With many teachers themselves being products of the digital or computer age, video games and other forms of hands-on technology have made their ways into classrooms in a great way – dishing out valuable core and supplemental knowledge to students.
Here are a few do’s and don’ts for using video games as a teaching tool.
Go Farther Than The Computer Room
Consider other subjects outside of the most common ones such as science, technology and math. A set of tablets or desktop computers would be an ordinary sight in a science or computer classroom, but would about an English or history class? Since these classes are the least expected realms for computers, their incorporation will likely have a very big impact on students. And though you may have trouble finding many mainstream games that focus on these subjects, there are many educational games out there that gladly support course with a high literature content.
Be consistent with its implementation and incorporate it regularly into lessons along with charted progression and measured results. According to the teaching with video games study conducted by the Joan Ganz Cooney Center, regular incorporation of video games plays a major role in student success. The report stated that“Teachers who use games more often report greater improvement in their students’ core and supplemental skills.” This makes sense considering that real progress and improvement is difficult to measure with sporadic or infrequent use. Therefore implementing video game play, regularly (on the weekly basis for instance) for a variety of content, both supplemental and core, is more likely to lead to improvements in student learning and attainment of concepts.
Get The Proper Training
One uncommon factor to take into account, that may contribute to low integration of video games in some classes, is simply the lack of proper training and education on behalf of the teacher.
Especially in cases where they are not very computer or technology savvy, not having the proper training and education can be a big hindrance the institution of technology in the classroom.
Video games that are introduced with the know-how of an experienced user, can provide the most in terms of student benefit and achievement. But experience isn’t everything. Teachers must also be educated specifically in terms of what video games have to offer and the skills that are best honed using them. Even the most experienced teacher/gamer at home may need training in order to learn how to properly translate game play into knowledge play.
Don’t isolate the use of video games but use them in collaboration with other teaching strategies as well as part of a functional, diversified curriculum.
Video games like other mediums work best as part of a team rather than all alone. You may not see the test results or improved comprehension you expect from a particular skill if you only promote it through video play. Though this goes hand in hand with a quality lesson plan, it is important to note that this sometimes happens with certain math skills or scientific concepts. The caution here is simply to not rely too heavily on video play for all aspects of learning and to use it as just one part of a well rounded teaching plan or agenda.
Don’t be discouraged by low support from parents or the school system. It’s no secret that everyone is not on board the video game train. Many people have overall bad perceptions of it or just don’t view it as an acceptable means of instruction. This can be seen in the lack of encouragement by parents for its use in the home or the lack of suitable technological resources and equipment by school districts. This issue alone can likely hinder an enthusiastic teacher from pursuing video game instruction or fail to motivate a teacher who is out of touch with technology. But don’t be discouraged. Despite these drawbacks, implementation can be accomplished even if on a small scale. Though you may have to use a desktop instead of a tablet if funding is low, regular shouts of positive results, will in time be enough to gain the support where it’s needed.
Video games are not only something familiar and user-friendly for many young people, but also a useful means of introducing new concepts and ideas by ending the monotony of a traditional lessons.
And though the implementation of video games does differ from teacher to teacher and district to district, it has been found as part of complete curriculum integration, used in structured lesson plans and units and for casual, supplemental instruction.
Even with parents and others voicing their concerns about the use of video games as an educational tool (such as overuse or addiction) the pros of video game teaching are substantial. Especially in the case of educational games which are the most popular for teachers. But this is also true for mainstream games such as those found in this website that students are accustomed to playing at home. Both forms will often promote problem solving and critical thinking, reasoning, community building, information-gathering and creativity.
Fred Donner is an educator by profession, writer/editor by practice, and gamer by heart. When not too busy tutoring young students, he writes for the blog Mmorpgguidereviews.net.