Learning and Games
From CS 160 Fall 2008
Lecture on 10/1/2008
[How Children Learn] Chapter 4 from "How People Learn," Brown et al., National Academy Press
[Effective Teaching: Examples from History, Mathematics and Science] Chapter 7 from "How People Learn," Brown et al., National Academy Press
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Perry Lee 05:08, 24 September 2008 (UTC)
I agree with most of what is said in Chapter 7, "How People Learn." Looking back at high school, I was generally dissatisfied with the teaching methods. It felt like each class simply demanded the ability to regurgitate facts -- how well one did corresponded to one's ability to memorize. What I like about this chapter is its focus on deep understanding, or as my high school was fond of mindlessly repeating (without carrying out), "critical thinking." What seems to discern the "good", innovative teachers from the less innovative ones is their ability to make seemingly abstract and random facts relevant to students -- to actually show students how they can apply what they learn. A good teacher gives students free reign in exploring what they want to learn, and provides constructive criticism that places more focus on understanding than the simple memorization of facts.
Vedran Pogacnik 06:00, 24 September 2008 (UTC)
In Brown’s first article, he mentions habituation. That is a phenomenon that cannot be easily applied to all games; that is, it cannot be applied to good or great games. Consider CoD or H-L, multiplayer: the same event is happening all over again (you shoot someone, or someone shoots you), yet, unlike babies that stop responding to repeated presentations of the same event, young people like teenagers seem to do it more often and with more zeal (drawn from personal observations and experience). Perhaps we need to go a little deeper into semantics of the word “habituate”, and define the phrase “same event”. Applied to “serious games”, the concept of habituation seems more plausible. For example, drawing from an example from the very first lecture, the girl who brushes her teeth, I think she would stop responding to the display panel after a few (dozen?) times she brushed her teeth. The sheer word “serious” takes out the principal motivation for playing.
I think that Brown’s second article is making the same mistake that everybody talking about teaching is making. It focuses on the teacher, rather than the student. In addition, paying heed to “pedagogy” means that politics, social standards, morality and similar yada yada are involved, making the situation a Gordian Knot. I think that as with jobhunting, if there isn’t a match between a job and an applicant, there will not be a job offer. Similarly, no matter how good a teacher is, he will not be able to teach the student if the student’s learning style doesn’t conform.
Maybe the best style of learning is to make somebody learn by the seat of their pants. That is true for games, and I draw from my personal experience, when learning how to play video games like strategy genre. It took me about a month at the age of nine to figure out (at the time) quite complex logic and interface of Stracraft.
On a tangent, I think that the subject matter being taught has a lot of influence on the effectiveness of learning. The most fool-proof way of studying math is to practice problems. History, for instance, cannot be taught that way. Maybe the amount of subjects taught at a young age hinders people from achieving full potential in what they later choose to study. Personally, I’ve often wondered if we could make the next Einstein if we teach that person only physics and math since a six years old?
Jimmy Nguyen 07:47, 30 September 2008 (UTC)
I agree with most of the first article about how children learn, but disagree with how it applies to this class. Yes, it would be a good idea to think of your target as a “blank slate”, but it also and will depend on what your target user group is. I believe in the thought of making everything just logical, as if a person (could be child) just thinks of what to do step by step, as in a workflow. To be trivial or redundant (habitual) to make everything relatively easy for a child can potentially be too much. Apple has really good interface, but I wouldn’t say that it is 100% child friendly.
I definitely agree with the second article a lot more. In my past project experiences, I have had the most fun and success working by myself or with a group/partner that knows more about the project than just “coding” . Not only does it make it more interesting, but with background in the field, it is better to develop and understand what is needed to reach the end goal or product.
In any case, a good teacher will best be able communicate his or her ideas to their students, thus the job of the UI designers and the target audience.
