As engaging as computer games

In Uncategorized on January 24, 2012 at 9:40 pm

Let me start of by saying that I am not one of those who advocates  that all teaching should be done through a games environment but I do believe that games do have their place in education but like all things it is the ‘right tool at the right time’. Those of us who have watched children and teenagers in particular will be very aware how engrossed that they get when inovlved in computer games. They will play for hours and often not making any real progress, probably trying the same level or activity time and time again, yet if we compare this to the way that they approach work in schools we dont seem to get the same approach. So my question is why is it that they can focus on these activities for sustained periods of time (in many cases longer than is really healthy!), accept failure as part of the process, show a willingness to keep trying until they get it right and the the determination to succeed. Aren’t many of these atributes the same as the ones we are looking for in learning? If the answer is yes then how do we harness this? I don’t believe that playing computer based games or simply by  putting content on to the internet will solve the problem but i think that if we are going to turn children into life long learners we need to find a way to make learning as engaging as computer games appear to be.

What are the key features of these games that engage students – challenge, interaction, immediate feed back, rewards, progression, competition (perceived or otherwise) and success. If teaching can harness some or all of these features then I feel we have a chance of engaging learners in the same way that the games do, we have to move away from a ‘TV’ approach of delivery. Again those who have teenagers will be very aware that they don’t engage with TV unless they other things going on and are often not there most receptive in this mode, try asking one what the show was about or see how long they will actually concentrate without doing something else  such as text, BBM or check out Facebook.

What students want is to be stimulated, engaged and challenged not just to be static, passive receivers of content. So lets take a lead from computer games and lets see how we can  apply these principles to what we do and see what difference that makes.


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