A recent class discussion regarding development of the learning space for today's students and parent involvement brought about a number of different concepts which were quite interesting to read over the course of the past two weeks. Once topic, in particular, struck a chord. Part of our discussion explored the idea of technology becoming synonymous with a binkie. High priced toys which some parents purchase just to keep their kids out of their hair. The parents get some quiet time while the kids get to spend time developing hand/eye coordination, problem solving and other important skills. It is not my place to judge how parents spend time with their children however, I wonder how we, as teachers, can take the child's love of video games and mold it into a beneficial educational experience?
Video games can be an incredible medium to engage students in learning. Several universities have seen the potential video games have in regards to education and already modified current games for this purpose. For example, MIT created a game called Revolution which is based on a very popular game called Neverwinter Nights. It is a role playing game which places the student in Virginia during the Revolutionary War. The students see the war first person and have to make decisions like choosing to be an American soldier or a British soldier. The game combines the kids' love of video games with American History to create a very effective learning tool.
Some games would not need to be modified for use in the classroom. The original Starcraft can be used to teach concepts like teamwork, communication, collaboration, critical thinking skills and economics. My after-school gaming club often played multiplayer matches of Starcraft against me and eventually against the computer. Over time, they were able to defeat stronger opponents by applying their previous experience, devising a strategy, managing their team's resources and effectively communicating with each other throughout the exercise. Other games such as Sid Meyer's Civilization series can be used to teach history, economics and politics. Rollercoaster Tycoon can teach concepts from economics, physics and engineering. In any case, with proper planning, these games could easily be used in an educational setting to allow students to learn complex concepts while making learning fun.
Many teachers have already started using games in their daily lessons. I am quite curious to see what games were chosen and how they were used in their classes. Everyone is welcome to share their experiences with games in the classroom as well as opinions from those who feel gaming has no place in the classroom. Feel free to share your thoughts at any time!