Witton Chou 10:27, 30 September 2008 (UTC)
In How Children Learn I see how children will utilize physical interactions to understand the world around them especially when understanding how objects interact with each other and what natural behaviors massive objects obey. It is interesting that certain abilities develop at different ages in their early years. These learning patterns work well and it seems that these are the methodologies humans learn best with as they grow older.
I remember in elementary school math was first taught to me using blocks. One small cube is 1, a stick ten of these cubes is 10 and a plane of blocks that was ten by ten is 100. When being taught what eight times ten equals, we took eight groups of ten blocks (the sticks) and added them together to see that eighty is the result. The physical interaction with blocks rather than straight memorization of the times table really helped to understand what 8x10 meant. Even as people grow older, physical interaction is still a crucial part of learning. We learn physics by doing experiments and shooting marbles at each other to observe momentum transfer and the like.
It is definitely important to understand how people learn as we can take advantage of these behaviors in our quest to better streamline the human interaction interface with the underlying mechanisms of the product.
Jordan Berk 20:45, 30 September 2008 (UTC)
The discussion of "privileged domains" in How Children Learn of learning "such as biological and physical causality, number, and language" made a lot of sense to me. It seems that these types of learning are built-in on a deeper level than more 'academic' learning like math or reading, for example. With the obvious exception of language, the tasks that were used to test this type of learning could be applied to most non-human mammals with the same results. Not knowing anything about how the brain develops, it seems that more primitive, less evolved brain functions develop first, and for this reason the infants are predisposed for the most fundamental types of knowledge and learning as their young brains develop. Even as we grow older and have more developed brains, these domains of knowledge still form the core of what we know.
Buda Chiou 23:31, 30 September 2008 (UTC)
The title of chapter 7 of "How people learn" is "Effective Teaching: Examples from History, Mathematics and Science". However, the ways of teachings that proposed in this chapter is not effective at all. The author gives many examples of the unique teaching ways in the three area, history, mathematics, and science, and one thing they have in common is that they all focus on the understanding the material instead simply memorizing the content, which will definitely take a lot more time on a simple material than just memorizing it. Of course, this way of teaching is much more helpful for students who want to become experts in these areas, but the true is most people won't. For students who don't want to be the experts of these areas, this way of teaching just wasting time because these materials may mean nothing to their future. History, mathematic and science may relate to our future work in some ways, but they are just used as tools, and it's meaningless to totally understand tools we use. For example, if we just use cars as our transportations, do we need to know how a car works? We may drive better if we know, but we rather spend our time in more meaningful matter. Therefore, for most materials we learn, we just have to memorize how to use them instead totally understand how it work unless they are going to be our future work or we are really interested in them.
Jeffrey Rosen 06:08, 1 October 2008 (UTC)
It is interesting how children learn. It makes a lot of sense. People have to start somewhere. What was more interesting was the ways people came up with in order to measure their development. For example, observing that a pacifier can indicate their interest in something, or creating a pattern of images and seeing if the child can predict where to look for the next one. I also found it funny that they look at things that seem impossible, like if a ball goes behind an obstacle but doesn't come out the other side. One thing to note is that children's brains very different from adult brains. They learn exceptionally fast and the brain makes countless associations in its early life. After the developmental phase, many things just stop occurring, which is why developmental disabilities are so critical.
Kumar Garapaty 06:34, 1 October 2008 (UTC)
I found the part in Chapter 7 when the kid was surprised about how much he learned, extremely interesting. Learning usually has an extremely negative connotation for children who would much rather go out and play. Its not only that learning games provide entertainment value so that students would be more willing to learn, its that the thought or the definition of learning itself shouldn't even exist for the child when playing the game. Without this definition, students can more easily learn without the painful process of "learning."
Creating your own methods of solving problems also seems interesting. I often find from my own experience in science classes that when I never use the concept, I don't usually remember it. But by trying to solve the problems, I do start to understand the concepts. Of course, I don't remember the original concepts from the first time I hear it, so I have to relearn/actually learn these concepts. Therefore, I don't think there is any real purpose of explaining a concept (for the first time) but rather trying to solve the problem then find out why that concept exists makes me understand that concept a lot more.
