Recently I was asked a question of ‘Do you feel that games are an effective means of learning?’. My answer was this:
Coming from a gaming background, my answer may be biased! All studies show that games heighten motivation with students. However, many are still afraid that games will somehow induce violence and anger. The average age of a ‘gamer’ is 30-35 years old and the fastest growing market is 45-50 females. In 2010, only 5% of all games released were rating 17+. Games still have a stereotype against them.
I think until that stereotype goes away, games will have a hard time finding their way into classrooms. To clarify, for games I am talking about digital games, and not your traditional board game or activity. My opinion on either does not change. I feel that any type of game in the classroom is beneficial because of the motivation to not only participate but to also complete the given game or task.
Board games such as monopoly are a great way to introduce fun (if you make sure to keep it not too competitive) and money management into a classroom. The same can be said with digital learning games. There are a lot of games (whether on a handheld unit or a ‘leapfrog’ unit) that are fun for students and support learning. Bbusiness classes at universities can play a game that deals with stocks. It can be an online web-based game but all the students would learn about money, trading, and stocks.
Games definitely have a place in the classroom; it is just about finding the right game for the right course that targets the right students. If people can get past the stereotype of gaming being for ‘kids who like violence’ then there is a great chance to see more education games enter into the classroom!
Here is an excerpt from a paper I recently wrote:
Doing math homework is very tedious. Making a mistake can cost you a lot of time erasing or even startingover. Math on the computer with a mouse and keyboard is tough because some equations can be hard to draw with mouse, or numbers can take a while to type if you are new to using a keyboard. The Nintendo DS changes all of this. By being able to write your answer on the screen, you do not have to worry about making a mistake and losing time.
Students are able to have fun while doing their homework and be motivated to work on math outside of the classroom. When a math problem has a fun theme and bright colors, it no longer becomes tedious homework, but instead a fun adventure. You are much more likely to get a student to pick up a gaming system rather a piece of paper and a pencil. Also, if the gaming system is handheld, students can work on their math from the car or couch. It has also been shown that games have developed a reputation for being fun,engaging, and immersive, requiring deep thinking and complex problem solving (Squire, 2005).
Squire, K., 2003. Video games in education. International Journal of Intelligent Simulations and Gaming, 2, 1.
Squire, K., 2005. Changing the game: What happens when videogames enter the classroom?. Innovate, 1, 6.
Shaffer, D. W., Squire, K.D., Halverson, R., & Gee, J.P., 2005. Video games and the future of learning. Phi Delta Kappan, 87(2), 105-111.