Many people in today’s society would agree with the claim that the” negatives of video games often outweigh [the] positives” (Teacher reject “educational” video games claim), affecting things such as social life, responsibilities, and physical health. However, I believe that Video games are beneficial, and should therefore serve as supplemental teaching aids in classroom environments because it provides learners with the opportunity to learn through role-play and first hand experiences in three-dimensional worlds. These virtual worlds are what allow for the development of student collaboration skills, practical reasoning, and overall improved performance for higher level learning. This new method of supplemental instruction is what schools need today because they have the potential to significantly improve the test scores of students, and therefore raise the current level of our educational standards. Should this happen, we would see an increase in the number of freshman entering college, meaning that colleges would be gaining a larger sum of money than before, which would then be spent on school related expenditures that would soon be circulated throughout the country. With this in mind, we would also see an increase of job opportunities, which would prevent an increase in the percentage of unemployed people, therefore preventing the number of relative poverty stricken people from climbing. In theory, higher levels of education would lead to larger gains of money that could then be used for educational investments as well as research related investments in order to continually strive for the improvement of our standard of living.
Today’s students are now being referred to as the “Net Generation”. Today’s students are living in a world where technology is quickly advancing; they are growing up in a digital world. In this digital world, students are able to determine what information is useful and what information is not within a blink of an eye, where as their predecessors take in information, evaluate it, and then store it in their memory for later use at a relatively slower speed. Today’s learners use the “trial and error” method. Sometimes they must fail in order to realize that they must change things such as the way that they study, in order to become successful the second time. Digital learners also work well in groups where collaboration is key to success when solving complex problems instead of learning in isolated environments where the knowledge gained is minimal and the knowledge that is shared is zero. Learners attain their knowledge from technology. Technology is a part of their everyday lives where any information that they might seek, can be easily accessed from just about anywhere. However, some teachers do not allow them to use this technology in the classroom, thus hindering the amount of possible knowledge that could be gained through this use.
For 10% of children, learning to read is difficult due to dyslexia. Dyslexia can be defined as a “severely invalidating learning disability that affects literacy acquisition despite normal intelligence and adequate instruction” (Sandro Franceschini 462). In an experiment, tests were conducted to determine whether or not video games would have an effect on children’s reading, phonological, and attention skills after playing video games for nine sessions of eighty minutes per day. From the results that were gathered it could be concluded that video games “improved children’s reading speed, without any cost in accuracy, more so than in one year of spontaneous demanding reading development and more than or equal to highly demanding traditional reading treatments” (Sandro Franceschini 462). In addition, attention skills were also improved, which goes to show, that this kind of improvement can be “translated into better reading abilities, providing a new, fast, fun remediation of dyslexia that has theoretical relevance in unveiling the causal role of attention in reading acquisition” (Sandro Franceschini 462). This is why some organizations have begun to adopt this method of using video games as a way to help children develop certain abilities whether it be reading, math, science, music, or other various subjects.
From a scientific standpoint, scientists believe that video games are a useful supplement to aid in the teaching of students because they help to stimulate the mind. It has been proven that when there is a stimulation of the mind, oxygen becomes present in the visual regions of the brain, meaning that videogames serve as the stimulus to increased heart rate, which would then send blood containing oxygen to the brain. This stimulation of the mind is what makes games as well as anything else that requires visual engagement, more fun, and also helps students be able to recollect certain things based on past visual experiences within the game.
Three classes were tested to observe the effects that videogames had on test scores in regards to biotechnological content, and at the conclusion of these tests, Tim Barko, a graduate research assistant from the University of Florida, and Troy Sadler, a professor of education at the University of Missouri Science Education Center found that all three classes had statistically significant gains in scores. From this, they stated that video games can ” effectively support [in the] learning of core biological principles. There is ample evidence in the literature that video games are popular among learners and that they can provide virtual exposure to a broad range of experiences that would otherwise be inaccessible” (Sadler 33). From this standpoint, it is scientifically proven that videogames can, in actuality, be used as educational tools because of the fact that they do help to improve test scores.
Minecraft, for example, is a multiplayer sandbox game that is modeled after our real world. Players are able to build things using geometric objects such as blocks. Minecraft also has functioning Biology, Ecology, Physics, and Chemistry aspects in the game that make this a possible educational tool to develop the scientific literacy of players. In Biology for example, players are able to travel through a human body as a class and see the inner-windings of the vascular system, nerve cells, as well as get visual representations of animal cells through this three dimensional environment where you are free to roam in any direction and discover cellular functionalities by moving and placing blocks to replicate cellular activity. Other engaging learning experiences also include traveling through a designed map of the human body, where “your friend is sick and you/the class has to go inside his body to cure him by solving puzzles and fighting bacteria and viruses, while all the time exploring the different aspects of the human body” (Short 2). This example of using games for education makes learning both fun and engaging where students are able to visualize and learn through first hand experiences, the functions and aspects of the human body, while at the same time taking notes in order to better grasp the concept of what they are learning and later recollect this information when it comes time to taking an exam.
Another example is “Wolf Den”, a virtual learning environment where students engage in the learning and creation of three-dimensional games. Throughout the duration of the course, students reacted positively towards the use of this type of method. This is because the social presence in the online course allowed for the ability of the program to influence students’ group and individual projects in a positive manner, due to the fact that the students were able to collaborate with each other during this process. “Garrison and Anderson, [authors of E-learning in the 21st century: A framework for research and practice] defined social presence as ‘the ability of participants in a community of inquiry to project themselves socially and emotionally as real people through communication’ ” (Annetta 7). Students who had high overall perceptions of social presence scored higher in perceived learning as well as perceived satisfaction with teacher instruction. Because of the “social presence” aspect that is in educational games, this is the core of what the game should be centered around; the social aspect primarily, as it helps to improve student comprehension and retention of information.
Dr.Baek, an expert in Cyber Psychology and behavior claims that there are six factors which hinder teachers’ use of games in the classroom: Inflexibility of curriculum, Negative effects of gaming, Students’ lack of readiness, Lack of supporting materials, Fixed class schedules, and Limited budgets. After several experiments, Dr.Baek concluded that experienced teachers view educational gaming as a hindrance because of inflexibility of curriculum and because of the negative effects that gaming produces, such as addiction. And while video games been proven to be addicting, it is primarily the ethical responsibility of the educational game developers when creating these games, and to avoid making this mistake but still aim for maintaining and providing an “engaging” learning experience for each of the students.
In closing, it is now known that educational games have been proven to significantly increase test scores as well as assist in the development of reading abilities for children as well as children with dyslexia. These games have also been shown to create both a fun and engaging learning experience through the use of virtual environments while still being able to minimize the chance of any addiction case to arise. So with our world continuously advancing technologically, it is important that we are able to teach our students how to become successful by using the most up to date teaching methods so that they will be able to teach and help others in the future.
Annetta, Leonard A. Video Games in Education: Why They Should Be Used and How They Are Being Used. 2008.
Sadler, Tim Barker and Troy D. “Learning Outcomes Associated with Classroom Implementation of a Biotechnology-Themed Video Game.” University of California Press (2013): pp. 29-33.
Sandro Franceschini, Simone Gori, Milena Ruffino, Simona Viola, Massimo Molteni, Andrea Facoetti. Action Video Games Make Dyslexic Children Read Better. Padua, Italy, 18 March 2013.
Short, Daniel. “Teaching scientific concepts.” The Journal of the Australian Science Teachers Association (2012).
“Teacher reject “educational” video games claim.” The New Zealand Herald, 2 May 2012.
Figure 1 http://www.thenakedscientists.com/HTML/content/interviews/interview/1435/>