KevinFriedheim 07:04, 1 October 2008 (UTC)
Brown's work in Chapter four seems to simply prove the fact that, when it comes to children, its "monkey see, monkey do." Although these children have some cognitive reasoning ability, Brown tells us that in reality, its what these kids learn from society that shapes what they learn. But of course, he also tells us that *how* they learn is something else. Since game and interface design really doesn't focus on a crowd of age specifiable by months, I think it best to understand how the later years of development so that we can accelerate or at least facilitate learning (which is exactly the area that Brown touches upon in Chapter 7). Brown makes an interesting point (or at least, alludes to this point) that teaching is biased, always. This is true of every learning experience, and of every subject. Take Math. A Math professor can teach math many ways, but the method he will use is the one he personally finds the best (or perhaps its the only method he himself knows) when in fact, students have varied learning abilities (as Brown proves in his book). Drawing from personal experience, I learn best by examples rather than theory. That is, you can tell me a hundred different ways how to add, but until you show me 1+1, I won't understand fully. On this note, I think that matching a learning interface with the learner's "learning ability" is key to building a sucessful interface.
Haosi Chen 07:25, 1 October 2008 (UTC)
I definitely agree with the second article a lot more. In my past project experiences, I have had the most fun and success working by myself or with a group/partner that knows more about the project than just “coding” . Not only does it make it more interesting, but with background in the field, it is better to develop and understand what is needed to reach the end goal or product. The best style of learning is to make somebody learn by the seat of their pants. That is also true for games, and I draw from my personal experience, when learning how to play video games like strategy genre. It took me a while when i was a kid to figure out quite complex logic and interface of Warcraft. I think that the subject matter being taught has a lot of influence on the effectiveness of learning. The most fool-proof way of studying math is to practice problems. History, for instance, cannot be taught that way. Maybe the amount of subjects taught at a young age hinders people from achieving full potential in what they later choose to study.
Wenda Zhao 07:27, 1 October 2008 (UTC)
Effective teaching:Examples in History, Math and Science is a fun and interesting chapter to read. It provided many examples of the applications of the theories.I enjoyed reading how they use a very different approach to teach people Math. Teachers should first understand how young people and old people learn things differently, and then use the unique approch to teach targeted group. I definely learned something new about how to guide people to learn new stuff.
Bing Wang 07:37, 1 October 2008 (UTC)
The first article does not seem very relevant to the learnings that we are doing in our games, or at least for the game that my group is doing. It seems that the article targets how infants learn instead of grown children. The article did a good job describing the possible and impossible things that an infant might perceive but it's another story to get inside their head and communicate with them in order to really know what they are doing. Many articles have suggested that infants are very good learners as their minds are fresh. However, I am not sure how accurately a game can be in carrying the actual information across. My point is that you probably do not want the infants to play the game and learn something incorrectly.
The second article seems to be more in line as to how people learn. The article talked about different subjects in grade schools. It does seem that every teacher has a different preference on how they want to teach the subject, but I think the underlying knowledge that one gets should be the same. I think the higher in the education ladder you climb, the differences might become more evident as top researchers might have different idea of pursuing things. As for the regular audience, I agree that many people learn through different methods and game is definitely a good way to get people to learn. However the serious objective is hard to teach through a game.
Xuexin Zhang 07:49, 1 October 2008 (UTC)
In chapter 4 “How Children Learn” of his book, Brown reveals the fact that children’s learning process is a type of “development of language, causal reasoning, and rudimentary mathematical concepts”. Furthermore the development process is based on children’s understanding of real world. According to my past experience when educating my younger cousin, children have the ability to learn new things from their understanding of the world and it would be a good idea to guide them during their learning experience to make sure they are on the correct track.
