Monday, January 17, 2011

Video Games and Education

Recently I've been thinking a lot about the relationship between video games and learning. More specifically, why can so many students who have a very difficult time engaging in school easily play video games, which also require intense concentration. What can educators learn from video games?

There are many different things that educators can learn from video games but here's one that I consider super important. When people play video games they know what they are trying to do. Players understand the game objectives. They know what they are supposed to do to beat the video game and they work hard to ensure their own victory. (Consider how boring a game might be if players did not know what they were trying to do. OK - such a non-descript game might be fun once in a while. But, by and large gamers like to know what they are trying to do.)

If people like knowing the objectives for which they are working, why is it that so many teachers have a hard time making learning objectives transparent?

Ask a student what they learned at school today and they'll likely say, "nothing." I'm convinced that the reason for this is not because students don't learn anything in school. Rather, it is because students cannot breakdown the vagueness of what they have learned into a meaningful sentence or two. It's not only that students can't do this. They also don't want to take the effort to do so.

Video games would likely not survive if players could not easily identify their objectives. But, of course, it's much easier for learning lessons to survive. They have a captive audience. Regardless, like good game designers, teachers should spend more time illuminating specific learning objectives for students. Curriculum developers must do the same.

Just a thought!!