This journal is based upon my impressions and preliminary thoughts after reading the first three chapters of the book Teaching Naked (Bowen, 2012). This book is used as the main teaching text for the Vancouver Community College (VCC) online Course PIDP 3240 Media Enhanced Learning, in my case, led and facilitated by instructor, Brian Cassell of VCC. The statement that I reflected on for this first assignment is, "Games are ideal teachers, in part because they address different learning styles in sophisticated ways” (Bowen, 2012).
Objective. The above statement that games are ideal teachers could be generously described as very vague and ill-defined. Does an adult educator and teacher not address different learning styles in sophisticated ways for their diverse adult learners?
There is lack of consensus in the internet defining what an ideal teacher is, or even what a game is. The term ‘game’ is used to mean many different things; for example, game of chance, war game, fair game, head game, wild game, and board game and so on. Does the statement refer to a physical games such bowling or golf or is the statement implying that video games are the ideal teachers? For the purpose of this discussion I will consider games to include video games and online learning programs which could be considered like video games.
WebMD in a Video Game Addictions article states the following important point that also needs to be considered, “Compulsive video gaming is a modern-day psychological disorder that experts tell WebMD is becoming more and more popular.
Is it reasonable to suggest that games are the ideal teacher when it is possible that many purely recreational video games are not teaching learners what they need to know to thrive and grow in the real world? I don’t believe that many scholars would say that reactive adaptation is the same as critical thinking? The average American 21 year old will have played at least 10000 hours of games. (McGonigal, 2010, Prensky, 2010).
Does so much time spent playing mostly the same games over and over have any adverse effects? Bowen, (2012) states, “Our students, however, find requests not to text during these activities, (sic…concerts, lectures, movies, social activities…) strange, annoying and downright silly.” Do games, if they are to be called ideal teachers, not need to model ideal social values and behaviors, such as respect, compassion, consideration of others, responsibility, integrity, honesty, loyalty, and so on, like an ideal human educator should?
Reflective. Upon reflection I found that a number of statements in the first three chapters of Teaching Naked (Bowen, 2012) were annoying generalizations and not really considering some potentially destructive trends that may be happening in family structure and society (Taylor, 2013). There is no argument that some video games and teaching programs can efficiently help many game participants learn game or situation specific skills as they master the game or skill. This may include improved eye-hand coordination, intuition, logic and a number of other skills and abilities based upon the game design.
But, let’s reflect upon what is really happening. A game player is indeed learning something but it is by their own motivation, choices, interest, and determination combined with having the opportunity to discover and learn new things in their game learning environment. The game dynamic sets up a biofeedback loop, a reinforcement allowing the participant to quickly learn what is beneficial and what is not. It may be referencing very old studies, but B.F. Skinner in the 1930’s described the phenomenon of Operant Conditioning, where making a correct response was thought to stimulate the release of brain chemicals which elicited pleasure and reinforced the learned behavior (Mcleod, 2015).
Games and online lessons provide opportunities for learning according the objectives and strategies created by of the game or lesson designer. One could argue that games and lessons in and of themselves provide opportunities to learn but do not teach anything. When I look at a music sheet it does not teach me to play a new song. The delivery medium simply gives me information which I process and assimilate as I practice to learn the new song. Similarly, a video game just executes code written by the game programmers.
If video games are to be considered the ideal teacher then we should be prepared for a world where increasingly teachers will take a back seat in the game of teaching. We could in many instances leave teaching to automated teaching programs that can do a better job of interacting and adapting and even assessing the learning that is occurring.
Many administrators would agree that such education programs create an equal standard and can do a better job at many things including attendance, time assessment and grades record keeping. Many self-paced and self-directed courses or games are already available online in which the facilitation strategies and goals set by the adult educators and programmers are built into the programming and online delivery.
Of course online courses are very desirable and will continue to be a major growth industry. Why wouldn’t they be? They offer significant improvements in accessibility, convenience, profitability for the teaching institution and even cost savings for the learners. The bigger question remains in how to achieve the best learning outcomes overall, not just focusing on the cheapest and most efficient information delivery system.
Interpretive. Upon reflection, my interpretation is that Bowen does indeed make some generalizations that I don’t agree with, and perhaps skip some relevant social factors but so what! It is too early for me to form an impression of the book which may address my concerns in later chapters. I am here to learn and Bowen is very passionate about media enhanced learning and is emphatically making the point that there is a rapid cultural change affecting learners. I get the point that the traditional ways of teaching are generally not effective at engaging the modern learner. To be effective adult educators we must understand the characteristics of the adult learners and have a good level of working knowledge and awareness of the innovative media and technological tools and opportunities that we can use to engage the new socially connected learning community and individuals.
I have often seen the frustration that has gone along with the rapid pace of technological change. Operating systems change, software goes out of date, computers freeze, laptops can’t synchronize with media projectors and educators can look like fumbling buffoons if they aren’t prepared and can’t keep things on track in the classroom.
Not long ago, PowerPoint was considered such a marvelous innovative tool for presenting slides and information and now it is often nick-named as the death by PowerPoint teaching platform. Social Media currently has its own problems with too many players in the social media space all doing similar versions of the same task in a slightly different way.
My overall interpretation is that many of the technological changes that we are immersed in are here to stay. Some players will dominate the market over time. In the meantime, those adult learners that I wish to assist have been significantly influenced by the technological changes and I need to have a deep understanding of the changes that are taking place in the learners and the technology, and what additional knowledge and tools will best prepare me to be an effective adult educator.
Decisional. Thinking about the first three chapters has influenced me to make it a higher priority to make sure that the information that I use for teaching is relevant and engaging. I am more motivated to look for new ways to leverage technology and promote increased active learning in the classroom and online. I also plan to incorporate more social media participation, team-learning opportunities, and discussion and reflection activities when I am facilitating learning sessions for adult learners. Lastly, I am more open to the concept of being more available online for adult learners who want more information or discussion.
McLeod, S. (2015). Skinner-operant conditioning. Retrieved from:
Rauh, S. (2016). WebMD Video game addictions. Retrieved from:
Taylor, J. (2013). Is technology creating a family divide? Retrieved from:
Video Game addiction, (2016). Retrieved from: http://www.video-game-addiction.org/