In chapter 7 “Effective Teaching”, Brown covers many examples in History, Mathematics, and science. I agree with the idea of that teacher should have different approach when educating about different subject due to its own nature in addition to having a solid knowledge of the material. Also, I believe that timely feedback from students could also make the teaching more effective.
nathanyan 07:57, 1 October 2008 (UTC)
While Brown's chapter 4 text talked about the habituation of babies as a means to measure comprehension, it brings up a valid point about the design of our games, which is namely, replay value. If games are boring, people lost interest and stop playing, and thus the "serious" lesson we try to teach with our games becomes meaningless if the user quits or simply becomes disengaged (mentally). One of the easiest ways for a game to become boring is repetitiveness - a game simply isn't stimulating if it continually presents the same content in the same manner.
I don't know if I really follow the actual point of that text, which is simply making the argument that babies are in fact very capable of learning - I don't think it necessarily applies to this class anyhow, because we haven't really been focusing specifically on educating babies, and we've pretty much been assuming that our average target user would have fully learning capabilities.
Mike Kendall 08:07, 1 October 2008 (UTC)
I'm not a fan of Brown's emphasis on rote learning. Even in his section about history, instead of talking about how history can be taught in an interesting way that avoids the emphasis on memorizing... he describes a classroom in which the teacher is good because he talks about how the FIELD is important and interesting. He discusses the methods for historical analysis and why they are important. He pushes the idea that history is interpretive and subjective, but how does this change the date/fact paradigm?
It doesn't... Sure, the teacher did impart some important knowledge into his students, but that knowledge doesn't have anything to do with critical thinking... What I wanted to read was that his tests were different so that they gratified an understanding of things that happened rather than the facts about them.
Anthony Kilman 09:04, 1 October 2008 (UTC)
It is in fact, quite interesting how children learn. One has to acknowledge that a child's brain is very different from a mature adults brain. During the developmental phase, the child's brain is learning at an exponential rate. In relation to serious games, most children would prefer to "go out and play" as a fellow student put it rather than go through the formal learning process. If the learning process were to be made fun to a child, the benefits could be quite impressive.
Paul Im 09:18, 1 October 2008 (UTC)
The main theme throughout both articles seemed to be that there are multiple ways for us to learn. There are also many different factors that contribute to optimizing our learning abilities. Some of these may be age, content, and external factors.
In ‘How Children Learn,’ Brown seems to argue that our home environment contributes a lot to our learning styles. In the context of this class however, there does not seem to be a ‘best’ way to optimize the interface of our games so that we can accommodate for everybody’s learning styles. In most situations, this seems like an unrealistic goal to have. The best we can probably do is to find what generally works best for everyone.
In ‘Effective Teaching’ Brown says that teachers not only need to understand subject content, but they also need to know the best ways to deliver the information to their students. I agree with Brown’s opinion. If we can deliver information through obvious, in-context methods, the learning process would be much easier for everybody. In the context of our serious games, we hope to provide very clear affordances.
Shyam Vijayakumar 09:36, 1 October 2008 (UTC)
In Chapter 4, Brown mentions that at first children were thought to be born with minds as blank slates. Then eventually other theories came into play. When I took a developmental psychology course last semester, I learned all about this. Basically, the question here is nature vs. nurture. Who shapes you: the environment or your own natural tendencies. This can be applied to user interfaces in general. Should user interfaces appeal to the user's natural tendencies or appeal to the user's memories of other user interfaces he has seen already? I think the answer here is that it should do both, but it's probably more important to take into account the user's natural tendencies.
Gary Wu 09:55, 1 October 2008 (UTC)
The "Zone of Proximal Development" definitely strikes a chord of logic. Taking a step back and analyzing how babies learn definitely says a lot about how adults learn in general too. I think that the idea of learning with assistance now and performing independently later makes a lot of sense. I know for a fact that this is how I learn the quickest. Whenever I am approached with something new, having someone there to walk me through once makes it a lot easier for me to do on my own afterward. These psychologists really hit the nail on the head with that theory.
