Teaching with Call of Duty, World of Warcraft Subject of New Penn State Course

Forget about hunting down just the right educational game for your students. Let them use the games they already love — Minecraft, World of Warcraft and Call of Duty — and then untangle how those can be fit into the learning goals you have for them. Figuring out how to do that as a teacher is the focus of a new course at Penn State.

"Gaming 2 Learn," part of Learning Design & Tech, is being offered online to current and future educators through the university's World Campus. Instructor Ali Carr-Chellman, who once published an article on the Huffington Post titled, "We Need More Games in Schools," said the focus of the course will be on how to use those commercial games to keep students engaged through the use of technology "they use in their everyday lives."

Students who participate in the course will do a project in which they pick a commercial game and describe how it integrates with their chosen content area. They also need to watch kids play their favorite games and play alongside them, then reflect on those experiences.

"As teachers, many of us do not know what games kids are playing," said Carr-Chellman in a university article about the course. "So how can we say whether or not those games are teaching our children anything? By observing and participating in the game, our students can see firsthand what the educational values of these games are."

In her research, Carr-Chellman has reported on the skills students build in their game-playing, including "teamwork, communication, grit and perseverance."

"Technology is only going to continue to grow and change," she noted. "Educators need to learn how to use all types of technology effectively. This course teaches them that even in commercial video games, students are learning a great deal."

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.