I began the course with the need to clarify the major concepts of the study; questions about modeling, simulations, and games. So this post is me thinking aloud and clarifying my thoughts.
I skimmed through various texts and readings and this is what I'm getting:
1. Modeling and simulations are NOT synonymous. A model can be a real or modeled environment, cause-effect or time-space systems or expert behavior. These models are assumed to consist of 2 parts- a set of abstractions of time-space or cause-effect sequence, and a media representation of the abstractions. (Gibbons 2001 pp.511-515)
Gibbons 2001 (pp 511-512): "The central premise of model-centered instruction is that the most effective and efficient instruction take place through experiencing realia or models in the presence of a variety of instructional augmentations designed to facilitate learning from the experience." The emphasis for this type of instruction is on experience and problem-solving.
OK. Some examples/illustrations might clarify this.
Norbert Seel (2003) mentions 2 types: Reproduction and symbolic models. He mentions how modeling involves interactions between 3 types of systems:
1. internal conceptual systems of a model building person
2. representational systems that function both as externalizations of the internal conceptual system and as internalizations of external systems
3. external systems that are experienced in nature or that are artifacts that were constructed by humans.
OK, this is getting me just a tad closer to understanding the concept. Again, I need to come across some more examples other than static models like artifacts (globe, display exhibits in museums). I'm thinking information kiosks would also be examples of expert systems...
*To be continued after dinner.*
2. I think I'm more secure about the concept of simulations. I flipped through Alessi & Trollip and they have a chapter on that. I discovered that I have actually created 'How to do' simulations for my job! - procedural simulations on how to use Blackboard, PowerPoint, SU pilot blog and how to install SPSS14. It would be interesting to have a go at creating other types of simulations.
3. The concept of games. Tension arises as my brain struggles to come to terms with the new association with the concept. Shaffer (2006) mentions how fun is NOT the defining characteristic of a game (p.21) - I'd always thought of games as being fun. But Prensky emphasizes how games are fun and not boring throughout his book (p.106, 128). From Shaffer, I learned that the significance of digital games is its power to produce deep and authentic learning - it is "a bridge from learning in the world that matters to learning in games that matter" (p. 29).
That is for me probably the most important lesson this week.
More about microworlds, VR later...