Sunday, February 14, 2010

Classroom Computer Games

It should be noted that children at play are not playing about; their games should be seen as their most serious-minded activity. --Michel de Montaigne, philosopher

(This blog post is an assignment done in response to a study conducted on the reasons video and computer gaming is or is not effective in the classroom)

“Playing and studying are not incompatible activities,” according to a study published on The article, titled Educational Video Games Effective In Classroom If Certain Criteria Are Met, explains that video games can be a complementary tool in the classroom as long as the game is designed with three important elements: the possibility for evaluation, adaptability and ease of integration (

The possibility for evaluation means that teachers must have some method of monitoring and evaluating all interactions that students have with the particular game. This means that in addition to supervising computer/video game activity in the classroom, teachers must somehow be able to measure any and all game play (with the particular teaching game) that happens in the home or any other out of classroom environment. This of course, provides an obvious obstacle. The idea behind this, however, is that teachers need to know how students react specifically to the game, the rate at which they progress, and how each individual student’s grades are positively or negatively affected by the game.

Adaptibility means that the game should be able to fit the “specific education needs of each student.” This also provides an obstacle to gaming in the classroom. Some students are visual learners, some are auditory, some learn by being shown something while others learn by acting things out themselves: each student has a different way of learning that the computer game may not encompass.

Ease of integration, or standardization, means that the game should perform on different platforms and should be easy to work into the current curriculum. Inflexibility of the curricula and aligning games with the curricula are two negative factors that are mentioned in the study “What Hinders Teachers in Using Computer and Video Games in the Classroom?” which is posted on elms. Inflexibility was listed as the strongest factor keeping the study participants from using computer or video games in their classrooms.

Some companies have picked up on this specific problem and are manufacturing products to help ease the difficult to integrating games into current classroom curricula. PlayingToLearn ( is a book that offers lesson plans that focus on or center around specific educational computer games. These lesson plans, in correlation with different games may serve to be the perfect combination of fun and education that students need. The study on elms says that “games have an attractive element that engages players.” This element may be what some students need in order to fully immerse themselves in different subjects, lessons or skills, and could be a definite reason to include the use of video games in the classroom.

Although there are obvious downsides to classroom gaming in addition to the obstacles standing in the way of integrating this into the classroom, there are studies that laud positive effects of video game usage. Resource management, multitasking and on-the-spot thinking, hand-eye coordination, spatial sense and math skills are several of these advantages listed in the article The Positive Effects of Video Games on Children, posted on ( These skills will most probably help students in other endeavors, making the games a useful addition to any curriculum.

I believe that video or computer games can and should be used in classroom settings, though at a well-monitored and completely supervised pace. This should also not be a daily thing; maybe two or three times weekly tops. Video and computer games should be something that complements the lessons being taught by the teachers, not something that replaces them entirely. The combination of the two can provide a fruitful learning environment for younger students ( I do not see the point of using said games in a high school or even a late middle school environment).

I personally played computer games that helped with my math when I was younger. Math Blasters, Math Adventures, Math Shop. All games that were used as a supplement to lessons, classwork and homework. I do think that with the right preparation, the right games can be an extremely effective classroom tool. Probably best to leave Grand Theft Auto at home...

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