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The Multiplayer Classroom: Designing Coursework as a Game Paperback – Jun 9 2011
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1. Structure and Process of Supervision. 2. Supervision Models: Psychotherapy-based Non-Psychotherapy-based. 3. Effective Supervision. 4. Supervisor. Gender and Perceived Stereotypes. Theoretical Orientation, Interaction and Learning Styles. BTI Types. Negative-Harmful Supervision. 5. Supervisee. Attachment Style. Self-presentation and Self-disclosure. Interaction and Learning Styles. Theoretical Orientation. Gender & Perceived Stereotypes. 6. Assessment of the Trainee. Knowledge and Skills. Personal Dynamics. Formal Assessment Tools. 7. Supervision Ethics. 8. Legal Aspects of Supervision in Psychotherapy. 9. Impacts of Culture and Diversity on the Supervisory Relationship and Process.
About the Author
Lee Sheldon is Associate Professor and Co-Director of the Games and Simulation Arts and Sciences program at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. He has written and designed more than two dozen commercial and applied video games and MMOs. His most recent book from Course Technology PTR is The Multiplayer Classroom: Designing Coursework as a Game. Lee began his academic career at Indiana University, where he instituted the practice of designing classes as multiplayer games, and wrote and designed the alternate reality games in the Skeleton Chase series. Most recently, Lee was lead writer/designer on three games based on Agatha Christie novels, lead writer on Star Trek: Infinite Space, and lead writer on Zynga's Facebook game Indiana Jones Adventure World and an upcoming Kinect game for Harmonix. He is head of the team that is building the Emergent Reality Lab at Rensselaer, a mixed reality space for research and education; lead writer and design consultant on a game teaching math; and lead writer/designer of games teaching Chinese and business ethics. Before his career in video games, Lee wrote and produced over 200 popular television shows, including Star Trek: The Next Generation and Charlie's Angels.
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More about use of games in college and university
So not what I was looking for
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Having placed my order for a copy, I scoured TED for relevant talks (and found several), and began some cursory plans for my classroom.
When the book arrived, I put all planning on hold and read it. It proved to be a quick read, in part, no doubt, because the author had been/is a writer (for TV shows, notably Star Trek: The Next Generation; and for some of the best computer games out there). He knew how to keep the info engaging. One small example: Instead of chapters, the book has levels.
The Multiplayer Classroom offers a sturdy skeleton for a rethinking of your classroom content delivery. It shares the youthful history of using a gaming overlay in education step by step, as it evolved, and unashamedly allows for the criticisms of such restructuring to be voiced as well as the praises. (The latter easily overshadow the former.) The book explains the mechanisms games use to engage and entertain the player, and suggests how to use those same mechanisms to facilitate learning. And, it shares concrete examples from real-life applications.
Now, I will tell you straight up: There is content in this book that feels like filler. There are several tentative case-studies, reports of initial experiments that teachers at various levels in various disciplines have attempted. Not all of these have solid, decisive conclusions to share.
But why would we expect otherwise? We are talking about a true paradigm shift here: An entirely new way to cast--and consider--the content in your classroom. Very few educators have even heard about this possibility. Even fewer have tried implementing it.
I used to tell students when they entered my classroom for the first time that they had a clean slate. The implication? An "A+" was there, waiting for them to maintain. Now, I plan to go into this coming school year with the opening line Lee used: "Good morning. Welcome. Everyone in this class is going to receive an F." To be followed, after a pause, with, "Unless...."
More importantly, I am now working to intertwine my content (in my case middle school English) with a compelling story line, with surprises and rewards for the player (ie, students) along the way.
And I'm changing the terminology that will be used in the classroom. Why "write a free-choice paper" when you can "adventure"? Why "do a project" when you can "go on a quest"? And who'd prefer to "take a quiz" when they might "be inspected by an official from another province" or "take a test" when they might "tame a beast"? Words are amazingly powerful, and the connotations that certain terms bring can instantaneously engage or disconnect a reader/listener. In my class, students will unlock achievements, discover treasures, and battle illiteracy....
There is no change in content. My curriculum maps are still my guide. State-mandated standards are intact. What's changing? My delivery. The way I FRAME the content.
That's what this book is all about. It's cutting edge, and largely untested. But it's based in logic, in common sense. Its premise, in a nutshell: Using, in a classroom, those strategies which make games compelling...will make the classroom experience more compelling.
I'm creating my plans for the coming school year with both a confidence and an excitement I have not felt in years.
The book is laid out in a well-structured format, and I immediately liked his first-person writing style. Books written for people anywhere near academe are often dry and lifeless. Not so, here. You'll feel like Sheldon is actually talking with you or even writing you a personal letter.
Know this is not a book about VIDEO games ... it's about classroom games, so you need no video game experience to do this. In fact, Sheldon clearly states in the opening paragraphs that "if teachers have never played a video game in their lives, they can create a course as a multiplayer classroom." Given that most of today's young learners are well-versed in multi-player games online, what a great way to capture their attention and get them learning in real classrooms.
I would describe this book as a sneak peak into Sheldon's own class or into his very-open diary on how to do classroom multiplayer games. You might even picture yourself as a mouse in the corner of his class, only with the benefit of opposable thumbs so you can write notes in the margins as you go.
For those who want to see quotes and references to Piaget and a host of other education experts and how this all factors into their theories, Sheldon doesn't' disappoint ... he simply does it in an engaging way. In the end, you'll learn a way to tap your students' creativity and keep THEM engaged in whatever topic you're teaching.
With a masters in education (and wrapping up Ph.D. in it, too), I've read a lot of studies lately on how games enhance student learning. Sheldon's book is a winner for showing you step-by-step how to succeed in this growing arena of multiplayer classroom learning. Highly recommended. Five stars all the way.
Unfortunately, the book was not the user-friendly manual it claimed to be. The methods described are highly complex, and would take longer than the school year to successfully set up and implement. Much, much more useful would be smaller more bite-size strategies that could be incorporated into lesson plans, ideas for classroom rules and policies that fit the multiplayer model, and user-friendly "interface."
Overall, the book was just not useful, though the idea behind it is. I hope to see more on this topic in the future.
It's a book worth reading, the theory is sound, the material compelling, and the case studies engaging. It just wasn't what I was looking for.