Since the beginning of education as we know it today, teachers have had to deal with the constant struggle of motivating students to learn. In this Era of Technology, teachers in traditional classrooms have even a more difficult challenge having to compete not only with sports and other extra-curricular activities but also with the video games, handheld media players and games, and computers and the Internet. One solution to these challenges is to find creative and effective ways to integrate this competitive technology into classroom lesson plans. Many teachers have turned to the integration of video games to enhance the educational experience for students; the difficulty is identifying the appropriate games to both provide motivation and educational content to the students. One such game is Secret Weapons of Normandy; a World War II inspired video game.
Video games have the potential to enhance education by both motivating students as well as presenting educational content in various formats. For a video game to be appropriately designed for education it should provide immediate rewards or punishments utilizing the behaviorist approach of learning; these immediate rewards may vary from completing missions, earning points, or advancing to the next level, while punishments could include losing power, losing lives, or restarting a mission. In Secret Weapons of Normandy immediate rewards include shooting down enemy fighting planes, completing missions, and receiving verbal praise from your squad leader. The immediate punishments include damage to your plane, crashing your plane, or failing a mission. This behaviorist approach provides motivation to the gamer by providing a sense of immediate accomplishment, as well as immediate feedback to help the gamer develop the necessary moves and correct decisions to be successful in the game.
Appropriately designed video games should also provide interaction, allowing students a hands-on experience that they may not be able to receive through text books or other traditional methods. It is important for a game to have a well developed storyline to keep students motivated by bringing a game to life. Secret Weapons of Normandy is not like other fighter jet games I have played, it provides great historical content in a very entertaining format. The game is spliced with actual video footage of World War II providing the gamer with a greater knowledge and understanding of WW II history. To help the gamer gain even a greater sense of importance of the messages provided by the game, each mission begins by reading a letter from the personal journal of a military pilot active in the battles of WW II. These unique presentations of educational content can be invaluable for those students learning about WW II.
The most important attribute of video games is the fun and exciting methods of developing problem-solving skills to be successful in a game. Almost all video games require a level of critical thinking and problem-solving skills to conquer a game. This cognitivist approach to learning is necessary in Secret Weapons of Normandy to be successful. The gamer must prioritize their moves, endure aerial dogfights, and work with rest of their squad (controlled by the computer) to complete missions.
Although Secret Weapons of Normandy lacks the same constructivist approach that other games may posses like the Zoo Tycoon series, gamers have the opportunity to select their own planes and upgrades. Unlike other games which provide similar choices simply for variations, the choices one makes in their plane and upgrades is critical to the success of each mission, providing a bit of constructivist learning. Plane design and weapon selection is another example of critical thinking, by having a complete understanding of the circumstances of each mission.
Ultimately, Secret Weapons of Normandy was designed to bring WW II to life for gamers. Secret Weapons of Normandy accomplishes this design by providing movie clips, character development, and missions that require critical analysis and problem solving skills, to help educate the gamer, thus making the gamer feel like a part of the game. This game has good graphics, an excellent storyline, and creative design, making it an ideal video game to enhance the teaching of WW II history.