Video Games As Part of the School Day?
As you walk through Marilyn Kido’s third-grade class in Topeka, KS, don't be surprised if you hear strange noises. Laser beams firing, engines revving, and cheers of the victorious may not be common around the school, but in her class they are an everyday occurrence.
Don't kids spend enough time playing video games? Many researchers argue that's exactly why schools need to make greater use of video games in the classroom. Children are playing video games - whether the Sony PlayStation or the Nintendo Wii - more than any other leisure activity. Just as television and movies in the 20th century created children who were content to sit and watch a screen, video games are creating a generation of kids who want to actively participate and create their own entertainment.
Video games are challenging in a way that students appreciate. Students are not usually excited about doing drill and practice things - a problem to which all teachers and parents can relate. Schools have traditionally used two methods of getting students to do drill work: either force them or bribe students with a prize. Video games can be used as another avenue – games make the material more fun and engaging for today’s technology-driven students.
Two gaming styles are emerging in education – immersive games and targeted games. Immersive games, like DimensionM, immerse the student in a story-based environment where the student must solve problems to move through the story. Targeted games, on the other hand, are rapid drill-and-practice games that give students repeated practice on a targeted subject. The goal of targeted games is to make the students fluent in the skills being practiced - as students play more, their rate of response increases and error rate decreases until eventually they can solve the problems automatically.
A new multi-player game called Division Derby enables 12 students to play together other on the same game in real time. Each student has a pony on the track, the speed is controlled by the student’s rate of correct answers as they race each other around the track The competitive aspect of multi-player gaming engages students in a fun way that encourages learning, especially when compared to flash cards. A recent pilot study by Arcademics with schools in the Olathe KS School District showed that students’ rate (how quickly a student correctly answers the problem) improved 15% compared to students who studied flash cards during the 7-day study. Games can improve performance through increased time on task, increased motivation, and increased timely feedback.
As gaming in education moves forward with multi-player gaming and virtual environments, the hope is that teachers and administrators will incorporate video games into their curriculum as more than just time filler activities or rewards for completing class work early. Video games have the potential to challenge students in a way they understand and respond to. Games can engage students, stimulate higher-order thinking skills, and can expose students to situations that could not easily be replicated in the classroom.
And most of all, video games are fun, like learning should be.
Arcademic Skill Builders are free and can be played by visiting www.arcademics.com
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