Learning with Digital Games is a very good introductory book for a difficult subject. This is particularly important as a contribution because on one hand, the theories of game-based learning are still very much under debate, and on the other, games evolve so fast nowadays that any work on them runs a risk of becoming quickly obsolete. Dr. Whitton has to a large extent avoided both pitfalls, by concentrating on the important processes in games rather than too-fixed examples, and by stating clearly both her anchoring in constructivist learning theories as well as clearly presented the key alternatives.
Using game examples that can be found online for free, and assisting those with both solid theory and reminder-boxes that engage the reader, the author demonstrates where and how the use of games - both self-designed and commercial - can benefit student learning. She is keen not to overstep her bounds however, meaning there are very few overt generalizations based on finite data - something one way too often sees in game-based learning publications. And her thoughts on how to assess game-based education and its results are very clever.
This is not a heavily academic work, but rather a practical guide (as stated in its sub-title) well grounded in research. It is therefore easy to read and also easy to use, also for those who are game researchers themselves. The sole problem with the volume, in my opinion, is that it came out at an inconvenient time: The work could have profitted immensely by using material published at the same time or little after, especially in the parts discussing alternate reality games and learning that takes place in MMORPGs. Given that, excluding a couple of special points, it is not in the least incompatible with those, this problem is not very significant. Some more discussion on management games and their like, which share a particularly long history in higher education, would also have been useful for the argument and wider application, but not at all mandatory.
Learning with Digital Games is something that will be of value to teachers interested in using games as tools, even after the example games in it have become mostly obsolete. It is also a good volume to look at for those working with educational games that are non-digital, or are hybrids, because of the easy-to-approach theory sections which are just as relevant for larp or boardgame educators as they are for those using computers. It is light to read, easy to understand and to utilize, yet still paints a solid case, with a very solid theory frame behind it.
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