Using Games-Based eLearning Technologiesin Overcoming Difficulties in Teaching Information Systems
Thomas Connolly, Mark Stansfield, University of Paisley, United Kingdom
JITE-Research Volume 5, Number 1, ISSN 1539-3585 Publisher: Informing Science Institute
The contributions of this research center on two major areas: delineation of a new model of distance education in which the authors identify three generations of eLearning; and examination of how eLearning and games-based eLearning technologies can be used to enrich the Information Systems (IS) learning experiences of students with different learning styles. Before considering these contributions, some background material on eLearning is useful. eLearning has profoundly changed many aspects of society and, inevitably, it is having a significant impact on Higher Education, where it has now evolved from a marginal form of education to a commonly accepted alternative to traditional face-to-face education. The term can cover different delivery models ranging from courses that are delivered fully online (no face-to-face meetings) to courses that provide some face-to-face interaction and some online provision (sometimes called blended learning). Within this continuum interactive technologies can play a significant role in engaging the learner and providing a rich learning experience. The authors highlight some key educational merits of eLearning and games-based eLearning and highlight a number of examples where games-based eLearning has been applied elsewhere in the areas of management and administration, and business. This paper provides a new model for distance education in which the authors identify three generations of eLearning. The first generation was concerned mainly with the passive use of the Internet. The second generation was characterized by more advanced technologies such as eAssessment and Virtual Learning Environments. The current third generation of eLearning is focused more on collaborative learning environments based on areas such as reflective practice through tools like ePortfolios, blogs, wikis and interactive technologies such as games and simulations, as well as mLearning technologies. This paper also examines how eLearning and games-based eLearning technologies can be used to enrich the Information Systems (IS) learning experiences of students with different learning styles. The field of IS is a diverse and evolving area of study which draws upon a wide range of disciplines and skills. IS can be considered to be a wicked problem, characterized by incomplete, contradictory, and changing requirements, with solutions that are difficult to recognize. As a result, teaching IS presents many difficulties and challenges since students often have problems and difficulty in handling ambiguity and vagueness often characterized with IS problem situations. In addition, students often have considerable difficulty in analysing problems where there is no single, simple well-known correct solution. As a result of these difficulties, the authors have utilised eLearning technologies and concepts and more latterly games-based eLearning as a means of overcoming these types of difficulties in teaching IS to students in a postgraduate MSc Management of eBusiness course. This is an area that does not appear to have looked into in much detail elsewhere in the IS and education literature. The authors consider that computer games have highly desirable qualities and build on theories such as motivation, constructivism, situated learning and problem-based learning. In this paper, the authors describe the development of the eLearning and games-based eLearning applications as applied to the MSc students and highlight the contribution that such technologies can make to overcome the difficulties in teaching IS such as: • providing a challenging and complex real-world environment within which to apply their theoretical knowledge; • overcoming difficulties in dealing with ambiguity and vagueness; • developing and applying transferable analytical and problem-solving skills; • developing self confidence and increased motivation, and • allowing students time to reflect upon their practice and develop metacognitive strategies capable of adapting to new and evolving situations. The final section of paper identifies areas of further direction such as developing a less sophisticated virtual games environment that is easier to adapt and is less resource intensive and thus better able to meet the needs and financial constraints found in higher education.
Connolly, T. & Stansfield, M. (2006). Using Games-Based eLearning Technologiesin Overcoming Difficulties in Teaching Information Systems. Journal of Information Technology Education: Research, 5(1), 459-476. Informing Science Institute.
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