How Video Games Are Being Used to Enhance Learning
Gaming often gets a bad rap in the media with much written about the negative effects of this popular pastime. Concerns revolve around children’s exposure to excessive violence, and the potential for addiction and social withdrawal.
While these concerns are real, the important educational benefits of gaming don’t receive as much attention. Many parents are unaware that teachers are using video games in innovative ways in the classroom to enhance learning.
It’s Not all Fun and Games
Chris Aviles, a teacher who advocates for video games in education, advises that gaming in the classroom is very different from the way students play at home.
Students are never ‘playing’ games in my class. They are learning or showing what they’ve learned using a game. The activity has clearly defined learning objectives, goals, and outcomes students are expected to achieve.
Game-based learning (GBL) involves using video games to teach concepts and assess skills and knowledge. The options run from simple browser-based quizzes to sophisticated video games such as Minecraft, and Cities: Skyline.
These games are much more complex, immersing students in the action and giving them chances to interact. When used in the right way, many of the popular ‘blockbuster’ games are excellent teaching tools.
In the Classroom
The great thing about gaming is that it can be used in every subject to promote learning. In English, video games teach students about character and plot. When they inhabit a character, students learn about the strengths and weaknesses of that fictional being and how these traits contribute to the outcome. In more complex games characters will change over time, encouraging students to think about narrative arcs and character development.
Gaming allows students to consider philosophical ideas. Many involve competition that doesn’t pit players against one another but requires them to work together to solve problems. Quality games encourage creative thinking and help young people practice making decisions that have consequences.
In history, games like Civilization VI allow students to study the growth of empires and historical periods in a more visceral manner than a textbook, which is very appealing to the young. Minecraft brings scientific concepts alive in a way students understand.
More Benefits of Gaming
- Engagement. Gaming is ideal for reluctant learners. It provides great opportunities for enthusiastic gamers who might not be academically strong to take on the mantle of expert and teach others.
- Communication. Video games allow students to communicate with each other in different ways. This is particularly helpful for introverted students who are uncomfortable speaking up in class.
- Community. Multiplayer games require teamwork, collaboration and co-operation. These skills can be transferred to the real world, contributing to personal development.
- Problem solving. Gaming is all about choices, helping strengthen decision-making and critical thinking skills.
- Digital citizenship. Gaming in the classroom provides opportunities to discuss problematic features such as violence and graphic content. This equips students with skills to evaluate content more critically.
Gaming is an exciting learning tool with many applications in the classroom.