Gaming to Learn

Embracing change was the first concept that stood out to me during this assignment for my Digital and Social Media class. Students today play video games and are interested in technology so much more than in the past. I was not in high school too long ago and the interest in digital media has increased tremendously since then! So why shouldn’t education? We, as teachers, need to accept the change and embrace it as we move forward with our students and classes.

In this article, Motivating People to Learn, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi discusses the concept of Flow, which is the mental state of “when a person is completely involved in what he or she is doing, when the concentration is very high, when the person knows moment by moment what the next steps should be.” One example of a time that Flow happens is when people (kids and adults) game. As educators, it is important to connect the concept of Flow with education in order to embrace the societal change and to reach students at a level of concentration that it is near impossible to break.

There are Nine Characteristics of Flow and Eight Characteristics of Gaming. The characteristics are very similar in many ways. Both mention constant feedback, failure is okay, goals are in mind at all times, and challenging tasks. All of those characteristics are also important in education. There were others listed in gaming that I thought could be very beneficial for education, even if it’s not directly related to Flow, such as socialization and rewarding all successful efforts.

Even though gaming, Flow, and education all connect and can be compatible, I do not think that gaming is the answer to all when it comes to teaching students. Gaming can take a lot of time to set up in order to provide the best lesson for students. Even though it is a great way to reach some students, it is not the only way to reach all students. I believe the best way is to use gaming often as a supplemental tool with lessons in order to facilitate the Flow concept with students. Based on when I have used Kahoot and review games like Jeopardy or Who Wants to be a Millionaire? students are actively engaged and seem to enjoy the class period so much more than if we were not playing those games. I use those games as a reward of some sort for if students work hard, we will play a review game and they seem to respond very well.

Have you ever used games to teach a lesson in your classroom? What benefits did it have? What drawbacks were there for teaching the lesson through a game?

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