A Guide to Digital Games and Learning
Digital games are starting to pop up in classrooms across the country. Some teachers and parents are still hesitant to encourage their children to spend time focusing on these games instead of the traditional textbook approach that has been used for years. Unfortunately, this section of the population might be on the losing end of the battle. Education technology (often referred to as edtech) can help students to become more engaged in learning.
Digital games and video games used in the classroom are included under the overarching edtech umbrella, but are they truly useful for teaching? There are a few things that everyone should know about how these digital games relate to learning. Before you form an opinion, here’s what you need to know.
Digital games provide a substantial benefit to academics.
Beyond the content of the game itself, digital games help students to develop real skills that will be necessary both in the classroom and in real life. Video games can help to improve a child’s attention span and ability to focus on the task at hand. Students are motivated to continue playing and learning due to the immediate rewards given throughout the games. Each reward brings a subtle shift in the child’s mood and improves their state of mind throughout the day. As you can see, there are more to video games than simply what meets the eye.
Teachers need to play the games to ensure they are right for students.
Are you having a hard time deciding which games will be right for your students? Beyond the logistics of choosing a game that is compatible with your hardware and budget, you need one that is both engaging and academic. The simplest way to choose a game is to play a few of them on your own. Try to keep your students in mind as you decide whether it will be easy enough or fun enough to sustain their attention.
Games can motivate low performers.
Every classroom has a handful of students that struggle to keep up with the curriculum and content. Over time, they become significantly more discouraged by their failures and disengage from classroom instruction. Introducing digital games into the curriculum is a great way to reach these struggling students and bring them back into the fold. The increased motivation from these low-performing students actually brought grades up, according to one study. In fact, 78 percent of teachers who used digital games saw improved grades in subjects related to the game.
Insufficient time is the biggest reason games aren’t used.
Unsurprisingly, many teachers state that their biggest problem with incorporating games into the curriculum is insufficient time. They are already overwhelmed by trying to uphold all of the state standards that they have little teaching time left for digital games. This can be remedied by finding games that directly apply to the curriculum and unit of study. Educators must shift their mindset in order to make use of digital games and re-engage students with learning.
Digital games provide a host of benefits if educators are willing to find a way to incorporate them into the classroom. Students gain better cognitive abilities, emotional regulation, and better grades. It’s time to take advantage of the tools that are readily available to our teachers and bring more digital games into the school.