The all too familiar slingshots are clear in my mind. Two years ago, I was given the opportunity to pilot our one to one computing program with the deployment of twenty five Android tablets in my fifth grade classroom. The result was a very unique perspective on gaming in the classroom. The first week was met with student requests to start installing games. Interestingly, students were prepared with well thought out rationales as to why I should let them install Angry Birds. “It can help us learn our angles!”, or “we have to use strategy!” I quickly realized that my students were correct, and that this was genuinely an ideal moment to start the gaming conversation. As I began to discuss the use of educational games, it was clear that my students saw gaming as motivating, engaging, and simply an enjoyable way to learn. They also added that many games were collaborative, where students can work together or play against each other in real time. Our informal classroom conversation mimicked the current research regarding 21st century students and educational gaming in the classroom.
Educational gaming is serious business. No longer simply an add -on, gaming can create much needed motivation in classrooms where students seem disconnected and apathetic about the learning process. A yearlong pan-European study that included over 500 teachers found that the great majority of the teachers surveyed confirmed that “motivation is significantly greater when computer games are integrated into the educational process” (Joyce, Gerhard, & Debry, 2009, pp.11). Game based learning allows students to become connected to the learning process. “Players are more motivated when they feel a personal attachment to the goal” (Gee, 2009). On the forefront of educational gaming are games that have clearly defined outcomes and are geared towards prosocial behavior. Games such as Quest Atlantis are “designed to support social commitment and real-world action” (http://atlantisremixed.org/). By allowing students an immersive environment, this type of “transformational play” is truly motivating to the 21st century student who thrives off of imaginative play and quick feedback.
Atlantis Remixed. Retrieved from: http://atlantisremixed.org/#86
Gee, J.P. (2009). Deep learning properties of good digital games: How far can they go? In J.P. Gee (Ed.). Theories and mechanisms: Serious games for learning. New York, NY: Routledge
Joyce, A., Gerhard, P., & Debry, M. (2009). How are digital games used in schools: Complete results of the study. European Schoolnet.