In the article "How People Learn" I found that the section on "Different Views of History by Different Teachers" to be very true. I have a friend of mine that is a teacher and will refuse to use textbooks because of all the American propaganda, and sometimes outdated and racists ideals and facts used in the books. Depending on the teacher, the history that you and I know may be skewed. I remember in middle school, the teacher pointed out to us to not always believe what you read in books. The textbook was clearly old and outdated and definitely had racist ideals interleaved within the paragraphs. However, thanks to technology, we now have wikipedia and online encyclopedias that are constantly being updated and reviewed.
Mohammed Ali 09:59, 1 October 2008 (UTC)
The first article seems to not be in conjuction to what we are doing in class. It mainly speaks about how infants learn when our games are clearly not meant for them. Our users will definitely not have clean slates. They will come to the game with pre concieved notions on how the world works, thus, how a game is played. In order to have a successful game, I believe that have the user learn the whole game will not be wise. This actually goes against the principle of recognition over recall. As a matter of fact, we should make our games comfortable to our users by mapping our game concepts and controls to real world ideas and functions.
The second article dicusses different approaches to teaching kids. I agree with this becuase this way, the whole spectrum of learning is benefited. If only one method is used, then only one type of learner will benefit.
Trinhvo 10:05, 1 October 2008 (UTC)
What a long reading assignment! At first, I thought the reading was irrelevant. Why would I care about learning abilities of children? But think about it, since we're making serious games, and most of serious games are written for children. So clearly understanding of children will help us design good interfaces. Interfaces vary according to users' ages.
Volodymyr Kalish 10:19, 1 October 2008 (UTC)
Before learning starts one needs to learn how to learn. Of course this seems like an endless loop that you cannot get into. Therefore one learns by experiencing at first. Then, the experiences, no matter whether good or bad, provide a feedback - valuable lessons learned. This doesn't mean that a person already learned THE LESSON, but rather some vague understanding of it. Repeiting this experience -> feedback -> lerning loop reminds me of iterativ user interface design pattern. That's how people really learn, imho.
Karen Tran 10:56, 1 October 2008 (UTC)
I thought the first article “How Children learns” was very interesting and informational. I agreed that we all start out with a “blank slate” and we aggravate and grow from our experience, trial-and-errors, etc. Although I’m a bit dubious how this concept applies to games. We don’t really start out with a “blank slate” when we pick a game we like to play. Drawing from my own experience, I find myself researching quite a bit on a game, asking around, knowing a substantial amount of knowledge about the game before I decided to buy the game. And usually my choice of games is based on the familiarity of games that I’ve played before. So I didn’t really start out “cleanly” when I actually get a hands-on experience with the game.
In the second article, “Effective Teaching: Examples from History, Mathematics, and Sciences,” I find myself being able to identify with a lot of the examples given in the text. One of the most annoying and even non-encouraging things about classroom work in high school and younger is the focus on getting the facts straight and memorized. The emphasis on getting the questions right is too strong that sometimes “the ends justify the means”: as long as you get a good grade, it doesn’t really matter if you get the concept or not. And more often than not, getting a good score on an exam does not reflect your knowledge of the materials being tested. For example, for history classes, the emphasis to get the facts memorized is weighed so heavily that the students learn nothing besides dates. Therefore, they missed the true purpose of learning history, which is “to understand how history is a discipline that is guided by particular rules of evidence and how particular analytical skills can be relevant for understanding events in their lives.” More and more, we find that “despite the volume of historical information the students possessed, they had little sense of how to use it productively for forming interpretation of events or for reaching conclusions.” I think this concept could be applied to games. Instead of focusing on the game designers and their work, we should focus on the users and their reactions to the game. A “serious” game could be made fun if we don’t exactly focus our attention on just teaching the subject to the users. But we also have to find a fun way to do it. The goal of teaching history, math, or science is to educate the students, equipping them with the knowledge. But the road to that goal doesn’t have to be grinding the facts into them. Similarly, the goal of a serious game is for the target users to gain knowledge on a certain subject. Designers should think of a stimulating way to reach that goal other than just teaching it, because sooner or later, the game will become boring to the users if they can’t draw excitement from it.
