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Educational games - how it should be…

By Murray Bourne, 13 Sep 2005

Making History (which seems to have disappeared) is an educational simulation game from Muzzy Lane Software. Users are placed in a historical context (either Europe or the Pacific) and they need to make decisions in the roles of various dictators, prime ministers or presidents.

Making History has many of the right elements for an effective educational game:

• Simulations of real events within a real context (authentic learning)
• Students are required to make decisions and learn from the consequences of those decisions
• Collaboration is encouraged (users can either chat privately with other game players or publicly), and classroom discussion is also part of the process
• The possibility for teachers to add details to the game if their emphasis is different (a kind of open-source approach)

I like what I see in this game. It follows many of the concepts that Schank espoused in Designing World Class e-Learning.

Now, let's design mathematical simulations like this where students face real problems in science or engineering (collapse of buildings & bridges, floods, etc). They would need to make decisions on what went wrong and how to prevent it happening again. Whatever algebra is required would surface as the game went along. Algebra would be seen as tool to solve a wider problem (which is its purpose after all) rather than doing it for its own sake.

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