Community College Uses Gaming To Bring Real-World Relevance to Courses

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Community College Uses Gaming To Bring Real-World Relevance to Courses

Lambton College is developing a pilot program to test out gaming in six of its courses — including first-year math, electrical circuits, and hair removal — to see if the use of game-playing improves attendance rates and student engagement. Lambton College in Sarnia, Ontario, Canada, an hour north of Detroit, is working with developers at education technology company Desire2Learn to develop the games. The program is expected to be introduced to students in fall 2014.

The college has about 3,600 full-time students and 6,500 part-time students. It offers two-year and three-year diplomas, as well as certificates, advanced diplomas and applied degrees.

Lambton began pondering the use of gaming in its courses shortly after it began promoting the use of mobile technology by its faculty members and students. The college considers itself an “iPad preferred” institution, which means that it provides iPads to all of its instructors, including adjuncts, and encourages students to use iPads as well.

According to Rick Overeem, associate dean of the college’s Learning Innovation Centre, “When we started becoming a mobile college and using devices to teach students, we noticed that as we were walking through the hallways at the college so many students were playing games. I said, ‘There’s got to be a creative way we can get into their world.'”

The challenge has been to persuade students to take seriously those courses for which they see little application in their chosen future careers. For example, candidates in the fire science technology program don’t always understand why they need to take math classes, explained Overeem. “They can’t make that relationship between taking math and applying it to their future careers as fire fighters. But there are so many calculations in fire. They don’t understand that in the moment: ‘Give me the firefighting skills, put me on a truck, and away I go!'” By using “gamification principles in a math course to make it interactive, to make it interesting and engaging the student,” he noted, the school is hoping to help students see the applications of their required courses “outside there in the real world.”

Prototype screens from a game developed by Lambton College and Desire2Learn

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