Collaborative Learning via Simulations and Games
Collaborative learning and simulations and games have been studied extensively for their utility in educational settings. An amalgamation of the two, however—collaborative learning via simulations and games (CLSG)—has not been researched substantially. Collaborative learning and simulations and games for learning are grounded in sociocultural/situated learning theory; knowledge is co-constructed by learners with each other and with the tools of their context. Learners engaged in a CLSG environment are afforded opportunities to enhance 21st century skills, teamwork skills, and a variety of content-specific skills and knowledge. CLSG contexts include a range of possibilities, from massively multiplayer online role-playing games, to team building sites, to simulated medical emergencies. Such contexts encourage inquiry, risk-taking, creative-problem solving, and student construction of knowledge. CLSG curricula should encourage instructors to take on a role of facilitator, rather than enacting direct instruction. Assessments of CLSG are not traditional paper-and-pencil tests. Rather, learners can be assessed through demonstrating potential for future learning, through choice-based assessments, through assessment inherent in simulations and games, and through practicing reflection. Implications of CLSG for my career in education include implementing aspects of CLSG into teaching high school equivalency classes to adult learners, as well as training other adult education teachers and developing adult education curriculum. In general, CLSG affords educators a motivating and engaging tool to enact in diverse ways in a myriad of learning environments to teach a variety of possible skills. Unfortunately, the benefits of CLSG have been largely unrealized in traditional school settings. As technological advancement continues, CLSG may take on a larger role in schools, which could help bring about higher quality learning for students.