Thing 21: Online Games and Learning Tools

Gamification is a part of life and learning online. Adding elements of game-playing, such as earning rewards, competing with others, tracking progress, and exploring stories, to non-game situations, can make education more engaging and interactive. Thing 21 asks us to explore the work of online educational games, by choosing two from a list and interacting with them.

Shall we Play A Game?

My first choice was the National Museum of Scotland’s games site. As a music librarian, I was particularly intrigued by the World Music Composers game. Unfortunately this is no longer available due to the demise of Adobe Flash Player; the museum’s website provided no information or suggestions for accessing the game via another platform. It took me a bit of time to find a game on the museum website that still works; this ended up being the Which Primate are You? quiz, associated with the museum’s 2016-2017 exhibit Monkey Business (cute) which was about primates.

From this, I learned that I am most like a slow loris, a small, solitary, southeast Asian primate which has a toxic bite, is easily stressed, and responds to threatening situations by freezing in place. As the game informed me:

Like the slow loris, you’re a bit of a loner, happy to be active when the rest of the world is sleeping. But no-one should underestimate you: while you may seem docile, you can act quickly when you need to.

photo of a small brown monkey with a pink nose in a leafy green tree
I’m in this picture and I’m not sure I like it.

The next game I tried was AVATAR: Big Data and Digital Footprints a conceptual computer game for students in year 9 and above, which focuses on introducing people to the internet of things, digital footprints, and the uses of big data through digital exploration of a futuristic smart home. Back in 2019, I explored my own digital footprint; it was very interested to revisit the idea on a much larger scale. I was particularly struck by game’s points about passive data collection and the use of location data. I wanted a few more examples of content that is posted remains part of one’s digital footprint forever, but this didn’t really fit with the overall optimistic tone of the game.

While it is aimed at children, the game seems like something many adults might find helpful, especially those who don’t feel confident in their use and understanding of technology. I recommend checking it out!

Final Thoughts

It’s the time of year where I am just starting to think about professional development goals for 2022-2023, so I might well add some of the code.org games and lessons to my plans for the coming year. Certainly, despite the fact that I will no longer be writing these 23 things posts (only two more Things to go!), I plan to keep actively exploring and learning about digital tools and their role in learning and librarianship.

One thing that exploring the National Museum of Scotland games really brought home is how quickly digital games can go out-of-date. As a historian, I’m used to thinking of content produced in 2016 or 2017 as recent and reliable, which made it very startling that I couldn’t play several of the games on the museum website because the platforms to do so no longer existed. It raises a larger problem with digital knowledge and infrastructures–how can we ensure that these remain stable in an ever-changing digital world?

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