Can Video Games Improve Learning?
Video games are well known for their abilities to keep kids intensely focused and engaged, often to the point that it’s difficult for parents to get their children to pay attention to anything but the game on the screen. These games can provide hours of entertainment, but many parents work hard to get their kids off of video games, limiting their screen time.
While video games have been written off as being unhealthy activities that should be limited, research shows that these games aren’t all bad, after all. In fact, video games can help children develop important skills like improved memory, reasoning, and problem-solving capabilities. Playing games can also boost players’ moods and help reduce anxiety. Plus, since many kids play games like World of Warcraft where they engage with other players and work as teams, gaming isn’t as socially isolating as it was once thought to be.
Video games aren’t just for fun, anymore. Game manufacturers and teachers are now focusing on how these games can be applied to education, helping kids to learn.
Why Video Games Are Ideal Teaching Tools
Games allow for individualized learning so that students can learn at their own pace, even when in a classroom setting. Games can self-adjust based on a player’s success; if a player is answering puzzles or questions correctly, a game can let them progress to the next level or lesson. At the same time, if a player isn’t successful, games can present supplementary information to reinforce lessons, then give players extra practice on puzzles or questions until they’re successful and ready to progress.
For students who are disengaged with classroom learning, games provide motivation. Because students associate games with fun, using games in the classroom can encourage students to attend class and be more engaged in their learning. Games collect data about students as they play, allowing teachers to not only monitor the progress of these under-performing students, but also to easily track the class’ progress as a whole.
Games are affordable, making them accessible even to schools with tight budgets, and teachers can choose from countless educational games. Supplementing a lesson with video games is easier today than ever before.
How Video Games Are Helping Kids Learn
Many teachers and schools already use video games to facilitate learning. Minecraft has rolled out an education edition, a game-based learning platform that can be used to teach subjects for grades K-12. Currently, the platform allows educators to communicate learning objectives to their students within the game. Then, students can play with their peers in a secure environment, work together on projects, and access digital resources to help them accomplish their projects and learn about math, chemistry, coding, and more. Minecraft Education Edition is currently in use throughout more than 100 countries.
Even games that haven’t been specifically designed for the classroom still offer skill-building and development advantages. Games like Sudoku and tic-tac-toe develop strategy and problem-solving skills, while other role-playing video games teach kids important lessons about character development, social interaction, decision making, and how to deal with losing and disappointment. Video games can also teach money management skills.
Teachers can also use games to supplement in-classroom lessons. For instance, after teaching a lesson on early American colonization, a teacher can then have their students build their own settlements in Minecraft, essentially bringing that lesson to life in a visual, engaging way. Other history games like Civilization and Never Alone can also be used in similar ways, giving students an active role in their learning and helping them to grasp new concepts and ideas.
How Technology Impacts Learning
In addition to the ways that video games are helping kids to learn, technology itself has had major impacts on learning and education. Technology has given kids new and different ways to learn, shifting the focus of classroom learning to a more student-centered design. With technology, children are often more engaged and more independent, as they have opportunities to control their own learning.
Technology gives kids valuable opportunities to connect to the world at large, preparing them with the skills that they’ll need within their careers. As kids engage with technology by operating programs, troubleshooting technical issues, and adapting to different information delivery methods such as videos, written text, and more, they’re not only learning about the materials presented, they’re also learning about the technology, itself. Students also learn about responsible technology use, how to identify reputable online sources, and how to use their research skills to find information that they need.
Technology may never replace human teachers and the personalized education that they can offer students, but it can be a valuable supplement to traditional education methods. Using technology in or out of the classroom can help students with different learning styles to engage with the materials, and is an effective way to reinforce lessons. As technology continues to evolve, we’re sure to see new and more options – including video games – designed to help facilitate education.