With the growing popularity in gamification and game-based learning, more and more conversations are being held about the viability of games in the educational sector (particularly K-12). Many are wondering to what extent should K-12 education use gamification in their learning.
The simple answer is that there really isn’t an exact answer. I think that using game theory in learning environments can prove useful (it’s been done in some capacity for years), but relying too much on it to drive home a lesson, or to teach the content, can be a mistake.
Kids Play Games… A Lot!
In the United States, it has been reported that roughly nine out of 10 kids engages in electronic game play. This doesn’t seem too far of a stretch when you consider the accessibility of the apps being used on mobile devices.
Studies also have shown that the average eighth-grade boy will play video games fro about 23 hours a week (girls reported at 12 hours per week). It is certainly something that today’s youth is familiar with!
What isn’t abundantly clear here though are the types of games that are being played. It’s one thing to say that kids play video games, but does that mean it translate effectively to an educational (and classroom) setting? I’m not entirely convinced.
What is useful about games is the way you can get the participants to think creatively (and apply) learning in a different context – which goes a long way in content retention. The hardest part though is not creating the game, but rather making sure that the game’s participants are all progressing at a similar pace.
If you are looking into using some form of gaming in a classroom setting, I would suggest starting off small and going from there. Poll participants to see what worked and what didn’t – this way you can constantly refine the way the games are implemented so that it successfully reaches the maximum number of users.
GameSalad for Education