Posts Tagged 'games'

Video Games in the Classroom: What the Research Says

nick blog picBy Nick Rocha – When I was in elementary school, we had a computer game that we played a few times during school that helped to explain addition and subtraction. Today the use of video games for educational learning has increased dramatically and extensively within many educational institutions. According to a study conducted by the Joan Ganz Cooney Center, nearly three quarters (74%) of K-8 teachers report using digital games for instruction. In addition, 88 percent of the nation’s children ages 8 to 18 play video games (Gentile, 2009). Many teachers and educators utilize video games for a variety of learning objectives and measures, but how might the use of video games impact the overall development of the child?

First, I would like to make the distinction between e-learning and video game environments. E-learning consists of online courses that are offered at educational institutions that attempt to mimic similar classroom curriculum and instruction. Video games, on the other hand, take on a more interactive and stimulating approach to online learning. “While completion rates for online courses barely reach 50%, gamers spend hundreds of hours mastering games, writing lengthy texts, and even setting up their own virtual “universities” to teach others to play games (Squire, 2005). E-learning has a reputation for being dull and ineffective whereas games have a reputation for being engaging, fun, and immersive (Gee, 2003). The use of video games in the online classroom may provide advanced learning opportunities that e-learning may fail to provide.

One of the major reasons that video game learning is so popular is because the games are relatively inexpensive to build and to distribute (Shapiro, 2015). A computer-based math game can be readily accessible from anywhere with a computer and the Internet; students are more familiar with these types of technology than they were two decades ago. Educators would need to take the digital divide into account before integrating a video game-based curriculum into the classroom since many students may not have access to a computer or the Internet to complete assignments.

Furthermore, some course subjects are more suited for video game learning environments. “Nearly three quarters (71%) of digital game-using teachers report that games have been effective in improving their students’ mathematics learning…only 42% report the same about their students’ science learning” (Takeuchi and Vaala, 2014, Joan Ganz Cooney Center). More research needs to be conducted to determine which academic subjects would benefit from video game-based pedagogy and how students could benefit or become hindered by this method.

Video game addiction has also been a major concern among psychology and education communities. A study conducted by Gentile in 2009 found that 8.5% of U.S. youth are “addicted” to playing video games; children who show multiple signs of behavioral addiction often skimp out on homework, are irritable or restless when video game play time is reduced, and have trouble being attentive in school (George, 2009). The real question is whether providing video game pedagogy within the classroom provides a “gateway” into more addictive behaviors, or if using that pedagogy encourages students with video game “addiction” to engage within a learning environment. It is important to notice that in this study boys were 4 times as likely as girls to report behavioral addiction symptoms.

Using video games in the classroom can provide some beneficial learning opportunities that are engaging and fun, but educators should combine these new technologies with their instruction to reinforce educational objectives. An educator should take into account the digital divide, the gender ratio of their students, the complexity of the course material, and the learning/course objectives when deciding when to use video game-based materials. Additional research needs to be conducted to determine the overall impacts of video game pedagogy and childhood development, and teachers should weigh in the pros and cons before implementing a video game-based curriculum into their classrooms.

Game On! Using EdTech Games for Learning

By Steve Ryan — We all remember the childhood game that captured our attention for hours on end; we played with friends and family, have great memories of our interaction with these games. Maybe it was Monopoly, Clue, Sorry, or some other popular game? Each of these games taught us something about ourselves or an important skill. Monopoly teaches skills of budgeting money, property management, and gaining more. Clue enhances critical thinking skills, and detective analysis, whereas Sorry looks at numbers, chance, and luck (good and bad).

How come we don’t see more games within curricula and in classrooms with such skills being taught?

As more and more technology is integrated into classrooms, students should be exposed to educational games that assist in the learning process. Skills and knowledge are being taught through many games and engage students on an entirely new level. The engagement occurs due to the interactivity of many games that require the student to input information or make decisions quickly in order to continue to a new level or obtain an achievement. Additionally, games assist in problem solving because often in any game there is a problem that needs to be solved by the user, as discussed by forefront gaming researcher James Paul Gee. Problem solving, critical thinking, analysis, interpretation, and simulating real world are all excellent benefits to incorporating games within teaching and learning. Games are an excellent way to augment and enhance teaching on a topic or certain lesson because the game can instill a better sense of understanding within students.

A favorite gaming suite of mine when teaching American history and government is iCivics. This organization, spearheaded by former Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, offers unique gaming opportunities on a variety of topics within the branches of government and citizenship topics, as well. However, I would encourage teachers at all grade levels and content areas to go out and explore different sites to find games that are appropriate for your students and your curriculum.

Whether you use the game to introduce a topic, enhance a lesson, or reinforce a topic, games will show considerable gains with your students, and make learning a little more exciting for them as well!

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