Hao Luo 11:26, 1 October 2008 (UTC)
The first article discussed how babies learn, how they start out with a blank slate, how they develop rather powerful cognitive tools for learning, and the environmental impulses that guide their learning. This can be helpful if we were designing games for children, especially educational games, that focuses on how kids learn and how we can effectively help them learn the material using the game we designed.
The second article talked about methods of teaching in schools. I am not convinced that the methods described are the panacea to education as the article described. In some instances, I think there is too much effort put into being too creative, too clever. Often I find that in many classes that are taught poorly, there is a lack of organization. In order to teach effectively, there needs to be structure, goals, and a thorough understanding of what the students know and what the students need to be taught. On top of that, the material needs to be presented in a simple and interesting matter. We need to make the material as straightforward and easy to understand as possible. In many of these teaching exercises I fear the fundamentals are lost, and the material is often not clear at all. There seems to be no clear goal, except that the students dubiously decide what needs to be taught. I think the needs for such convoluted teaching methods and how this is actually an improvement over most classes speaks volumes about the quality of education in this country today.
Frank Yang 11:33, 1 October 2008 (UTC)
At first I felt it was odd that we would need to know how babies think in order to help create better UIs, but the more I thought about it, the more it made sense. True, not every UI in the world is created with a baby in mind, but it helps to learn how one actually learns to adapt to the situation. The ability to know or predict what another person may think when they see a new UI is extremely valuable. People do not approach UIs knowing exactly where everything is; they must learn where it is, and the faster you learn it, the better the UI is. And also, I wholeheartedly agree that teaching methods are important. One key thing I feel like I should remember is that when one is given a UI, it the goal of the designer to teach the user how to use it without physically being there to tell him or her. That is the whole objective of creating UIs. A user struggling with a UI is a sign of poor teaching.
Jacekmw 11:51, 1 October 2008 (UTC)
The concept given about babies' ability to learn seems to me, while somewhat useful, not all that applicable to our games, at least my group's. While I could see this being useful for a group doing a game for young children or babies, most groups, as I understand, are doing games for an older crowd that does not need to learn everything on its own and comes in with expectations, not only of fun but also of what they want to learn. The "physical causality" mentioned in "How Children Learn" makes a lot of sense in hindsight, since babies I have seen do indeed try to press button, pull toys, and so forth. This reinforces the idea of using buttons and manipulation in the game project since it is so ingrained in human recall systems.
Antony Setiawan 14:57, 1 October 2008 (UTC)
I mostly agree about how infants learning process affects human mind in the long run. An interesting experiment "using" 5-12 weeks old baby to control a film by sucking pacifier. It is intersting that the infant actually knows what's going on and learn that sucking the pacifier would play the film. It also brings me to wonders on how infant could actually prefers clear image over blurred image. Another experiment shows 3-5 years old kid subconciously reconciled the number of toys he's been playing with. All goes back to the point that the best learning process should begin on early days....
I somehow feel that chapter talked too much about teacher. In all example and cases that is provided, it more focused on how good the teacher's teaching skills are rather than student's learning process. I can somehow relate us, UI designer, as teachers. As learning and teaching process in the school greatly affected by teachers, the learning process of our target users will also be greatly depends on how we design our apps. I might be wrong....
Saliem Than 15:25, 1 October 2008 (UTC)
I found two things interesting. The first thing that I noted was the observation that when a child was told to eat the apple when in the playpen, the child threw the apple, and when told to throw the apple when in the highchair, the child ate the apple. That tells me that children, perhaps people in general, learn best through observing interactions and situations,not necessarily through what's being said to them.
