There are many strong proponents of the value of gaming for productivity–particularly in the education realm. A quick look at this survey shows that 15 percent of gamers surveyed reported they have played online games in a school setting. With technology becoming easier to use and more integrated into our everyday life, online games now have a place in education. They are being used more and more in classrooms where teachers are gleaning opportunities to learn and grow by allowing the students to play online games as a part of the lesson.
Terry Heick, a writer for the education blog TeachThought.com shares, “Even if you’re soundly convinced about their merit and place in learning, how can you consistently integrate them in the classroom? The 21st century classroom is about diversity–infinite possible pathways between content and students, resulting in self-directed learning as much as data-driven ‘teaching.’ Online games can be a significant part of that.”
Research for Inspiration
For educators looking for specific ways to incorporate online games into their classrooms and lessons there are many resources available. Some teachers have found benefit using Wikis to find the most popular games. These allow you to collaborate and share ideas on how to teach and integrate these games into the classroom, whether you want to focus on World of Warcraft, Minecraft, or any other games that may come to mind.
Dr. David Childs, Ph.D., Northern Kentucky University shares many resources to help social study teachers incorporate online games into their lesson plans on Democracy and Me.org. “Using online games for educational purposes is nothing new, many people of a certain generation remember Oregon Trail and early math video games of the late twentieth century. However, many teachers do not realize the incredible role online games can play in the classroom today, especially in the area of social studies,” he explains.
Real Life Examples
This 2014 blog post on using technology to teach history in the classroom goes a little deeper, “Current video games, and even some older ones, contain huge amounts of historical, geographical, and economic data that we need to find ways to use…an AP US history teacher using the game Medal of Honor helped his students understand the events surrounding D-Day and the impact they had on post-war relationships.” This particular teacher connected the game to real life and tapped into students emotions by having veterans come in and share their stories — but only after the kids had played the game and learned the language used and a bit of the geography of that time period. It had a profound effect on his students.
The National Education Association is taking notice. They recently wrote about the uptick in game-based classrooms, focusing on Gaming and Instructional Technology Specialist, Lucas Gillespie, who has a blog devoted to showing teachers how they can incorporate gaming into the classroom. “I like to use the games that my students play at home because I find they have more fun and I’m better at creating lessons through those types of games,” says Gillespie. “With that, it is important to acknowledge that there is an equity issue around getting those types of online games in the classroom. I need to have a PC, often with some decent power, to play games like Minecraft: Education Edition, Cities: Skylines, and Offworld Trading Company.”
A Different Approach
But, what if you don’t have that kind of access in your school system? Gillespie explains, “I allowed students to bring their own devices to school. Students would team up to complete the tasks together in the game using the same devices they used at home. If none of that is possible, you can still use game-based learning in the classroom by having students create their own games. Whether digitally, on free programs like Scratch, or with low/no-tech board games, having students make their own games is an awesome experience and one of my favorite assessments.”
Online gaming will surely continue to grow and evolve with technology, as will its use in the classroom. Allowing students do something immersive and interactive, such as playing online games, can provide numerous benefits in the classroom and beyond.