It is a struggle for me to view myself as a gamer. As a child my siblings avoided giving me the Nintendo remotes, knowing that Mario would be die immediately or the car I was driving would continually crash into the wall. The only game I was any good at was Tetris, and all three of my siblings still had higher scores than me. However, when it came to a game of Monopoly, Scrabble or Guess Who I was continually victorious.
These days I watch and listen to my students discuss MindCraft with passion and Call of Duty, arguing over who has unlocked the next level. I observe as they watch the new Halo trailer together, questioning each other over how good it is going to be, and now… I want in! I want to feel that excitement over online gaming and know how to incorporate something they enjoy so much into the classroom.
Our students are growing up in a constantly changing environment of information consumption, interpretation and sharing. Reading, writing and arithmetic are no longer enough in order for them to grow in their educations and careers.
Students in the 21st Century need to sift through a vast assortment of information to formulate plans of action (National Education Society, 2013). Introducing serious games into education not only addresses the three Rs but is guiding our students towards achieving the four Cs; Critical Thinking and Problem Solving, Communication, Collaboration and Creativity and Innovation, all of which are necessary skills of a 21st Century learner.
“The future belongs to a very different kind of person with a very different kind of mind – creators and emphasizers, pattern recognisers and meaning makers. These people… will now reap society’s richest rewards and share its greatest joys.”
– Daniel Pink
Students learn from the cultures and communities that are built around games. Incorporating games into education means that students will be moving from a passive approach to learning to an active or interactive approach.
By integrating subject specific content into games, teachers can build student engagement and excitement which, in turn, will assist in learning concepts which would otherwise be difficult to grasp. Understandably there needs to be involvement from the teacher, not only in the classroom during the game but also before and after playing the game. Game based learning requires the teacher to become fully immersed with the culture and communities around them.
My classroom is set up as a contemporary learning space with a large focus on problem based learning. As I move forward with this subject, I am continually coming across ideas as well as resources that will be of benefit to my students. Not only will some of the recommended games further their knowledge on specific subjects, but also assist in creating 21st Century learners. Learners who think deeply and more abstractly, socialise with others around the world, are driven to feel success, learn from trial and error and grow in the area of teamwork and collaboration.
According to Marc Prensley (2007) I am a ‘digital native’, as are my students. But as technology and games continue to grow at a hectic pace we are left in a quandary. How can we, as educators, stay up with the ever-increasing pace of games and technology? How do we know we are sharing relevant and up to date information? I believe that in this instance it is important to step into your students’ shoes and be the learner, because they too have knowledge to share with you.
Pink, D. (2011). Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us. New York: Riverhead.
Jennings, J. (2014). Teachers re-evaluate value of video games. Sydney Morning Herald. Accessed on 1st March at http://www.smh.com.au/national/education/teachers-reevaluate-value-of-video-games-20141130-11jw0i.html
National Education Society. (2013). Preparing 21st Century Students for a Global Society: An Educator’s Guide to the “Four Cs”. http://www.nea.org/assets/docs/A-Guide-to-Four-Cs.pdf
Prensley, M. (2007). Digital Game Based Learning. Paragon House: New York.