The other thing I found interesting was the situation involving the middle class children and the black children. They learn differently because of the way they were brought up to communicate. So I guess being more conscious and aware of communicating while teaching and or learning will greatly improve the transfer of information between apprentice and mentor
Yuta Morimoto 16:17, 1 October 2008 (UTC)
"How People Learn" remind me during highschool. In high school, a teacher of history told me that if you want to remember many historical facts, you should combine them with other related historical facts. He said one of the important method of understanding history is making a relationship between them, because memory is retirieved like chemical chain reactions. Even if I forgot something important, I might reach them by remembering other facts relating them. I think what the teacher said is similar in some ways mentioned in "How People Learn".I think ,to take advantage of concept, most user interfaces have similarities to other user interfaces, because user can infer the function of user interface.
Geoffrey Lee 16:40, 1 October 2008 (UTC)
I would be very interested to see the same study of infants conducted with animals, with the learning rates of infant animals compared against the learning rates of older animals. This might provide us with further clues as to how age affects learning. For example, house pets such as dogs have been occasionally known to dial 911 when its owner is in distress, so they clearly have a concept of causality as well. By providing the same causality test which involved the infants and hooks to pull objects, we can test various animals at various ages to see how they react.
Stuart Bottom 17:03, 1 October 2008 (UTC)
It's important to consider how our games can be developed with children in mind. As Brown describes in Chapter 4, kids, even the very young, are a lot smarter than we sometimes think. It may be possible, even with small edits or slight changes, to make many of our games friendly for much younger children. This is the beauty of a serious game - often, it is meant to teach something - and children are often eager and ready to learn about something even if it's way over their heads. I'm pretty sure this eagerness to learn is something that can be capitalized on to a much greater degree, even in applications where the skill being taught is a very "grown-up" one. There is absolutely no harm in exposing children to a grown-up task earlier on; all it does is allow them to be better prepared when they meet it. Given the gaming nature of our projects, kids might just have a bunch of fun too - nothing wrong with that either.
Kai Lin Huang 17:09, 1 October 2008 (UTC)
The way a serious game teaches its players to play can imitate the ways of how children learn although they are not all the same. Children are able to observe and learn from procedures that their peers or guardians show them repeatedly as How Children Learn describes. If the target players are children, then the game may follow an intuitive approach, such as showing an example routine as a tutorial to get started. Teenagers and adults can learn and memorize with their existing learning strategies and their perceived structures from the world. The serious games that target these two groups can help them learn by utilizing something they are familiar with, such as a tetris game with states' names to help players memorize states' name and locations(Statris). Even though a game cannot be made entirely as a traditional learning scenario like how mothers teach their children, it can make use of the underlying teaching routine, such as point to an item and say its name out.
Kevin Lam 17:11, 1 October 2008 (UTC)
Although I found the articles very interesting, I too thought they were irrelevant to many of our projects unless we were working with children. For instance, when designing a financial game you don't often have to be concerned about the user "using bodily actions, such as leg kicking and arm movements." However, there are some observations worth noting. Namely, the fact that children learn differently applies to adults as well. When designing any system or program, we should be aware of our user's learning styles. Perhaps we need to incorporate text in addition to visual aids on a screen.
Cynthia T. Hsu 17:13, 1 October 2008 (UTC)
Chapter 4 is interesting from a philosophical and high level perspective. I liked the definition of the zone of proximal development, which embodies a concept of readiness to learn that emphasizes upper levels of competence." This is described as how much the child can perform with assistance at any given time and how this enables independent performance in the future, helping to prepare it for "new adn more demanding collaboration" in the future. I thought that this was an interesting concept to keep in mind when developing games (one of the advantages of serious games over traditional methods of interaction is the social interaction allowed. In terms of the design of the interface design itself, it also seemed reminiscent of the problems Professor Canny raised with the OLPC project - that while usable with assistance, it was very difficult for children to explore on their own.
At first I thought it was interesting although completely irrelevant to this class the story of how infants learned to bring a movie into focus by sucking on a projector lens, but Stuart's post really convinced me to think about the potential of converting our games into some sort of medium that even infants can learn from. Of course, this might be reminiscent of hypnopaedia as in Brave New World, but that's besides the point.
