Games have become a time consuming activity, and a lot of parents are getting frustrated because their kids are using more time on games instead of something else, more useful and educational. But is it right that nothing useful or educating can come from games or is it just for entertainment? And is it a good idea to use it as a part of our education?
We see that games are being used more and more in education, many students seem to like this way of learning. I myself have to say that it is really nice to have some changes from the normal studying with reading and writing and a great way to mix up the learning methods. It’s a nice change to be able to do something and see the development instead of having to picture how it would be.
There are a lot of different games out there in the world, both good and bad. But what makes a game a good learning tool? According to Eirik Jåtten, principal at Røyneberg School, it’s important that the game is challenging and fun at the same time. He had a project where his students were able to play as a part of their classes, and the kids said it was fun because it was challenging rather then fun despite that it was challenging. Because it is challenging the kids had to work harder to get further and it made them more engaged in the game always trying to get to the next step. (E. Jåtten, 2011)
Simon Egenfeldt-Nielsen said that by learning from games students tend to remember what they learned easier. This is because they where able to see what happens, able to do instead of just reading and writing. He describes games like verbs and nouns, where the verbs were the things that happened and the nouns were the layout and graphics. What happened was important, but the layout and graphics were equally important to make sure the player didn’t get bored. (T. Andresen, 2011)
In games there is a lot of hidden learning that we don’t notice that easily. Because often we continue playing a game because we like it and think it’s fun and don’t realize and consider that we are learning something. Take for example when you are playing Sims, you are going through a family’s daily life and making them go to work to earn money, to buy a house, a car, food and so on. You are playing Sims because you think it’s fun but at the same time you are learning how to finance a family and how family life works. For example you have to make sure you take care of your children to not have them taken away from you in the same way you would have to in real life.
At school we have been playing Civilization 4 as a part of our studies, and wewere told to do tasks around and about the game. This forces us to see deeper into the game and all the time be conscious on what we are doing and why we are doing it. If I was to play Civilization 4 at home just for fun I would not have had the same understanding of the game, I would just go through without really noticing many of the details.
By playing Civilization 4 as a part of our learning plan we get to learn about different types of government, international conflicts, how a society is built up as well as problem solving and strategy. But at the same time there is a lot of hidden learning in the game. Learning that you don’t notice at first glance. At the same time the same time as we learn the obvious we also notice and learn how to be patient, accepting that we can’t always see what comes next, how it is to make decisions and that what you decide has consequences.
So is it useful to play games as a part of our education? The truth is that there are many kinds of games and weather we think about it or not, there is always something to learn. And what you learn how useful it is varies from game to game. In some games you may learn to solve math problems, in others you learn how a society works and in some the learning is more hidden. And if we can manage to use the right games in the right way it could be a good way to engage students more in their studies.
E. Jåtten https://www.utdanningsforbundet.no/upload/Tidsskrifter/Bedre%20Skole/BS_nr_2-11/UTD-BedreSkole0211-WEB_Jaatten.pdf ((Norwegian link) downloaded 11.04.14)
T. Andresen http://www.gamer.no/artikler/feature-hvordan-kan-vi-laere-av-spill/138643 ((Norwegian link) downloaded 11.04.14)
Written by Andrea – 1STA