For many people the thought of using “games” in a classroom environment seems like it would be more of a distraction than anything else.
I can recall times during grade school when we would have a classroom oriented game and things would get out of hand quickly. Some children would become way too competitive, others would dominate their group, and others still would disengage altogether.
At the end of the game the teacher usually struggled to drive home the key points and to get everyone to settle down.
The growth of video games however changed the gaming landscape for education. Soon there were educational games created specifically for school (“Number Munchers” was a personal favorite in my youth).
Fast forward to today, and in America gamers spend quite a bit of time engrossed in their games (roughly 13 hours per week). There are 1.8 billion gamers worldwide as of 2014. It’s very much part of our culture.
This means that gaming elements are understood and can be leveraged in ways to supplement traditional classroom activities (i.e. leaderboards, points, and badges). In fact, when gaming was introduced into the classroom some teachers saw up to 70% increase in student engagement.
Not all that glitters is gold though.
Using games in the classroom is costly. It’s more expensive than a book and paper approach to learning. Also, games can be extremely distraction if they aren’t managed properly and it can contribute to shortened attention spans.
Still there are positives to games in the classroom, so it is still something you should consider using. They can teach teamwork, long-term planning, and multi-tasking abilities.
Just use gaming in moderation.