While the argument over modern games and their impact on society continues, it is clear that video games have the ability to teach a wide range of abilities, especially in education.
Much of this potential is tied to the immense versatility of video games themselves. Video games are one of the most flexible types of entertainment around, more so than movies, books, or music. To fit an ever-widening range of circumstances, they require users to acquire ever-widening skills and capabilities.
In a classroom, games allow students to learn at their own pace, without much social pressure. In a typical classroom, students are frequently pushed past essential concepts that the rest of the class immediately truly understands. An enthusiastic student may lose interest or cause problems for others by having to wait for others to catch up. Games can allow for each player to progress at their own pace, doing much to alleviate this issue. Students can also acquire ideas without the social pressure of performing in front of the class; instead, they can focus on understanding the concepts presented without being judged by their peers.
A video game’s whole design revolves around producing an engaging experience for the user. Game-based learning allows students to quickly apply or understand new concepts rather than just listening or reading.
For instance, The Republia Times is a free web game in which players are tasked with writing headlines for a newspaper; the catch is that, through the titles, they have to toe the line between sentiment and bias. The game requires students to write creatively, balance numerous agendas and allows for discussions on media and free speech. There’s also Cell Command, a web-based game where students control various organelles inside an animal cell. Through the game, students learn about cell functions and how each part interacts while actively participating in the learning process.
With Kahoot! you can create a game using a pre-made template, then play it solo or as a group. Students can also create games to test each other on content taught, which is a great method to retain information. Teachers can even assign games as homework; you can probably see how students might prefer playing a trivia game to filling out a piece of paper.
Fortnite, a popular battle-royal game, has a team mode that encourages students to work as a group, creating strategies and building their teamwork to beat other teams of players. In doing so, they’ll need to learn how to collaborate with others, communicate successfully, deal with failure, and learn from mistakes.
In general, most games ask players to use their brains to solve problems under a set of rules and limitations. Maybe that challenge is how to solve a puzzle, how to maximize the efficiency of a system, or how to out-maneuver another player; regardless, players are being asked to learn new skills and think about things in new ways.
Video games do tend to be a fairly divisive topic; some say they encourage young people to withdraw from the world and others, robbing them of important social skills. Others claim that playing video games offers a wide range of benefits, from improved hand-eye coordination to enhanced strategic thinking, and that through online games players build essential skills in cooperative problem solving and teamwork. That’s a bigger discussion, and because this is real life we’re talking about, they’re probably both right.
When used correctly though, video games offer a way to make kids excited about learning and engaged with the material, all in a way that allows for an experience tailored to suit their learning style. While you can have too much of a good thing, when used responsibly, today’s video games can be an incredible asset for building a variety of skills.
For more ideas on how to use video games in your classroom, check out this link.