Every Friday I pull a note-worthy post from the forum here on the site and share it with the wider community. Just last week a newcomer to the forum posted some interesting questions about the use of video games and other computer simulations in the classroom, otherwise known as edu-games. Tabu, a researcher in Denmark (yay, we have international participation on the site), wanted to get educators’ impressions about using educational games in the classroom.
I am interested in knowing:
– Which country you are from
– What level you teach
– Which subject you used edu computer games for
– What your thoughts are of using this (as a part of other teaching materials).
Thanks a lot!!
Thus far there’s been a similar chorus in the responses, including an emphasis about the efficacy of open-ended simulations and tools.
Often kids get just as involved with a good simulation as they would with a game. The key is to make sure they learn something along the way.
While many have found it difficult to work gaming into their teaching in a systematic way, most have posted examples of how they use computer games and simulations in a narrowly focused way, to help reach specific benchmarks and/or goals.
We have purchased only one school wide piece of software that was developed to go hand in hand with our math curriculum and the students do enjoy it. It is just meant to reinforce the lessons in the math books as opposed to “drill and practice”.
The most interesting part of this conversation are the different viewpoints that everyone brings to it. While educators like myself focus on particular pieces of software or online games, TMeeks has personal experience from the software publisher’s side of things, and informs us of the unfortunate commercial aspects of education games and software.
One of the hurdles that educators have when seeking to find a publisher for their video games is that the publishers are biased toward games with scoring. In my own case, I developed two different open ended activities (“My Town“, an early simulation, and the Logo-like “Logic Blocks“) that tested very well in an educational setting as both interesting to children and educationally useful. They were picked up by a small, innovative publisher; but, when a larger publisher bought that company they deemed that it didn’t fit into their goal based educational game line-up.
I thought it might be a nice treat for Tabu to get a wider response to his questions. While there are some great replies already, which I strongly encourage everyone to go read, what are your feelings about edu-games and simulations in the classroom? To add my own question, do you feel that simulations and games on a computer or other electronic device add to the educational experience, or just provide more distraction from the real learning goals? And if they are a distraction, what could be done to improve upon educational games (besides the typically low production cost that makes them appear to be dated and/or obsolete the moment you install them)?