“Hey! I have got great news: we can change the way we educate students! The answer is an electronic game-based classroom…” – These exact words, taken from the performance of one incredible boy on TEDx talk, inspired me to write this post about the usage of educational digital games in the classroom. In particular, I will discuss the advantages and disadvantages of using the educational video games on lessons at schools by the examples of several teachers who successfully apply this approach in their teaching.
First of all, educational games are different from the usual games kids and even adults play these days. In fact, the educational games can really teach you a diversity of subjects and skills: math, reading, vocabulary, physics, science, computer science (also, check out this video), creativity, persuasive skills, and even social skills. Educational games can challenge students to think about the environmental problems in the world by using SimCity game, about the sustainability and the ways to improve the quality of life with the help of EnerCities application and even prepare students for natural disasters and demonstrate the ways of preventing them. Actually, there is a long list of such awesome educational games on the internet (check out this site). For me, these games are just amazing tools of educating children effectively without getting them bored and annoyed with school. However, before jumping to conclusions about the appropriateness of the game-based classroom in Kazakhstani context, it is crucial to weigh all pros and cons of this approach.
The first advantage is an individualized approach to every student. As Cordell Steiner (a boy from the TEDx talk) says, this individualized approach of game-based learning considers the abilities of every student and helps them to be on one track. Cordeil’s teacher Mr. Pai believes that in traditional classrooms one teacher cannot handle the whole class and find an individual approach to every student. Conversely, in a game-based classroom, students are independent learners and a teacher can adapt games to their needs and levels of knowledge. Moreover, in a game-based classroom, students are driven to study by the intrinsic rather than extrinsic motivation (Habgood & Ainsworth, 2011). In other words, students are engaged with the game and want to learn more in order to solve the problems and puzzles. Therefore, they care less about their grades and are not afraid of failures since it is one of the ways to learn on their mistakes.
Even though I do not want to accept the disadvantages of implementing a game-based learning, they do really exist. However, I would call them challenges rather than disadvantages. The first one is the misconceptions of parents about the effectiveness and appropriateness of using video games in the classroom. Lisa Parisi, a teacher of fourth graders, faced this problem at the onset of shifting her classroom from traditional to a game-based learning. She says that parents were worrying that their children used too much video games at school and then at home, since even their homework was based on these games. The second challenge is concerning the digital preparedness of teachers and their eagerness to spend much time looking for games on the internet and adapting them to the content of the curriculum. In Kazakhstani schools, it is even more impossible since teachers are restricted to follow the curriculum approved by the Ministry of Education and administration of schools. In addition, most schools are not able to provide all students with laptops or other technical devices.
To conclude, a game-based classroom is an innovative approach of conducting traditional lessons in an engaging and more effective way. The reality of our education at school shows that the product (education) is offered to customers (students) without considering their preferences and abilities. Thus, the customers (students) either reject buying this product (resist learning, misbehave at schools) or buy it with a great reluctance because of some external factors (good grades, pressure from parents). As we live in the era of digital competition, we need to prepare our children to be creative and competitive innovators in the future. Thus, the usage of digital games in teaching and learning can play a huge role in this development.
P/S I CHALLENGE you to watch this amazing speech of Cordell Steiner, a boy who can compete with many adult public speakers.
Habgood, M., & Ainsworth, S. (2011). Motivating Children to Learn Effectively: Exploring the Value of Intrinsic Integration in Educational Games. Journal of the Learning Sciences, 20(2), 169-206.