Video Games in the Classroom

My initial thought in response to the concept of video games being used instructionally in the classroom is a hard no.  It seems difficult to me to imagine a scenario in which a video game involves relevant class topics and furthers students’ learnings more than any other means of teaching–that including verbal instruction and/or other technology interventions (apps, computers, videos, television/movies, presentation tools, smart boards, etc.).  They seem to me to be less oriented toward learning than any of the other topics we have discussed in class.  Moreover, I first think of video games as being more distractive than anything else.  Perhaps this is just the video game stigma clouding my judgement.

When I did a quick google search to learn more about video games in the classroom, I immediately found a compelling reason to consider using video games in my classroom one day.  In Forbes’ article, How Video Games in the Classroom Will Make Students Smarter, author Jordan Shapiro explains that video games essentially create a representation of oneself unlike most other forms of instruction.  In video games, there are two “I”s.  The “I” that is yourself, controlling the character, and the “I” that is the avatar within the monitor.  In this way, he argues that “metacognitive distance” built into the game, allowing a student to essentially think about their thinking.  He continues more specifically by citing that, “Strong metacognitive functions give students an awareness, or an understanding, of their own thought processes. Metacognitive functions provide one with autonomy or control of one’s own intellectual capacity. This matters in education because strong metacognitive functions lead to good academic skills. Through metacognitive functions, learners recognize their own strengths and weaknesses and adapt or iterate their performance accordingly.”

So, in this way, students think about why they chose certain actions within video games.  They ponder questions such as, why should I put that block there?  What are the advantages (i.e. why will this help me)?  And is there a different strategy I could use to beat this level that I just lost in?  With motivation coming from wanting to win the level furthering students’ playing, they subconsciously are learning strategies for persistence and adaptation in the face of diversity.  Maybe video games that at a glance seem irrelevant to a particular lesson do actually have a crucial place in the 2017 classroom.


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