Gaming - Tech Learning

Gaming

Digital learning has come a long way since the “Oregon Trail” boom of the late 80s.
Author:
Publish date:

Digital Games and Learning: A World of Opportunities

Digital learning has come a long way since the “Oregon Trail” boom of the late 80s. Or has it?

Image placeholder title

Despite mounting evidence proving the value of gamification, it is not uncommon to hear parents and teachers bemoaning students’ extensive screen time. In fact, according to a recent survey by Common Sense Media, most adults today perceive digital games as distractions.

James Paul Gee, a landmark thinker on video games and learning, describes these misconceptions as the problem of content. The problem of content refers to the commonly held belief that games are a waste of time because students don’t learn new academic content while playing them. However, Gee argues that learning requires the exact kind of “doing” that games provide.

Current trends in gaming reflect what we’ve known in the field of cognitive science for decades:

■ Challenges are getting harder and more complex. (e.g., DragonBox teaches elementary-age kids to do linear algebra.)
■ Opportunities to work in teams are becoming more prevalent. (e.g., World of Warcraft requires players to collaborate in guilds.)
■ Goals are becoming less linear. (e.g., Minecraft can go down many different paths depending on the desires of the player.)

Well-designed games can be used to promote and hone learning. However, this doesn’t mean that every single iPad app or video game helps student achieve meaningful learning outcomes. In fact, a recent article by the Center for American Progress concludes that most iPad apps and other mobile games focus on the mere acquisition of skills and knowledge.

Games that are worthy of kids’ screen time should require kids to transfer their learning to different contexts and situations. This ensures that they’ll develop competencies that they can use well beyond the simulated constructs of the game.

So, in a world of countless digital games and apps, how do educators know what to choose? Research by BrightBytes and Zynga recommends focusing on three requirements within the game: simulations, social elements, and feedback. See the chart (excerpted from research by BrightBytes and Zynga’s Co-Lab) below:

Educators and school leaders have an enormous opportunity AND responsibility to enhance learning by selecting games that encourage students to tackle complex problems. So go ahead, play a little!

Kristen Swanson is the author of Professional Learning in theDigital Age and founder of EdCamp.

Featured

Related

Game Plan

When you consider it was only 10 or so years ago that some experts were questioning the appropriateness of multimedia and other "frills" as learning tools, it's not surprising that the idea of using games as a core instructional resource remains controversial. But in an age in which major corporations and the U.S.

Image placeholder title

From A to V

Audio-visual technology—or the use of sound and pictures to convey information—has come a long way in a short time.

The Games Children Play

If you think that playtime is waste time…think again! Kids (and adults too) need to relax their brains to process, reflect and make the most of a learning experience. Interactive computer games provide those brief vacation moments, enabling children to sort out and absorb what they've learned. Cybergames can

The Educational Benefits of Video Games

from Educators' eZine --> The average household with a child has two televisions, three tape players, three radios, two VCRs, two CD players, one video game player, and at least one computer. On a regular basis 60% of

Florida district expands math games

Hillsborough County Public School (HCPS) has expanded its use of DimensionU to include all middle school intensive math classrooms across the County’s 56 middle schools and alternative learning centers.tive learning centers. 

Eco-kids Games and Puzzles

Eco-kids Games and Puzzles This section of the official web site for the city of Ft. Worth, Texas, offers kids a fun way to review vocabulary and concepts learned about the environment. Interactive games and puzzles allow you to help Sally choose recyclable items from her garbage, join Savannah for an