Academic journal article Issues in Informing Science & Information Technology

Using Digital Video Games in Service Learning Projects

Academic journal article Issues in Informing Science & Information Technology

Using Digital Video Games in Service Learning Projects

Article excerpt


Service learning projects have been used in academic courses for some time. Ideas for service learning projects often seem to be straight forward such as cleaning the streets, visiting the elderly, teaching children how to read or similar projects that deem to provide service to an individual or to a community. The ideas for service learning projects have been increasingly integrated into technology courses as well. Some of these ideas include teaching elderly about computer literacy, donating computers to non-profit organizations or creating web sites to community-based agencies.

The emphasis of "service learning projects" may vary from one project to another. However, the main purpose has most often been to provide learning opportunities for the students while at the same time offer services for organizations or individuals alike. Sheffield (2005) explained about the general purpose of service learning:

"Service-learning provides the opportunity to apply classroom-developed knowledge and skills to a community problem thereby increasing the depth and understanding of knowledge and skill while solving a community problem through interaction with diverse community stakeholders (p. 1)".

Technology educators often may have difficulty when selecting a service learning project for their courses and may have to be creative when selecting a project scope. This paper identifies how a TST faculty member designed a creative idea when choosing a service learning project for his technology training class.

The remainder of the paper is divided into four sections: First, a theoretical background is given about service learning in general. The second section include explanations about videos game system than was chosen for this project. The third section discusses the benefits of using video games for senior citizens. The fourth section elaborates on the experience of TST faculty on planning, selecting and implementing the service learning project being discussed here.

About Service Learning Projects

The term "Service Learning" has been used in different academic programs for a number of years. It was first introduced in 1967 to describe the educational philosophy of integrating classroom concepts with a related community service experience (Sanderson, 2003). Traditional service learning projects were limited to certain programs like education, English, and social science.

However, this expanded into other areas of academic education as different programs began to use this same learning tool. Furthermore, the context within which such projects are selected, managed and implemented has also widened. Thus discussing the definition and meaning of the term "service learning" may shed some light on the vast uses of "service learning projects" in academia.

Service Learning--Definition

In a simple terms, Sanderson and Vollmar (2000) defined service learning as "the integration of classroom concepts and related community service experience (p. 222)". Ferguson and Liu (2006) noted that in service learning projects, "students apply the knowledge and skills they have gained in the classroom to the real-world problems of community-based (p. 127)". Other definitions described service learning projects more elaborately and discussed the term from different perspectives. The Community Campus Partnership for Health (CCPH) for example connected service learning with preparation and reflection as illustrated in their definition listed below:

   Service-learning is a structured learning experience that combines
   community service with preparation and reflection. Students engaged
   in service-learning provide community service in response to
   community-identified concerns and learn about the context in which
   service is provided, the connection between their service and their
   academic coursework, and their roles as citizens. … 
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