Digital gaming and education have very few memorable titles,“Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing” and “Oregon Trail,” the Pioneers of “gaming” in the classroom and the most memorable educational games for the classroom.Why is this? With gaming as popular as it is today and education having such an impact on our lives, there should be a nice middle point where the two can meet and break open a new way for students to learn. However, gaming today is still visioned to be the ultimate distraction.
The days of the side-scroller are not as relevant as they used to be many years back. Games today are becoming less one sided, or linear, and giving the player more control of the environment that they are apart of. For example, most open world games today allow the player to take many different paths to reach different end goals. This gives the player a stronger desire to think and make decisions on the fly that ultimately could affect the outcome of their entire playthrough. An even greater lesson might come from an MMO or Massive Multiplayer Online Experience. This not only gives players the same freedom as an open world game but also the ability to work in teams and have a collaborative effort in achieving the games goal.
Games can be great educational tools for kids without them even knowing. Let’s take Valve’s “Portal” series for example, these games demonstrate strong problem solving skills, Science, and Math skills that can be brought to the classroom through a whole new perspective. A website, “Teaching with Portals” has even been created with lesson plans to give educators a new way to teach in the classroom.
“Portal” is the perfect game to provide a framework for a school’s overall curriculum. Using the standard teaching model, but doing it a new way that draws students in through the inspiration of video games. The ability to adopt this new way of teaching isn’t necessarily easy, however students will be impacted in a positive way from something that most of them do for fun everyday. Allowing students to improve their Science, Math, Engineering and Technology in such an impactful way, they begin to blur the lines between school and fun, even wanting to continue to learn through this very popular medium.
As years progress administration and teachers alike grow to recognize the importance of video games in the educational realm. Several state education officials are already beginning to standardize game design curriculum for statewide institutions. When more and more of these programs launch we will hopefully begin to see more states embrace video games and truly see that is a powerful tool for education and the future of its students. .