incredible collaboration session starts. Each member of the team is evaluated, questioned, given small tasks etc. After discussions they start playing. At the end of the game one team wins but what were the factors that took them to victory? It’s time to discuss the result. What strategies did they follow? What were the things they couldn’t foresee? What will they do different next time? Just by focusing on the strategic side of the game only can you see the resemblance of these two games?

Screen Shot 2014-08-08 at 00.13.07

On one side there is blood, violonce and addiction possibility. On the other side an opportunity to teach strategic thinking, teamwork, collaboration, communication and many more 21st century skills. It is a fact that many kids under 18 are playing these games and their parents are very concerned. They fear that these games will turn their kids into a killing machine. Maybe we can’t put these type of games into school system but instead of turning our backs to the fact can’t we at least guide parents or share some (possible) practices or do something else?

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2 Comments so far

  1.    Verles on August 8, 2014 18:04      Reply

    Ideally I see your point, however as an educator and administrator of 14 years in a “pass life” who has used technology as a tool in grasping the minds of my students I do not feel COD would be a significant teaching tool. The students will become too engaged into the combat aspect of the game and not the critical thinking and strategic aspects that this post suggests. In addition, girls are only a small percentage of gamers who like first person shooters. What do we do about the remaining girls in the class? Do we force them to play? I should hope not.

    The game I have used in the classroom is Empire Earth. It combines history of different cultures, management of resources (mining of gold, hunting for food, stock piling of wood), Creating a military and defending your society from possible destruction from other civilizations (other students)without the blood and gore of combat. You can even choose different ages in history. This game was liked by Boys and girl alike. I believe network strategy based games like this, creates a more critical thinking environment and a less violent approach.

    •    emrefirat on August 8, 2014 19:43      Reply

      Dear Verles.

      Thanks for the comment. I agree with you. I think strategy games like Civilization are perfect tools. I only wanted to point out the “evil” games and tried to bring an idea that maybe we can change the fact that -students will become too engaged into the combat aspect of the game and not the critical thinking and strategic aspects.

      Thanks again.

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