Are Video Games the Learning Tools They’re Cracked Up To Be?

I was just included in an interesting “Up For Discussion” feature on Zócalo Public Square about whether video games in education are all they’re cracked up to be.

http://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/2012/12/03/class-i-commend-you-for-your-work-on-resident-evil/ideas/up-for-discussion/

Check out the whole array of viewpoints. Here was mine:

I believe that while many people overrate the benefits of video games in education, just as many underrate them. Video games are tools like any other. Their pros and cons depend on how, why, when, and for whom the video games are used. The use of video games in education should be tailored, not off-the-rack. However, until we have more direct scientific evidence on this topic, we can only do thought experiments. For my thought experiment, I focus on how video games might influence the broader contexts of learning: relationships and motivation.

Relationships. Do video games influence the teacher-student relationship? A recent study hints at the possibility. This study compared mothers playing with their toddlers with traditional toys versus electronic versions of the same toy. Mothers playing with the electronic toys were less responsive, less likely to be educational, and less encouraging. Might the same apply to teachers and students? Could video games, because they “do the teaching” have a negative impact on a teacher’s ability and motivation to engage with students? Could video games disempower teachers?

Motivation. We use incentives all the time to motivate learning (e.g., grades), but video games may be unique in the degree to which incentives, whether points or rewards, are integral to the learning process. If the motivation for learning becomes too closely tied to these external incentives, the pleasure of learning for learning’s sake may be squelched and children may miss opportunities to appreciate that setbacks—not getting a reward—are opportunities to improve. We must think through the subtle ways in which video games can shape children’s motivation for learning and design video games to encourage the learning style we believe will be most productive.

Whether one believes that video games will lead to shorter attention spans and boredom in the classroom or that they are powerful tools for igniting a child’s passion for learning, video games will soon become a central part of the educational landscape. So, let’s figure out how to do it right.

 

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9 Comments

  1. David Yerle

     /  December 16, 2012

    I find videogames are useful as part of a lesson plan, but that they shouldn’t be used indiscriminately. There always has to be a point. I have used light-bot to teach programming to 3rd graders and it has been an astounding success, especially since some of them will like it so much they will play it in their free time. It is a way of making students do homework without actually assigning it.

    Reply
  2. Only one thing to say – kids should not spend too much time playing games (no matter of what kind), I speak from experience – games waste time. I regret spending so much time playing them instead of developing my skills.
    By the way you have a nice blog and I like your writing ^^

    Reply
  3. It’s actually a cool and useful piece of information. I am satisfied that you just shared this useful information with us. Please stay us up to date like this. Thank you for sharing.

    Reply
  4. Online learning is a still a relatively young industry, promising a rich future of breakthroughs.

    Reply

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