USA Today’s recent Top 10 video games for kids this year notes some educational games and others with literary or pop culture connections. The Independent Florida Alligator (U of Fla) reports that More colleges using video games as educational tools. Even the military is using games as part of their training, and they may soon be completing that training on their cell phones.
It’s not surprising, then, that we see stories like these about teachers using gaming in the classroom:
So what’s going on in your classroom? Do you use games in the classroom? How do you respond when families ask for recommendations for educational games? Have any great resources to share?
I think that gaming is a unique and pervasive popular fad.
I believe that using them intermitantly throughout the year is okay, however I believe they get enough video game interaction on their own. What students desperately need to learn is how to communicate verbally and how to hold an intellectual discussion. I believe it is a great supplement, but by no means should take the place of face to face learning and discussion.
Absolutely agree "as a supplement". Kids/Students are inundated with gaming these days and it is what they know. Why not capitalize on that skill-set that they have and turn it into something educational. I'm all for the use of using gaming strategies to help reinforce knowledge gained within the classroom - and if the students have fun while doing so, I feel that they will be more open to use other classroom non-gaming group-work strategies as well.
Here is a series of articles (3 so far) on gamification in the classroom. Link is for article 3, but you can backtrack to the first and second:
I have worked in the video game industry for many years, started out on the pure entertainment side but am working on games now focused on helping teach financial literacy. We have a collection of mini games for children 5 and up called the Fun Vault www.TheFunVault.com that teach basic money concepts (making change, coin and bill recognition), and we have our free virtual world, Sand Dollar City (www.SandDollarCity.com) which puts players in control of their family candy shop in an underwater city. They have to open bank and credit accounts, purchase equipment, dive for ingredients, put together savings plans, and more.
The trick for something like Sand Dollar City is to try to weave the educational elements into fun gameplay, not always an easy task. We've had teachers have their students play in the classroom as well in some after-school programs. Some of the kids have kept playing at home!
I have mixed feelings about video games. Learning isn't always Grand Theft Auto -- sometimes it's hard work, and it's not fun, though there is a satisfaction to be had from working hard.
I use the sports comparison in my classroom when we have to do certain lessons. Professional NFL players do weightlifting as part of their job, and lifting weights is tedious and boring. NFL players also get to play a game they love, and get paid millions. In order to play well they have to do the grunt work --that's part of life. The harder they work lifting weights, the more enjoyable playing the game is.
I think converting education into a video game format is probably necessary, at this point. And to Meg Medonis, video games aren't always easy.
The trick would be in striking a balance between the "fun" part (cool factor) of the game and working the education into it. Make it gradually harder to advance in the levels, etc.
I would welcome a medium that made studying cool somehow. My kids could really use that.
I never liked video games very much myself, but video grabs their attention in a way real life does not. Also, we never really know what the future will be exactly, so how do we know being a good gamer won't be a vital skill set in the very near future? There's already a new generation of cutting edge military boats that use a gaming controller that the new generation of ship captains and pilots already know.
Food for thought.
-Father of Timmothy
Playing video games themselves without hooks, proper connection to the curriculum, and follow-ups seems frivolous, but using them as an additional tool to help make abtract concepts more appealing/visual (like natural selection) I found was fruitful.
Last year I worked on a project that brought gaming into the biology classroom via the use of smartphones. The project consisted of 4 games designed around the MA state standards, were accompanied by 5 sessions of professional development for me, and included curriculum that integrated the game into other parts of the 4 units. I could log on and track every student playing the games to observe their progress through the leves, see where they got stuc, and identify concepts they were having difficulty with.
The students really enjoyed them, and I saw marked improvement in their analytical skills, which were built into the accompanying curriculum for 2 of the games. I think as long as the games are well thought out, developed, and implemented. I would recommend using them, but only if the games met those qualifications.
Bridget Hilferty from ReadWriteThink.org shared the following post in another discussion on gaming---
We did a few sessions recently at the 2012 IRA Annual Conference:
Using Digital "Games in the Elementary Classroom: Part 1 (http://set4.info/IRA2012/RWT-Engaging-Learners-Video1/)
Using Digital "Games in the Elementary Classroom: Part 2 (http://set4.info/IRA2012/RWT-Engaging-Learners-Video2/)
Using Digital "Games in the Elementary Classroom: Part 3 (http://set4.info/IRA2012/RWT-Engaging-Learners-Video3/)
joe from EDSITEment NEH responded with this post:
We have some information about how teachers are using the NEH funded video games Misson US I & II
Here please find the 2011 evaluation of Mission US 1 by the Educational Development Center and a two page summary. EDC examined student learning in 50 middle schools across six states (California, Iowa, Utah, Arizona, New York, and Montana), comparing the performance of 1,118 seventh- and eighth-grade students in classrooms where teachers and students used Mission US and supplemental curriculum materials to comparison classrooms where the same teachers taught about the Revolutionary Era with their standard materials.
Among the findings:
 An independent samples t-test was used to compare the average number of items answered correctly at post for both groups. t (1116) = 4.43, p < .001, Cohen’s d = .27.
[i] Based on a chi-square analysis of six items dealing with these viewpoints.
[ii] Based on chi-square analysis of five items dealing with these elements of historical causality.