Rich VivianoADE 620Article Critique The article I selected for review is titled Using Edutainment Software to Enhance OnlineLearning written by Mary Green and Mary Nell McNeese from the University of SouthernMississippi. I was intrigued by the title because I am a part of a distance learning program here atBuffalo State, so anything relevant to online learning and education could be helpful in myjourney through not only this program but in my future career endeavors. The title also offeredsomething new, a term that I was not familiar with; “Edutainment.” An obvious combination ofeducation and entertainment, this caught my attention as a good article title should. I began by reading the abstract introduction which I hoped would set the foundation andinclude a brief explanation of the reasons for writing this piece. What I first notice was adiscrepancy between the title and the introduction. In the title the authors set the stage for theintended audience to be online students, online instructors, or both. However, in the briefintroduction the online learner is never mentioned. I assumed that because of the title all of thecontent in the article would be only relevant to the online audience. This was not the case. Alsolacking in the introduction is a definition of what the term “edutainment” means and how thisdirectly ties in with online learning. After reading the article in its entirety, I first attempted to establish a target audience ofthe authors. It would seem the authors were trying to raise awareness for the type of learner thatinstructors and administrators may encounter with regards to current and future college students.It is clear in the conclusion that the authors seem to be trying to at least raise the awareness toeducators that unless they accept the fact that interaction with this learner profile is inevitable,they may struggle to keep interest of particular students. This is evident in the statement
“Educators can ignore the trend or they can harness the great learning potential of digital games,allowing students to learn by exploring virtual worlds, collaborating with each other, and solvingproblems without realizing they are learning” (Green & McNesse, 2007, p.14). This statementalso provides better evidence that the authors are trying to really make a strong point topolicymaker, educators and administrators that educational evolution is necessary for success.Because the title references online learning, one can assume the audience would be highereducation instructors, however the trends of learning with the use of education software andcomputer programs transcends all learning ages, not only online learners. I feel the authors couldhave better stated their intended audience. This would have helped me and other readersunderstand their intentions and why the argument for the need for educational gaming isnecessary and relevant. Despite the disconnect early on between the title of the article and the content, the authorsmain point seems clear. It would appear that the authors are attempting to convey the message toinstructors or school administrators that the newer generation, or the current college agegeneration (by my estimation ages 17-25, however this is never made clear in the article) are partof an evolving learning community that was raised in an environment where gaming was a largepart of the learning experience. I can attest to this being fact, I am twenty-eight years old andsince I can remember gaming systems like Atari, Nintendo and Playstation consumed much ofmy youth. This learning occurred in school as well with the use of early computer games such asNumber Munchers, Oregon Trail and Where in the World is Carmen San Diego. I can relate towhat the authors are saying in that software based games are a large part of the learningexperience of the generation X and Y (or “Mellennials”), and that it is important for educators tobe aware of the learning behavior associated with this type of stimulated learner.
The authors begin the main focus of the article by defining the sections in which theystate the arguments for and against digital game use in education settings. They begin with asimple structure, blatantly pointing out the first and second arguments against the use of gamingin educational settings by included reasons of culture, affordability, using technology for a “justbecause” reason and the safety issues surrounding gaming and young children. The conclusionand the introduction in the article would make one think that the authors are in favor of educationgaming, however stating strong arguments against the use of this type of software andtechnology contradicts what appears to be their intention. They use one argument stating that“Educators, business executives, and the general public are concerned that technology issweeping through education without their input on shaping or restraining it. There isapprehension that control is in the hands of those who stand to profit most from it (Green &McNeese, 2007, p.7). They also mention challenges in using education software in the classroomby stating “Another challenge to the teacher is that games can be housed on the hard drive of thecomputer or online where students can play when they should be doing other classwork. This canbecome an added discipline problem for the teacher. In a multi-user setting, teachers need to actas monitors, because discipline issues such as inappropriate use of language or sexual harassmentthat teachers have in the classroom will also occur in a virtual environment” (Green & McNeese,2007, p.9). This is an important statement because it is one of the few times in the article that themention of an online setting is mentioned. More of the conversation with regards to the for andagainst argument for education gaming is in reference to the classroom environment, not theonline setting. This is further evidence that the authors used a title which referenced materialrelated to online learning, but the content of the article reflected more of a focus on tradition,face to face classroom.
