Categories : Weekly Blog
Video games are at their core an engaging and active medium. But what exactly makes a medium engaging or active, and how can these attributes be harnessed in education? This post takes a closer look at different kinds of media in teaching and how you can use them in your own teaching.
Read on for our thoughts:
What is meant by this is whether or not the student has an active role in the learning process. Among the least active learning activities are pure listening and watching. In the classroom, this typically means listening to the teacher or watching a documentary. While at best, this can be very effective, the problem with these kind of activities are that they are completely useless if the student is not paying attention, and easily divides students in their skills if this is a primary method of learning.
It’s not all bad. If active mediums (such as working on projects, exercises, doing group work or playing games) are the only thing in your classroom, the students will likely not be bored, but they will become tired and their minds will start to wonder. Confusingly, even this is not clear-cut: personally, I’ve had students who have happily and independently worked on mathematical problems for a straight hour, content to be masters of their own situation.
Engagement is not quite the same as activity. A consumer is completely passive when they are watching a movie, but whether or not they are engaged by that movie relies entirely on the merits of that movie. In the case of watching documentaries, films and TV shows, the process itself is exactly the same every time, only the content can vary. This is not quite so simple with written materials and other active materials.
Whenever the students get to play an active role in their own learning, there are more possibilities and potential problems. After all, engagement is natural when you get to make choices and influence your surroundings, but this opens up the opportunity to make mistakes you could not make if your learning experience were more tightly observed and controlled.
One way to counteract these kinds of problems is to go through assignments together. If you study independently and then go through the process together, you will not be left with misconceptions. Video games have the added advantage of providing constant feedback, allowing you to confront problems head-on and commit them to memory instantly. A mathematics video game will make you aware of mistakes immediately, rather than only at the end of class when you go through the exercises together.
Comics and Video Games: Inter-Mediums
This gets even more interesting with mediums that are in reality combinations of other specialized mediums. These include comics, which combine readily accessible images with the succinct power of words, and games, which really combine everything possible: visuals, sound, interactivity, active learning and limitless potential. With top-of-the-line virtual reality gear, video games can now include movement as a crucial element as well.
How can we make the most out of video games in the classroom? The natural approach is to take advantage of the greatest strengths of the medium while being mindful of its potential disadvantages. For one, video games are engaging and a highly active activity, which explains how the video game industry has grown to overthrow the film business as the number-one preferred pastime for the youngest generations.
When it comes to drawbacks, the most important thing you need to be aware of is the fact that not every game is educational. That is to say, not educational in the conventional sense. While the mature shooting game Call of Duty may teach the player some hand-eye coordination, you would be hard-pressed to find tangible Common Core skills gained from playing the game!
Just as computers, digital resources and modern textbooks came to the classroom, the educational video game is coming to the classroom to stay. With promising research and innovators backing up the educational video game, more and more schools are jumping on the bandwagon. With services such as the TeacherGaming Desk, the games and lessons are ready to go with the click of a button. How engaging do you want your classroom to be?