Gaming in the classroom gets fist pumps of approval from students -- not surprisingly. Kids love games, and games can be familiar and user-friendly. But do educators also give games the thumbs-up?
This infographic from our sister site, OnlineSchools.com, explores how teachers can reach students through digital gaming. The research quoted here shows that games can get students involved, while offering personalized instruction. Certain teachers suggest that gaming also encourages skills like problem solving, communication, collaboration and negotiation.
It's not necessarily easy to introduce games in schools. In a Boston Globe article, specialists in the field admit that adoption of games in education faces some obstacles, such as restricted class times, limited access to computers, and training for teachers. Despite these challenges, the article offers support for gaming in schools. Gaming may be a way to teach not just hard skills -- like algebra or writing -- but also soft skills, such as strategic thinking and interpretive analysis.
If there are still skeptics out there, they can take a look at government research on educational games. For example, the infographic cites a 2010 study from the Canadian government, Video Games in the Classroom Building Skills in Literacy and Numeracy. The authors report that gaming can reinforce motivation because students are in control of their actions, actively manipulating objects, and involved in experiential learning.
Games can even lead to empowerment as well as knowledge. In 2011, iCivics.org reported that students who used the free iCivics games and lessons saw test scores improve by 20%, and 78% felt they had a better understanding of the material. In 2012, iCivics.org got some inspiring feedback from a teacher in a Chicago school where 95 percent of the students lived below the poverty line. After using the iCivics approach, this teacher said his students could define the three branches of government, explain how laws are made, and refer to amendments from the Bill of Rights while debating constitutionality.
This infographic from Online Schools has one more convincing argument on the side of games: A New York Times article reports that computer games can encourage the brain to produce dopamine and stimulate neural connections, enhancing the physical basis for learning. Game over: Looks like a win-win for both the games and the students.
Discover Babylon, Federation of American Scientists, http://www.fas.org/babylon/
Harnessing Gaming for the Classroom, The New York Times, January 2012, http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/30/world/europe/harnessing-gaming-for-the-classroom.html
iCivics Annual Report, 2011 and 2012, http://www.icivics.org/About
Immune Attack, Federation of American Scientists, http://www.fas.org/immuneattack/players-2/download
Learn to Play and Play to Learn: The Secret to Games That Teach, Boston Globe, February 2013, http://www.boston.com/business/innovation/state-of-play/2013/02/learn_to_play_and_play_to_lear.html
Technology in Education, Education Week, September 2011, http://www.edweek.org/ew/issues/technology-in-education/
Video Games in the Classroom Building Skills in Literacy and Numeracy, 2010, http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/literacynumeracy/inspire/research/WW_Video_Games.pdf
For a complete list of sources, please view the infographic.
Courtesy of: Online Schools