Part II Gaming: Making It Work for Teachers and Students

Here’s a post with more questions than answers.  It’s a post that reflects learning in progress about gaming and education.

Here’s what I hear practicing teachers saying:  For the most part, they see the potential of gaming, but they face some challenges using it.  The technology is not always functioning in the class or able to support it.  When the tech does work, fitting it into the curriculum, making sure it aligns with the standards, etc. for multiple reasons is a task that is asking a lot from an underpaid and overworked group of dedicated people.  Some want one place to go to—where they are not searching all over the Internet to find resources.  In essence, these teachers want it incorporated into the curriculum they are using and part of a system. 

I also hear many teachers saying they are extremely hesitant to recommend or use online games that require passwords. This hesitancy is at all levels K-adult.  The ramifications of managing 25+ kindergarten students on more than one online site is understandable.  Yes, I’ve read multiple ways of doing this—using the same password, etc., but the reality of it is enough to turn most teachers away.  This issue persists all the way to adults.  I see it changing, but many of my adult students are hesitant to create yet another password and username.  It can lead to good discussions about security, digital footprints, etc, but is it all worth the time and effort the busy teacher asks?

Equal opportunities:  And then, there is the question, how can students access these same sites outside of class to extend their learning?  Not all students have access to the Internet at home; while other students in the same class not only have the Internet, but their own iPads.  Is it fair for the teacher to require or recommend online games or apps when only a portion of the students have access to them outside of class?  Is it fair for them to not recommend them?

old soul by FotoChronicle, on FlickrThese questions lead to other questions:  1. Perhaps a disruptive educational innovation in the hands of students and teachers is on the horizon that includes gaming, individualizing instruction and addresses some of the issues faced?  Oh, let’s throw transmedia  storytelling in there for good measure too.   2. What changes are on the horizon with text based curriculum?  See our previous discussion on this topic.   3. And then the inevitable can of worms: How does all this fit into standardized testing?  Life is interesting in part due to not having all the answers. 

As I search, here are actions I wish to pursue and encourage others to do
  • Keep searching for online and mobile games that do indeed foster positive learning experiences beyond rote memorization to developing high order thinking skills.  Use the revised version of Bloom’s Taxonomy as a measuring stick.  
  • Advocate for educational gaming that is accessible to teachers and students both inside and outside of school.  The author’s of Disrupting Class have an intriguing blog.  This article is one of several that relates to this topic.
  • (This is perhaps the hardest considering how much our teachers face and do.)  Encourage creative and innovative administrators and teachers to look beyond the curriculum.  There are some amazing opportunities out there that are not bound by textbooks or walls and that do incorporate the standards and keep individual students at the center. 
  • Promote computer science K-12.  Whenever we can put students in the role of the designer, empowering them with these tools, we are empowering them with critical thinking skills and perhaps shaping our future.        
In the meantime, when can teachers use gaming?  In the broader definition, most do.  See the low tech World Peace Game post for an example.   It can also begin with simple steps like discovering what is available.  (See links below to get started.)   Creating links to games on class websites or blogs can also be effective for providing kids safe spaces in independent work time or as an outside of school recommendation.   

Here are recommendations to get started for finding appropriate educational gaming:
Feel free to share additional resources with us!  Happy educational gaming!

*photo creditsCreative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License by FotoChronicle 

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