Wednesday, September 22, 2010

What May Be "The Best College Class Ever"

The University of Florida has a very controversial class on its campus at the moment. The students play StarCraft, a popular computer game, for course credit. The class' instructor, Poling, says that the video game helps develop students' "on-the-go decision making skills, resource management skills, and penchant to analyze ever-changing scenarios." Students will not only have to play the game themselves, they also go through other classmates' plays anid determine which decisions were intelligent and which skills need to be developed more thoroughly. Poling's class also requires group work and written assignments.
Advocates of technology-based education are hoping that Poling's class will change the perceptions of these types of classes. If his class has the correct ratio of academic challenge to gaming, technology-based classes could become more accepted in the academic community.
While I understand that this class is more than just playing a computer game, I have a little trouble viewing it as a "real" college course. I do not see how a class where one plays a computer game and assesses others' gameplay can be on par with history classes or calculus. I think that bringing more technology into classes is almost always a good thing, but I do not think that going as far as centering a course around a computer game is where our technological advancements should be headed.

2 comments:

medwards said...

I can see why the professor and other advocates would find this class worthwhile. It does seem that students would have to use critical thinking, decision making skills, and resource management skills, all of which are good things to teach students. However, I agree that the class falls short of the high standards we expect from universities. Perhaps the course would be more appropriate if there was a research component to it, such as investigating why some people excel at such games while others do not , or how consistent practice of such games affects other areas of one's intelligence.

eschmidt said...

Though I understand the many negative that this type of class could present. I feel as though we must consider the different learning styles of students. Many people have extreme difficulty and disinterest in school because they cannot focus on lectures and do not concentrate while writing papers or doing other homework assignments.
These very students could likely be going home after school and playing video games instead of doing homework. If this is the case, then are they actually getting anything out of the classroom anyways?
I think that this course could be a really interesting elective that students could take. If they're not learning skills in the typical classroom, then school is actually a disservice to them. This video game class alternative could provide these students a chance to prove that they are fully equipped with the skills need to succeed in today's workforce.
Essentially, this class could provide a students a very meaningful and beneficial opportunity to succeed.