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Reflection: Gaming in the Classroom

Posted by Hope Scott on Wednesday, December 15, 2010 Under: digital graphics
There is skepticism in the educational community regarding the applicability of gaming to education. Games have been shown, in numerous studies and in homes across America, to both excite and motivate students. What impact does this have on the education community?
The education community seems to be asleep at the wheel when it comes to gaming. I do not think that teachers like the idea of allowing students to play "games" in class. Many of the old-school principals are not tech-savvy; their younger counter-parts are. One of our assistant principals, who is not a school principal, was very aware of the learning and engaging power of games in school. She spearheaded the use of Compass Learning Odyssey in the classroom, especially for extended day classes (http://compasslearningodyssey.com). The only downfall was follow-up by core teachers. The product was there, very few teachers used it to its full potential. We were also a Study Island campus; again, core teachers did not use this tool to help re-teach. I know the core teachers will protest this allegation stating that they barely have time to cover all the TEKS students need to master to pass TAKS. I am saying that educational games could be used as a means to that end.
As with any technology integration, the integration of games and simulations affects how curriculum is delivered in the classroom. How would you assist your co-workers unpack the potential of educational gaming?
First, educators need to be reminded that our student body is made up of kids (and their parents) who are digital learners. Everything in our households are digital, from the clock to the vacuum cleaner, to television, to you name it, it is digital. Our students know how to program phones and cameras. They can write programs for the computer. They create Web sites like MySpace and Facebook. They are immersed in technology. When they come to school they must dummy down! We need to tap into that potential that lies within our students. How can we do this? I am glad you asked. By allowing students to access the many educational games available to them. Since administrators like research-based facts, I would share these findings: "Research into games for educational purposes reveals some interesting trends. Early studies of consumer games helped to identify the aspects of games that make them especially engaging and appealing to players of various ages and of both genders: the feeling of working toward a goal; the possibility of attaining spectacular successes; the ability to problem-solve, collaborate with others, and socialize; an interesting story line; and other characteristics. These qualities are replicable, though they can be difficult to design well, and they can transfer to games featuring educational content. We are discovering that educational content can be embedded in games rather than tacked on, and that players readily engage with learning material when doing so will help them achieve personally meaningful goals. (Johnson, et.al., 2010)
What questions would you ask when evaluating an educational game prior to using it in the classroom?
The first thing a principal would ask is: "How will this impact my scores?"
Next, "What will students learn that can be applied to life outside this classroom?
"Will educational games teach students to interact with each other and the world outside the classroom?"
"How will the game(s) help students learn how to handle problems that need to be solved?"

Johnson, L., Smith, R., Levine, A., and Haywood, K., (2010). 2010 Horizon Report: K-12 Edition. Austin, Texas: The New Media Consortium. Retrieved from courseware December 12, 2010.

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About Me


Hope Scott I am a Web Technologies teacher. I created this blog as part of my Master of Education in Educational Technology Leadership for Lamar University, Beaumont, Texas.

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