Video games are increasingly present in classrooms as learning tools.
In the nineties and the beginning of the new century, users and consumers worldwide began to have an increasingly close relationship with video games, which started to impact different social spheres and dimensions of the human condition. Video games were no longer perceived as a purely recreational pastime or as an activity promoted for leisure, changing the usual way in which we relate to them.
Among the more conservative groups in different communities, video games were seen as a bad influence on children and young people, associating them with an increase in aggressive behavior and disconnection from reality. However, on the other side of the spectrum, some saw a teaching opportunity incorporated into classrooms as an educational tool. It all depended on the design and purpose of the game.
Commercial video games were created essentially to entertain and not to educate. Still, a set of skills and competencies is necessary to overcome the title’s challenges, allowing the player to develop skills such as communication, adaptability, critical thinking, inventiveness, and persistence.
In this way, different developers and academic institutions realized that the fun provided by a game comes from two aspects: the pleasure of overcoming challenges and the desire to learn as they evolve. Thus, video games began to be used in the classroom to solve problems and puzzles, generate strategies, and coordinate teamwork among classmates. Video games are an excellent essay help because video games develop a person’s creativity. They also help in the development of critical thinking.
Video games transforming the classroom
Human beings learn by playing instinctively from the first years of life. The child acquires knowledge through play because he/she discovers the reality and environment surrounding him/her, driven by curiosity and challenge. When a child or youngster is presented in the classroom, the teacher’s main challenge is to capture his attention to start a good and functional learning process.
In the last 15 years, teachers and academics, in general, have begun to bet on new software that allows them to generate that first emotional appeal in students. Thus, video games have emerged as a didactic and educational tool that has gradually changed the classroom.
Games as teaching instruments can be analyzed from two different perspectives: first, as a tool with which the student’s level of competence can be checked according to the video game’s demands. Second, as a virtual learning environment where the young person is encouraged to solve academic problems when interacting with a particular title.
The importance and impact that video games have had on Education motivated the U.S. Department of Education to focus resources to take advantage of gamification in their schools since April 2015. Gamification is a learning technique that seeks to transfer games’ mechanics to the educational and even professional environment to absorb knowledge better, improve skills and aptitudes or reward specific actions.
The fundamental aspect of gamification (also known as gamification) is that the teacher must consider what he/she wants to teach to find the video game that will serve as an instrument to motivate that specific learning. That is, if you want your students to work in teams, an excellent option is Minecraft, but if you’re going to teach history, perhaps the video game Civilization is a better choice.
A phenomenon called Minecraft Education
It is becoming increasingly common for there to be collaborations between teachers and developers to create video games specially designed for use in schools. The most prominent case is undoubtedly Minecraft Education, an educational version of Mojang’s popular and acclaimed game.
Created by programmers and educators from the United States and Finland, Minecraft Education consists of interacting within a virtual world generated by blocks, where students can build freely with the help of other players and solve survival problems typical of the video game. In this version, the teacher has total control of the virtual environment, and the activities are entirely focused on the development of skills and abilities that help the student.
Minecraft Education is used by more than 5,000 schools and colleges in almost 40 countries. It helps students solve problems and provides specific support in algebra, mathematics, programming, history, and geography.
On the other hand, some titles were not conceptualized for educational purposes, but they can fulfill this function in the classroom. Titles such as Life is Strange or Journey is excellent examples of digital experiences and environments that teach the player how decisions form relationships and how each action can affect the world around them.
An inexorable reality
Video games as an educational tool are an inevitable reality, especially considering that new generations are increasingly familiar with this type of technology. Today it is not necessary to have a console to have access to a video game. A cell phone is enough to interact with thousands of titles of all kinds of genres.
For Education, it is increasingly vital to implement new tools and teaching methods in the classroom, so it is increasingly common to find examples that prove this synergy. For instance, in Scotland, video games are used as a learning and education tool for children, thanks to The Consolarium project. It is funded by the government and aims to encourage the use of games in the classroom to develop social awareness and enhance civic and moral values such as respect for the environment or obedience to parents.
On the other hand, Rovio, creators of the famous Angry Birds, launched the Playground project for preschool children. This initiative is organized jointly with the University of Helsinki in Finland, which has already been implemented. It is not the classic edition of Angry Birds but incorporates the charismatic characters in a new educational game concept that includes books and digital teachers.
Finally, Quest to Learn is the first public school to base its learning methods on video games. It was created in 2009 in New York City and focused its teaching methodologies on gamification to develop creative thinking in its students.
Classrooms become a space for discovery, where students learn by overcoming challenges and unlocking levels, motivating them to overcome obstacles and face new challenges while having fun and learning at the same time.