This is the first of a series of articles on the use of games in education.
Why a series on edugames?
1. Gaming is ubiquitous.
2. Games combine effective pedagogy, high engagement, and assessment.
3. Games play a relatively small supplemental role in education today, but have the potential for rapid growth.
4. As we expand the role of games, we are also learning how to expand the use of other immersive learning activities such as problem based learning, computational thinking, and design engineering.
Games are everywhere
The Entertainment Software Association points out that two- thirds of all households in the US have at least one video gamer. 97 percent of kids ages 2-17 are already playing video games, with an average of over 11 hours a week. Video games are a $110B industry (while the US market of K-12 education systems and content is only $8B).
Can Games Really Teach?
Child development pioneer Jean Piaget noted that humans use play to understand social dynamics, exercise imagination and creativity, and experiment with materials and resources.
In his book, Making School a Game Worth Playing, Ryan Schaaf wrote:
- Video games provide constant stimulation for students to learn from using multiple forms of sensory input and output.
- Studies show game players get dopamine stimulation on triumphs; imagine students getting pleasure from being challenged and learning.
- Gamers are tuned in, turned on, and demonstrate an extremely high level of attention and focus.
What does the research say? This will be a topic of one of the upcoming articles.
How widespread is gaming in education today?
A recent survey from the Joan Ganz Cooney center found that over 60% of teachers use games in their classroom today. However, games are primarily used for supplemental activities and few teachers currently use games for core instruction.
Why? In most cases today, the use of games adds to teachers’ worktime: finding, evaluating, tracking student use, measuring student competency, integrating into curriculum, all of these take time and effort.
But this is starting to change. Quest Schools, run by the Institute of Play, are schools entirely based on games and play. Games4Ed is helping to facilitate the use of games while reducing teacher burden.
Teachers who do use games for core instruction find high levels of student engagement, extremely high levels of time on task, significant progress with both content learning objectives and 21st Century Skills such as persistence, problem solving, and creativity.
What other pedagogies have similar advantages to games?
Games are not the only immersive engaging pedagogy that develop higher level skills. Problem based learning, social learning, Design Thinking and Computational Thinking are also starting to take a central role in education.
We will be exploring some of these other learning activities as well, especially as we discuss incorporating games into lessons and curricula and using games for assessment.
What’s coming up?
The series will consist of the following articles:
- Why a series on games in education? (This article)
- How do schools find games?
- How do schools incorporate games into lessons and curricula?
- What does research say about games and learning?
- What are the technical issues you should know about games?
- How can games be used for student assessment?
Please provide feedback. Learning through play may be ageless, but deploying games as a learning activity in schools is relatively new. Let’s all learn together.
Mitch Weisburgh is co-founder and director at Games 4 Ed, a non-profit committed to studying and breaking down the barriers to ubiquitous gaming in the classroom.
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