Every Friday I like to highlight an interesting and/or thought provoking comment from the forum here on the site, and share it with the wider community that reads my blog. Partly because I’m interested in promoting others’ ideas, but mostly because the members of the community here have contributed far more than I ever will to education.
Towards the end of last school year, I brought up the concept of using video games in the classroom. Not just the simple math and reading games that kids play online, but actual video game consoles like the Nintendo Wii or Nintendo DS. For those that aren’t aware, I’m a bit of a video game addict, and am at heart a Nintendo Fanboy. So every so often I like to surf the web using my Nintendo Wii, and the Opera Web Browser that I downloaded for it. Favorite sites are bookmarked, and with a handy on-screen keyboard, I can even participate in forum discussions, make quick posts, or leave a comment on someone’s webpage with my video game console.
I know that Falconphysics has already said that he surfs ocassionally on his Nintendo DS, but I’m curious if anyone else out there is using their consoles or handhelds for regular surfing? Not necessarily in an educational setting, but rather in personal use. With the advent of the iPhone, and it’s ability to access the web via any wifi hotspot, my guess is the number of web surfers on mobile devices will increase tremendously here in the U.S. Couple that with the the ability of many video game consoles going online, I wouldn’t be surprised if someone was reading this right now on their television or PSP.
I use online video games with my English Language Learner students as a language development activity. TechLearning will soon be publishing an article I’ve written about it, but they’ve given me permission to post it on my website now if anyone ones to read it:
I read your article today and thought I would add a comment and a question. I have written on this topic on my blog (http://randrmlt.blogspot.com) broached this topic with some of my colleagues as a way to enhance the sixth grade social studies curriculum and the idea was brushed off by one teacher but met with some enthusiasm by another. My question is how have you used them in your classroom and what has been the reaction by the distict tech department?
I am encouraged though to see other educators out there willing to give games a chance.
I’ve used games in my physics class. We use the Ti-83/84 graphing calculators. When we get to vectors I will often use a game called Scorched Earth. In this game the players each have a tank and try to shoot the other. The must take a number of factors into account, including wind, angle, and shot power.
I typically use this as an “Anticipatory Set” to grab their attention. I want to get them thinking about vectors as a useful concept with real applications, rather than an abstract concept.
The first time I used this game my goal was very different. I hoped to get the students calculating the correct vectors to destroy their classmates, but I found they simply guessed and narrowed in on their target without the use of any vector addition.
With games in education you have to be sure you can reconcile your goals with the way the students will play. If there is a way to play the game with out thinking about your objectives they will often choose this approach.
I recently purchased the opera browser for my daughter’s nintendo wii (hoping she would use that instead of my laptop!) we both found that it is marginal at best. The most annoying thing is that you still must use the wii controller to navigate. Next up will be the opera browser on the DS- but I’m not hopeful for this either.
My vision for the future of this technology in education is that this is where the true “one to one” will actually happen. As these gaming consoles get more and more sophisticated, we will have the opportunity to have a class of “wired” students to broadcast to. Too expensive to give the entire school district a laptop? Students don’t have a decent family computer at home? Look in their pockets for a revolution!
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