Educators embrace gaming in the classroom

Posted on Thursday, 1/23/2014 8:53 AM

From educational apps to the simulated virtual classroom, educators have a myriad of options for introducing digital gaming into their instruction. While some teachers may be skeptical before introducing virtual gaming into their educational space, several schools have allowed and even encouraged use of these devices within their halls.  

Joli Barker, a second-grade teacher from Texas, spoke at the Texas Computer Education Association conference in February about the benefits of gaming for a student's education, according to eSchool News. 

"In the world of gaming, the very elements of struggle, challenge and failure that discourage kids in the classroom become the primary drivers of engagement and achievement," Barker said.

There are several ways in which interested teachers can implement this student software in the classroom, following the success stories of instructors across the country who have successfully done so.

Video games in the classroom
Students who play video games such as Minecraft, Angry Birds and World of Warcraft may be reaping significant educational rewards, according to a recent eSchool News article. Video games have the potential to help develop a wide array of skills for children, including spatial reasoning, problem solving and teamwork.

One instructor from North Carolina, Lucas Gillispie, found a way to structure his curriculum around the popular fantasy role playing game, World of Warcraft, and even launched a program to help other teachers incorporate Minecraft into their classrooms.

Gillispie told the source that these interactive games provide students with versatile skills that will help them in their futures, including developing leadership abilities. 

Specifically, the game World of Warcraft provides students with quests that can challenge different aspects of a child's education, including quests that require kids to study riddle poetry and several that cause children to face ethical dilemmas.

Gillispie noted that during one of his classes, a group of children found a way to cheat another player out of money. After being told of the moral ramifications of that action, the children took it upon themselves to write an apology to the player.

"It was a moment for us to teach some morality in the virtual world," said Gillispie.

Tablets as instructional devices
In addition to computer-based video games providing educational opportunities, there are several gaming apps that allow students to incorporate virtual education and curriculum requirements. While some apps exist purely to introduce children to different school topics, gaming apps take this instruction to the next level by testing student knowledge and adapting to skill sets as they progress.

Several apps have been created thanks to grants from the Department of Education, including a large number of PBS apps.

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