The authors continue the content of the article by providing examples of how educationgaming or “Edutainment” would benefit a certain generational learner. The differences betweenthe author’s arguments for educational gaming and against are evident in the structure of the text.The authors clearing define the arguments against, while the arguments for are imbedded in thetext, never being obvious to the reader. The arguments against are clearly define by languagesuch as, “the first argument against” and “the second argument against.” However, the in-favorarguments are not easily discovered and are overshadowed by other arguments against the use ofeducation gaming. They speak of a learners having fun and being motivated which enhances thelearning experiences thus providing a better environment for learning. They state “Whenstudents are motivated, they spend more time on the activity, and learning becomes an incidentalpart of the activity. It would seem that the longer one spends on an activity, the more they willlearn” (Green & McNeese, 2007, p.9). This is a logical argument in favor, but it is quicklycontradicted by a statement about technology that is not only detrimental to the argument of thebenefit of educational gaming, but also in my personal opinion not factual and strongly based inopinion; “Technology, although motivating, often diminishes the need to review priorknowledge, to strategize, to analyze, to make new connections, or engage in other high levellearning activities” (Green & McNeese, 2007, p.9). If the intention of the authors was to argue infavor of using educational gaming, this statement written in their own words, stronglycontradicts that sentiment. The statement not only attacks the use of edutainment, but also theuse of technology as a learning tool. If there true intent is of indifference to educational gaming,then the above statement is not a logical argument and does not speak to empirical evidence oneither side of the argument. I feel a statement such as this discredits the authors in many ways.Designing, engineering, and using technology in several dimensions calls upon proior knowledge
and experiences to enhance learning. Much of technology using a building block format, whereone piece is learned then another and so on in order to use and master the skill. Prior knowledgeis essential to furthering the understanding and use of technology. The most informative section of the article and perhaps the most logically constructed isthe section highlighting the cognitive effects of digital game playing. This section speaks moreabout the characteristics of a gaming learner. The authors take the time to use evidence and theability of generation Y learners to multitask and understand complex and fast paced learningchallenges. “Game players are required to figure out the game rules through trial and error,observation and hypothesis testing, which are skills necessary in mathematics and the sciences.As a result, game players are not afraid to make mistakes and they have a strong orientationtoward problem solving” (Green & McNeese, 2007, p.10). Green and McNeese also point outhow the use of interactive educational gaming can enhance teamwork and communication skillsand can also excel on different learning levels. “Students are now more connected synchronicallyand asynchronically, providing them with instant access to information through experts, friendsand families and offering interactivity with fellow students, friends and strangers in multi-usergames. As a result of this interactivity, players tend to develop and participate within a networkof players who share ideas, experiences and strategies. They learn to work well together or playalone when a partner is not available” (Green & McNeese, 2007, p.10). I noticed much of thecognitive learning section of the article could have also been used as supporting arguments forthe benefit of using education gaming. However that did not seem to be the goal of the authors. The article concludes with a section that outlined some current issues surrounding digitalgaming and how the development of academic based games on the rise. The authors give someinformation about specific gaming conferences and universities departments that focus on the
development and study of academic gaming. This information is beneficial for instructors thatseek to use education software as part of the learning environment. After reading the article in full a few times over, I really cannot say Green and McNeesedid an excellent job conveying the relationship between online learning and education gaming asthe title would suggest. The arguments against educational gaming were for the most part clearand well structured, but the arguments for education gaming were scattered, loosely constructedand largely hidden. In so far as the actual construct of the language and content; I would give theopinion that for a scholarly article, the authors’ own language was unpolished, basic, and evenelementary at times. The content of the article was heavily weighted with quotations andexcerpts from sources which showed the authors may not have command of the overall messagethey were trying to convey; which was also confusing at times. Sources should be used tosupplement a thought or opinion, and should not be as the majority of content of a written work;doing this can give the appearance of lack of original knowledge about the subject matter. Theaudience was never clearly defined, and much of the context made reference to a traditionalclassroom and little was mentioned about the online learning environment, which again onewould have expected from the title of the article. Overall, there was some good content in the article and probably worth reading if onewas interested in the material. They made clear for the most part what effects gaming have on alearner, the skills gained by the “gaming generation,” and how educators should be aware of thepositive and negatives associated with such a stimulated learner. The authors could have done abetter job in organizing the arguments for and against digital education gaming. They also couldhave made clear whether or not they were in favor, against, or simply trying to raise awarenessabout the issue. They also could have made clearer the audience they were directing the
information to as well as the audience of learners they were referring to in the article. This couldhave been easily done by mentioning an age range or generation name such as X or Y. Much wasleft up the previous knowledge of the readers or assumptions made by the reader, neither ofwhich should be assumed by an author. Although there may have been organizational issues,heavy uses of quotes form other sources and sometimes murky direction, the basic notion that theevolution of learners in turn must involve the evolution of educators is a message that is relevantand can be used with any educational audience.Reference:Green, M., & McNeese, M. (2007). Using edutainment software to enhance online learning. International Journal on E-Learning, 6(1), 5-16.