After reading the Open’s University’s Innovating Pedagogy Report for 2013, I am most interested in the concept of gaming and learning. As a middle school educator I am well aware that gaming plays a major role in many of our students’ lives. I often hear students discussing how they devote dozens of hours per week playing the latest video games. They spend hundreds of dollars on new games and sometimes wait hours in line when games are released. Knowing what an impact gaming has on our students’ lives, we need to develop ways of integrating gaming and learning. We live in a media-rich world where everything is interconnected and surrounded by ever-changing technology. Educators need to learn to incorporate these media-rich technologies into daily teaching strategies in order to reach our modern students. Of course this is not an easy task! There is still on-going research and controversy surrounding gaming and education.
The amount of research and information available on gaming and learning is vast and overwhelming. The most helpful papers I came across were both co-published by the MIT Scheller Education Program and the Education Arcade (see links below). While many educators accept and support the shift towards a more media-rich classroom, many traditional educators have concerns and are against a change. Most educators will agree with that there is a similarity between the skills you need to succeed in schools and needed for games. These include problem solving skills, attention to detail, creativity, and persistence. Supporters, and some skeptics, of game integration agree that “game environments enable players to construct understanding actively, and at individual paces, and that well-designed games enable players to advance on different paths at different rates in response to each player’s interests and abilities, while also fostering collaboration and learning”. However, parents and teachers have many concerns including aligning games with content standards, an unfamiliarity with the games, designing assessment tools, lack of research-based methods, and the cost of equipment and other resources. While these certainly are all valid concerns, there needs to be some sort of technology shift within the classroom and gaming can be a part it. The worlds around us is advancing and changing rapidly. “Undoubtedly, without these recent technologies in the classroom, strong lessons can still be achieved, but there’s a sharp disconnect between the way students are taught in school and the way the outside world approaches socialization, meaning-making, and accomplishment.” What message are we sending our students in regards to technology if our classrooms do not mirror the rest of the world. Education should be part of the forefront when it comes to new technologies.
Moving Learning Games Forward: opportunities, obstacles, and openness
Using the Technology of Today, in the classroom today: The instructional power of digital games, social networks, and simulations and how teachers can leverage them.
Below is the link to another great article recently published in T.H.E Journal. This article describes some of the games, such as SimCityEdu and Minecraft, that educators are currently using in classroom. The articles discusses the teachers experiences and implications for other classrooms. Gaming as part of education will not be successful in every classroom nor is it intended for every student. There are however, many students who would benefit from this hands-on type instruction. As long as we can develop games that will align with standards and create valid assessment tools there is no reason to shut the door on the integration between education and gaming. 21st century educators need to embrace all new technologies and learn how to reach students in doing so. Gaming is a great place to start this process!