Teaching teachers to incorporate gaming

Becker, K. (2007). Digital game-based learning once removed: teaching teachers.  British

Journal of Educational Technology, 38(3), 478-488.

Karen Becker (2007) explores why teachers are hesitant to adopt technology into their on-ground courses.  Because they typically do not have resources of time and equipment, because they may lack an understanding of how to use games, and because they may not read the journals that discuss current practices, the teachers remain aloof to the possibilities inherent in the field.  There are disconcerting voices they may hear in media and from principals and other colleagues to further deepen their nervousness  Some courses are available to teach teachers to think differently about technology (see www.minkhollow.ca/KB/PF/PFGacademe.html#courses) (p. 480).  While teachers have opted to use computers for some things–email, in-class use, reports, presentations and for reference–this is certainly nothing compared to a full integration of technology into content and pedagogy.

The second half of the article focuses on a class in which Becker (2007) is involved.  The goal of the class is to introduce various games teachers could incorporate and how they might think differently about how much and when to use games and other technology in their classes. In one final quotation, Becker (2007) pushes strongly for the use of interactive programs as opposed to the linear technology of television, etc.  She says, “It should not be surprising that today’s learners easily grow bored and restless with books as a medium of learning.  Traditional lecturing approaches require passivity and acceptance, but games are fundamentally dependant on the concept of agency.  ‘Agency is our ability to alter the world around us, or our situation in it.  We are able to act, and that action has effects.  This is probably the first thing we learn as babies.  This is the crucial distinction between interactive and linear entertainment’” (qtd. In Becker, 2007).

The focus of this article drifted, even though Karen Becker (2007) occasionally made strong points.  She began with a clear case of why teachers may shy from incorporating technology, but then only barely supplied an answer:   teach them in teacher preparation programs.  She did not mention the importance of deepening their ability to understand how to blend technology with content and pedagogy.  Perhaps it was assumed that would follow, given the course she was proposing to solve the problem.  This article, coupled with others about TPCK and other preservice teacher coursework, helps provide a stronger foundation for those in teacher prep programs.

Since I am fully involved in a teacher preparation program, I am already interested in encouraging teachers to use technology well.  Our program offers one three-hour class in Educational Technology.  In conversation just this week with the professor, I learned that she is doing well in the overall goals of TPCK.  Students are learning to incorporate technology into both pedagogy and content.  After reading articles such as this (Becker 2007), I am able to speak with more knowledge and guide our professor somewhat for now, and more so as my CMU program continues.

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