Using Knowledge Games: Helping Students Co-Create Knowledge through Games

Presented by: Karen Schrier

Can games teach us knowledge we already know and also create new knowledge? Can games enable students to participate in knowledge-making—even in the K-12 classroom?

In this proposed workshop, we will play, discuss, and critique a number of games, such as Foldit, Reverse the Odds, EteRNA, and Happy Moths–all games that enable large-scale human problem solving and contribute new knowledge. These types of games, which I call Knowledge Games, help everyday players create new insights through a game, such as how proteins fold.

Knowledge Games are particularly relevant to the classroom—whether K-12 or college—because they enable players to directly create knowledge. K-12 teachers have involved their students in citizen science projects; for example, helping to categorize galaxies in Galaxy Zoo, or sift through sand to find fossils in Sharkfinder. Can classrooms also incorporate games in the same way?

Participants of this workshop will get a basic understanding of Knowledge Games, their purpose and goals, and their limits and potentials. We will discuss ways to incorporate the games into the classroom, and begin to discuss the open questions, challenges, and opportunities that remain for these types of games. For example, what are the privacy issues? How can we trust data collected from students? Are certain types of knowledge-related questions more relevant to games (scientific versus social/humanistic?)? Will students be as excited about these types of games as ones on their consoles at home? What can we do to motivate students to contribute to solving real-world problems through games? Are there ways of designing and implementing Knowledge Games that are particularly effective?

Participants will leave with:

(1) An understanding of Knowledge Games

(2) Useful tips on how to use these types of games in the classroom

(3) Strategies on managing the limits, drawbacks, and challenges of these games.

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