Working Title: Developing Effective Problem-Solving Strategies and Enhancing Creativity Through Video-Gaming
Main Topic: The goal of this paper is to review the existing research on how using Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games (MMORPGs) and other collaborative video-gaming platforms could be utilized as a means to develop problem-solving strategies and enhance creativity in the elementary classroom setting. Another goal is to provide examples of currently available software and applications that promote creativity and problem solving.
As the amount information available to humans increases exponentially, students will not only be required to learn more at younger ages but also understand how to access and manipulate information rather than just memorize facts. Because of this, students will need to develop creative solutions to complete the task at hand while they absorb the required content.
An education system which requires children to meet the minimum qualifications on an objective-based assessment is producing children who cannot develop solutions on their own because the answers are given to them and their job is to pick the correct one out of the available options. What if the best solution is not any of the answers provided? Children are being evaluated and judged based upon the results of these assessments when this is not at all what they will experience in the real world after they have finished school.
Elementary education must transform to reflect what people will experience as adults: creation of products and collaboration with peers. Some growing trends in education are product-based learning and small-group learning, and these can both be enhanced with technology, especially through video-gaming.
Taking ownership of learning processes which requires critical thinking and the creation of final products can result in a deeper understanding of the content. Combining these ideas with a high-level of collaboration and motivation can result in the learning process seeming more like playing and having fun rather than just learning.
Accessibility to a multitude of non-technology-based creative outlets is not always possible fiscally, so technology can allow the impossible due to lack of resources to transform into a world of creative experimentation on a global scale.
Audience: My intended audience is educators and instructional designers interested in developing product-based-learning software and applications requiring a combination of problem-solving skills and creative processes while learning content.
Point of View: Teachers have an unwillingness to move away from the tried and true teaching methods they have been using for years, but technology is changing at such a rapid pace that it will inundate our lives so much in the future we must be willing to allow technology to teach critical thinking and creativity more and more. We must become facilitators rather than instructors. I often say that I am preparing my students for jobs that don’t even exist yet but I do know they will involve technology. Why not use technology now to create graduates who will know how to develop creative solutions because that is exactly what they have been doing in school. My goal is to find research to support that teaching problem-solving and creativity through video-gaming is not only possible but necessary. I also want to show educators and instructional designers practical examples of video games as well as both empirical and anecdotal evidence to support them.
Problems: I fear my vision of “playing to learn” will be too difficult or costly to program, which could be why so few programs are available, so I may have difficulty finding examples much less research to support my thesis. Aside from preschool and kindergarten, adults appear to be unwilling to allow children to “play,” which is exactly what is necessary to develop problem-solving abilities and creativity. I also fear the research I do find may be too critical and unsupportive to substantiate my thesis.
Addressing the Problems: While I’m sure I can find research on developing problem solving skills and separate research on using gaming in the educational setting, I may not be able to find research that combines these ideas, so I may have to make some major leaps in the available research. I will also need to spend some time seeking examples of technology already in use that teaches problem-solving and allows for creativity. I must also take any criticism of using video-gaming in the classroom in stride as well as address those criticisms.
Questions: Can any of my classmates offer examples of games or research on this topic? Do any of my classmates have children in elementary school?