Source: MOFET Conference 2011
This year MOFET Institute's Annual Educational Technology Conference was devoted to integrating computer games in various aspect of learning. Various games can contribute to learning information, developing thinking, physical coordination and dexterity, collaborative and decision-making skills, as well as moral judgment capabilities. They have the ability to strongly motivate and provide immediate reward and feedback. The conference provided hundreds of participants an overview of the use of games, simulations, and virtual reality environments to enhance learning and challenge the participants to utilize them in their learning environments.
The Conference was charmingly opened and chaired by Dr. Michal Golan, head of the MOFET Institute. Dr. Uzi Melamed, chairman of the MOFET Forum for Computing in Education & Instruction, described the myriad advantages that gaming can offer for learning and education. He recommended the use of gaming in general and computer games in particular to increase student motivation and enjoyment while attaining and improving many new skills. Children today live in the world of computer games, but do not always choose the best games or the proper number of hours for gaming. We can help them get much more out of their gaming experience.
Lieutenant Colonel Yizchak Gershon, Head of Instruction Development, Israel Air Force, spoke about "The Principles of Learning in Flight Simulators in the Israeli Air Force: Game or Reality?" He described the latest developments in training combat pilots around the world and their implementation in the Israeli Air Force. Although technological developments allow simulators to create learning environments in which the imagination is superior to the reality, they cannot replace the principles of human learning. The development of technology rich learning tools must comply with a systematic view of the training goals, characteristics and personalities of the trainees and the organizational learning culture. He described how advanced flight simulators are integrated into the training programs of different members of the Air Force combat air crews.
Baruch Yaakobi, Principal of the Ein Hayam Experimental School in Haifa, shared the school's vision and implementation of learning in open gaming spaces. Ein Hayam views the school as "life's playground" – a playing organization which develops a "playing pedagogy" and implements it in an assortment of gaming spaces such as the school corridors, the thicket, the beach, the yards and the game workshop. They develop alternative teaching methods, utilizing innovative learning in many different gaming areas. The school employs a "gaming pedagogy", utilizing a full inventory of gaming skills while developing a gaming interpretation to the school curriculum. The school sees itself as a "learning organization" applying the rules of the game to all aspects of endeavor. Each student has a gaming growing track; teachers' training and development is done through gaming and the teachers' meetings and development sessions are gaming sessions serving to develop the teachers' gaming awareness and teaching abilities.
Limor Segev, Director of R&D in the Games for Executives Project of the University of Haifa, Graduate School of Management, gave an overview of the use of games as "Serious Games" for purposes of learning, training and behavior change. She described the use of games in the Games for Executives Project and introduced the Serious Games "WikiMischak" Resource Wiki.
Rotem Porat spoke about "Educational Games from the School to the Community". She described the Young Developers Program of the Karev Fund, in which elementary school students learn to play and create computer based games for the community. Using Microsoft Office or MIT Scratch teams of students from around the country learn how to develop computer games, integrating gaming principles, content, collaboration and community involvement. The students also participate in an annual competition for the best games produced. Three Young Developers from Mazkeret Batya came to demonstrate their prize-winning game!
Dudi Peles, Lecturer and researcher in the Computer Game Design & Development Department at the Beit Berl College described how he adapted the principles of gamification to his computer programming course. By creating a rewarding and competitive atmosphere, awarding achievement points for defined tasks and granting status to the students, their performance level in the course proved to be very high compared to conventional classes. The teacher designed the course to maximize student enjoyment for different student personality types. The rewarded learning tasks were planned to be not too difficult nor too easy in order to maximize flow by preventing anxiety or boredom. The students were constantly informed of their present status and what activities would improve their status. Dudi sees the introduction of gamification principles in course design as a promising field for further exploration.
Lubo Wiezner, gadgets reporter on Israeli TV, described what the classroom of the future could look like with the integration of cutting edge technology.