Playing to Learn: Educational Video Games

The use of video games in K-12 classrooms is expanding rapidly.

Why ?

From SimCity offering reality-based experience to teach critical thinking to Portal 2, teaching physics in a virtual world, the opportunities that video games provide for teachers and students are swiftly increasing in number. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, kids spend an average of 7.8 hours per day using entertainment media - so is it any wonder education is moving in the same direction?

After all, the world of educational video games could almost be seen as paralleling the education system itself. Both have clear goals, boundaries, and rules; both seek to foster useful cognitive skills; and both seek to engage their audience as well as benefit them.

So, why use educational video games?

Alternative Learning

Video games are:

Ideal for reaching students with different learning styles
Combine visual, auditory, and kinesthetic components
More immersive than a reading or a lecture
Cover a wide range of subjects

However, the key to using video games effectively and efficiently in the classroom is meticulous planning. As mentioned above, these programs have significant differences and thus some work better to reaching certain teachers goals than others. Minecraft, for example, is a world-building game, perfect for teaching the logic and problem-solving skills necessary for learning computer programming. But while it may be a fantastic solution for that particular subject, there are many subjects that it simply wouldn't be compatible with.

More Than Just a Supplement

In a recent USA Today article, it was pointed out that one of the biggest advantages of video game learning is that tests are almost always built into the game. Master the game and the topics are mastered along with it. Traditional learning has a finite beginning and end to every learning experience, while in learning through gaming the experience can continue on and continue to be built upon while employing the same developing skills.

The goal of any instrument of supplemental learning is of course to teach more than what is learned in the classroom. Whether in or out of a teachers supervision, supplementary learning, as demonstrated through the use of video games in the classroom, extends and deepens the learning experience. The prominent difference between these types of tools and textbooks or worksheets being that they are engaging. And an engaged student will always, always learn more than a bored one.

About Standard Deviants Accelerate: Standard Deviants Accelerate is an online teaching site that helps struggling students excel. For the last 20 years the Standard Deviants have been producing award-winning educational resources and, today, Accelerate has taken this expertise online with fast-paced streaming videos followed by a variety of assignments to accomplish our mission of helping every student succeed!

About the Author: Briana Wilvert is a sophomore at New York University and SDAs resident social media expert and blogger. Providing a students perspective on the world of education technology.