Are digital games being overlooked in ‘digital education’ reform?
My personal video game history is rather historical. It centres around the early video games of the 1980s; Pong, Space Invaders, Frogger, Pacman and Donkey Kong. As video games developed in the late 1980s I was more interested in music and impending adulthood and lost interest in video games.
“Atari 2600” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by moparx
As a teacher librarian I have watched students play games in the library for entertainment and learning but have not been involved in curricular decisions or been motivated to learn more about game based learning. I was first made aware of game based learning in the 1990s when secondary students were involved in playing the Sharemarket Game . Students were so engaged and rushed into the library to check whether they had made “money” or lost it. The Sharemarket Game demonstrated to me that games with an educational intent could also be highly motivating (Jennings, 2014).
I admire proponents of game based learning such as Rebecca Martin (Jennings, 2014) who are willing to integrate games into learning however I feel unqualified to do so. I am not a gamer and admit that up until now I have had little interest in becoming one because I have so many other interests. I am not part of the culture of games (Jennings, 2014) and I don’t speak the language so I feel inadequate. I am out of my comfort zone.
10 Benefits when You Step out of your Comfort Zone (great graphic to share!)#edchat #cpchat #suptchat #K12 | via @sylviaduckworth pic.twitter.com/zEpB6A9m5Q
— Mentoring Minds (@mentoringminds) March 1, 2017
I am certainly not anti-games but like Dr Beavis I have some concerns about their affect on learning (Jennings, 2014). I see the potential games have for practicing 21st century skills of critical thinking, communication, collaboration and creativity (Extra Credits, 2014) but believe more research is required. In recent years public libraries have embraced video games and makerspaces to appeal to the community and makerspaces are becoming more common in school libraries too. Professionally I need to up-skill so that I can make informed decisions.
The popular media and my own professional reading around digital education is dominated by the word coding. Coding is considered a future work skill by governments and a way of moving students from being consumers of technology to creators (Turnbull, 2014). The focus on technology and STEM may give more legitimacy to digital games for learning and result in more research.
My personal aims:
- overcome my lack of knowledge and experience of game based learning
- understand the applicability of games for learning within a library setting
- be able to confidently share my learning with my colleagues
- do I have to be a gamer in order to embrace games for learning?
- lack of experience and confidence with recent video game technologies
- maintaining a growth mindset when things get difficult
Extra Credits [User name]. 2014 May 14. How games prepare you for life – Education: 21st century skills [Video file]. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/0hoeAmqwvyY
Jennings, J. (2014, November 30). Teachers re-evaluate value of video games. Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved from http://interact.csu.edu.au/sakai-msi-tool/content/bbv.html?subjectView=true&siteId=INF541_201730_W_D
Turnbull, M. (2014, October 24). Speech: The Importance of Tech Education in Our Schools [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://www.malcolmturnbull.com.au/media/speech-the-importance-of-tech-education-in-our-schools