Chapter 7 was much more interesting. I was amused by the description of a room of sixth graders in which students list individual questions they would like answered and then our put into groups where they share lists and come up with a group set of questions that are ranked by priority. It seemed very reminiscent to our brainstorming assignment. I actually feel like this classroom environment (Barb Johnson's), however, is an ideal that is very very difficult to achieve through a game. Jingtao mentioned that games which had one specific focus instead of trying to accomplish too much would be much more successful; Barb Johnson's sixth grade class clearly succeeds largely because of the presence of an adult mediator. I imagine that this could be replicated in an RPG, with the teacher being the quest giver, but at the same time, that seems to be trivializing something that's already fun and interactive.
I also really liked the description of history. I personally really like history, but I can understand why it can be seen as an endless list of dates and facts. There was one teacher I had freshman year of high school who made us write an essay on the first day of class on "What is history?" It seems like these kinds of large philosophical issues afford a lot of interaction and make the subject matter much more visceral, which is useful in making it more tangible and memorable. And reading the differences between Ms. Kelsey's and Ms. Barnes's comments and grading on page 161 (7 in the PDF) ... I was really impressed by the effect the juxtaposition had. Ms. Kelsey's response requires a large amount of time investment and dedication which is very laudable, but in some ways I wish it were the absolute minimum fedback that teachers were allowed to give.
In general, I found the reading in chapter 7 ver=y reminiscent of my own high school experiences. I was surprised that some of the other people in the class described how they had missed out on these "novel" interactive techniques in high school, and am very grateful for the opportunity to have participated in this form of education during my middle and high school years.
Jonathan Fong 17:28, 1 October 2008 (UTC)
The most poignant point I found in the reading was that learning exceptionally strong for those that learned "how to" learn. In other words, the framework in which concepts and techniques are plugged in make a big difference in a learner's understanding. The undergraduate students who understood the physics had a hierarchical framework to plug the problem-solving skills into. From personal experience, this is how I learn best. I do not want just the concepts as a laundry list, but I the "big picture" of how they relate to each other. Then, I have almost a roadmap or flow-chart on how to approach problems or get from one concept to another. Likewise, games can be a good means of teaching something in a context of solving problems.
JoshuaKwan 17:36, 1 October 2008 (UTC)
One of the most formidable things about babies (and most children) is the power of their brain to acquire language. If a child is raised in the proper immersive context, he or she can learn 2 or 3 languages fluently. Just look at the number of bilingual-raised people here at Cal. As for the learning methods of the older people, I really agree with the studies of outstanding history teachers - basically, if the history is taught well, it is learned naturally because the students will find it important. I .. almost .. had such an experience in high school, but not quite.
James Yeh 00:48, 2 October 2008 (UTC)
The first reading on learning was eye-opening in that it revealed the mental and learning capacities of young children to be much higher than I expected. The fact that children are able to recognize physical and spatial concepts is impressive, but what was even more surprising was their language processing and number recognition capabilities. In addition, it made sense that each child had to develop their own learning mechanisms in their own way, and that this sometimes required willpower and effort. There were many diverse strategies that children use to solve certain problems, and it was surprising to find out that children may use different strategies on the same problem. I agree with the author’s description of the multiple intelligences and self-directed learning, as children need to be self-motivated to learn but may be affected by outside environmental factors.
In the second reading, I was surprised by the author’s analysis of how history could be taught, because I initially believed that history was a subject to be only memorized and recited. I never realized that history was all about the approach on the subject, and the author’s description definitely made history seem more interesting and vivid. On the other hand, being an engineer, I was not surprised by the description of how to teach math and science, as I already knew that in order to teach math and science to the non-tech-savvy, you have to put the subject into simple terms that the student can relate to. However, after taking so many complex math and engineering courses in college, I have become somewhat jaded to fact that the more difficult topics in the area often do not directly relate to the physical world, and are mostly theoretical.