Why Gaming is Important in Academia: A Conversation with Professor Shabnam Kavousian, Ph.D., Lecturer and Mathematics Education Liaison, Department of Mathematics, Indiana University Bloomington

group gamingI recently sat down with Professor Kavousian to discuss the importance of gaming in academia.  Game Days were originally organized by CITL (Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning). However, for the past year Professor Kavousian has organized and hosted them in the Department of Mathematics. This event has a committed participation from faculty, and lecturers across disciplines from the IUB campus. Professor Kavousian states, “At an early age, I’ve always loved playing games as well as the study of mathematics. Instinctively, I knew there was a strong connection between games, gaming, game theory, and the field of math.” Throughout her education, she recognized the similarities and dynamics of strategically solving board games, and how she could teach students to apply similar strategies to mathematical equations. She said, “People think I’m weird when I play board games by myself, but it helps with analytical thinking and logic.”  Like David Letterman, I couldn’t resist spoofing his “Top 10” list.  Therefore, I present to you, “Professor Kavousian’s Top 10 Reasons Why Gaming is Important in Academia.”

1. Gaming allows faculty and instructors to sit and discuss pedagogical tools that are relevant and can be applied to diverse fields of study.

2. Games (board, cards, digital, and virtual worlds) help to solve real-life economic, social, and cultural situations.

3. Gaming creates more interesting ways to engage students in projects which incorporate mathematical logic and theory.

4. Gaming allows participants to introduce new and old games, thus revitalizing new ideas and perceptions with different exploratory outcomes.

5. Gaming can create a tight-knit community of faculty and instructors from across the IU campus. The participants have been from a variety of disciplines such as Mathematics, Media and Communication, Philosophy, Music, Apparel Design, and Informatics.

6. If used in classroom correctly, Gaming has a great potential to create a deep interest for learning and motivating students.

7. Generally, students find it hard to follow the rules of mathematics, but find it much easier to follow very complicated rules of the games.

8. Planning and hosting a Game Day brings together like-minded colleagues with similar interests.

9. Gaming creates a social and informal environment/space.

10. Where else can you find highly educated people who can play board games in the middle of the day?

Professor Kavousian hopes to develop a course that teaches teachers how to effectively incorporate games and gaming into the math curriculum. Finally, I asked Professor Kavousian, how can libraries support the growing field of games and gaming particularly on the IUB campus?  She responded that sometimes it’s hard to find theoretical games to use in class. Librarians can help locate those hard-to-find games, and grow its collection. I informed Professor Kavousian that the Wells Library host its annual Game Night prior to the start of the fall semester.  She was delighted to hear this, and is optimistic that the library will find a way to host more game nights throughout the year.

games night

Games for Educators Newsletter

Games for Educators targets primarily school teachers, home educators, and librarians.  It provides an informational framework for the types of gaming activities being instilled and learned at an early age.  These gaming techniques can help educators in higher education better prepare for the next generation of college students.  Of particular note:  click on Articles > For Librarians.

Mission:  The Games for Educators web site and newsletter are dedicated to supporting the use of games and toys in education. We want to help educators of all types fully engage the minds of children, and take advantage of all the benefits that play brings.

7 Things You Should Know About Games and Learning

The Games and Learning Group from the Educause Learning Initiative (ELI) just released an updated version of 7 Things You Should Know About Games and Learning. In addition to the ELI report, the NMC 2014 Horizon Report included “Games and Gamification” as an emerging technology that is “likely to have a large impact over the coming five years in education around the globe.”  Both are interesting reads.

Patrons can check out a variety of gaming formats from M&RS for 7 days.  Formats include: GameCube, PS, PSP, X-Box, X-Box 360, and Wii.

I will attempt to spotlight content related to gaming each month.  Content information can come from an article, blog, website, etc.

My spotlight for this month is Gamemoir, “a video game culture and lifestyle website dedicated to delivering entertaining, fresh, and through-provoking content to our readers…we write about the experiences, reflections, people we meet, and the games we love to play from the unique perspective of our diverse stable of contributors. We dig deeper into dissecting our favorite video games to give our readers a new perspective on topics they thought they knew.”  Enjoy!