Digital Games in Education

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Hate them or love them, digital games are here for the long haul. It is easy to think of these games as distracting, especially when there is evidence that some children even exhibit computer-game addictive behavior (Harris, 2001). Since the first commercial computer game, Computer Space, in 1971, digital games now occupy much of the leisure of our children. However, they also play an increasingly important role in our culture, especially when today's world is ubiquitous with technology and inter-connectivity: our kids are growing up with iPads, smartphones and notebooks!

Digital games can be a powerful platform to support students' learning.

The tools necessary for success in life are not limited to reading, writing and arithmetic, but go beyond them to include areas such as problem solving, collaboration and communication, skills sought by employers. These skills are also needed to succeed in the games, as noted in 2005, when the Federation of American Scientists, the Entertainment Software Association, and the National Science Foundation brought together nearly 100 experts to examine ways to develop games. learning the next generation.

Pros and cons of digital games in education

Many people think that digital games complement traditional classroom learning. Some advocates have described this area of ​​potential activity as "edutainmental", content with great educational value and entertainment. The benefits of such games to support student learning have been studied and include:

  1. Help the learning process. The learning process is a complex cognitive task that students have to cope with a lot of effort.
  2. Provides an interesting and stimulating environment.
  3. Increases motivation, retention, and performance (especially for hard-to-center students)

However, there are limits to its use as a pedagogical tool. Many educators believe that for digital games to be interesting, they must be well designed and can be easily modified to fit the program. A well-designed educational game would require animation and gamification elements, including mini-games, bonus points and a leaderboard. Such tailor-made games would require considerable investment of time and money on the part of schools. Educators can purchase educational games off the shelf, but these may not meet the needs of the program or school.

Types of games and digital platforms

How to best use digital games in class? Different genres of these types of games can be implemented depending on the learning outcomes. For example, strategic games can be used for projects that require critical analysis and collaboration. Simulation games allow students to experience scenarios that would otherwise not be possible in the classroom environment, such as urban planning or scientific experiments in the absence of labs. The technologies that can be used as educational tools range from the immersive user experience for role play (eg, augmented reality, 3D, Kinect) to simpler platforms such as the iPad.

Conclusion

Research has shown that digital games effectively enhance the learning and teaching experience in the classroom. But there are also limits to its use. On the one hand, schools will need to invest time and money in developing a good personalized digital game that will meet their needs. However, once this problem is overcome, the benefits are immense.

Reference:

Harris, J. (2001). The effects of computer games on young children: a review of research.


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