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An abstract as a proposal for a conference paper on e-learning games.

The following abstract was written as a proposal for a conference paper. It is therefore a work in progress and will be updated as the paper evolves. So please comment.

This proposed article will aim to introduce readers to the opportunity of using lessons learned from the electronic game art form in their didactic practice. It is widely recognized that a significant amount of learning needs to take place to play an electronic game. This incidental learning is obvious. However, the challenge for our educational practice is learning how to utilize this powerful new communication media’s strategies for intentional learning.

The immersive, interactive and transformative environments that electronic games provide can be used to offer many learning opportunities for learners. Electronic games have rich contexts that can be used to provide learners with authentic situations to explore and learn in. Some games offer communication channels that can be utilized for collaboration and collective knowledge construction. Electronic games are highly engaging and motivating; however, more importantly they are dynamic systems.

Such dynamic systems transform as learners interact with them. They provide instantaneous feedback to the learner. Through play the learner learns to leverage the “rules” of the game to achieve their goals, i.e. they get to understand the system. Dynamic systems afford opportunities for learning 21st century skills and ways of thinking (flexibility, adaptability, prioritizing, risk taking, planning, managing, etc.), which are difficult to teach using traditional methods.

The proposed paper will draw on the author’s studies, work and play experiences to explicate various concepts and techniques, which can be leveraged from games, for application in the educational sector. It will also discuss some of the challenges facing e-learning games. It is important to change the perception that learning and fun are mutually exclusive. Educational service providers often perceive games as pure entertainment with little educational value. While the “games industry”, which has the knowledge, resources and experience of developing commercial electronic games; do not recognize the educational market.

Often children complain that homework is too hard, while complaining that a game is too easy. The challenge is to use what is motivating about games to encourage learning. Many of the successful commercial games have educational worth (for example Sims, Civilizations, Railroad Tycoon, etc.) and some educators are using these games in their curriculum and classroom. There exists an exciting opportunity in South Africa for diversifying the games industry while at the same time expanding our didactic tools and practices.