My latest thought about games in education is Hay Day. It hit me when I had a discussion with one of our principals that didn't understood the power of Minecraft. So many adults believe they don't play any computer games but they don't see themselves as doing so, this because the games are on their iPad or iPhone.
My mom is an excellent example of someone who doesn't play video games but probably sitting there with a dozen games of "Words With Friends". She has even invented new own rules: we can not change tiles and if someone accidently pass the other part have to return the game with another pass.
WHAT unintentional learning takes place here?
English vocabulary (meaning and spelling)
WHEN do we learn it?
When we try to find new words.
WHY do we learn?
Because it's fun. And it's multiplayer. You stay in touch with friends...
So, in my colleagues mind they don't play games. Only Angry Birds, Candy Crush Saga and HayDay everyday, but no real games. I asked the principal if she had had a second thought what she really learn while playing Hay Day, and she responded right away; I learn nothing!
Yeah right! But indeed an awesome start to discuss what you really learn from Hay Day and soon we could agree on math, problem solving, language and collaboration.
In Hay Day there is already a functioning economy, there are prospects for a cooperative farm (collaboration part). You can complete (and enhance) your finances by having real money to buy in-game money (or diamonds) only for this game (consumer education)
Since there is a cap of each product you will soon learn to see where you can earn extra by, just like the stock market, buying products cheaply and sell expensive. Or if it is really worth investing in. (Economics)
Challenges in the game, fictitious villagers or goods delivered with deadlines and special rewards require you to plan long term. Sometimes you have to estimate the probability of whether it's even possible to meet a challenge because everything has a production time (math).
Some of these challenges is possible only with cooperation with other neighbors. Derbies are limited events that occur in neighborhoods once a week, those which complete tasks listed on the Derby Stand will rank up and work towards special prizes (collaboration).
Of course there are wiki's and as "the game is horribly addicted" you most probably end up search for information at least once (languages).
So why is this important?
What I'd like to do is make my colleagues, teachers, enlighten of the power of games in education they might start with it. It doesn't need to be more complicated than this and most probably it's a game many teachers already know a lot about.
So, when you use a computer game (in this case, Hay Day) it differs from traditional teaching in the classroom. Suddenly we have gained access to a concrete case in which our students can perform financial transactions that affect their way of understanding how financial markets work from a digital, social and educational content that both affect and are important to them.
Where are we according to SAMR?
By the digital world as Hay Day adds, we can execute trades in a way that had not been possible with just paper and pencil because there already exists an economic system in the game that students (and teachers) are interested of (third level of SAMR: Modification).
Even beyond our educational mission the idea is already alive and exist, it creates entirely new conditions that would not be possible in a regular classroom situation (fourth stage of SAMR: Redefinition).