Video Games for Educational Purposes

Video Games Used For Educational Purposes

Games are increasingly used to support teaching and learning e.g., using text adventures to assist in teaching English as a second language [ESL]. Conclusions as to the effectiveness of games for educational purposes differ; one particular review of relevant research indicated that mathematics was a subject where the use of games was usually superior to traditional classroom instruction [Effects].

However this, and several other reviews, were carried out when games were relatively primitive; fewer studies have been undertaken over the last five years, during which games have significantly increased in complexity, and often demand much greater interaction from the user. One recent study [BECTA] involved using components of six games in school settings. For example, a football manager simulation game was used thus:

“Championship Manager 00/01 was used with Year 7 and 8 pupils. Learning objectives involved interrogating databases and data manipulation. The teacher created a scenario in which a team manager (the teacher) needed the scouts (the pupils) to find suitable players according to a range of criteria. Using the database of players in the game, the pupils found the players by using a variety of filtering options.”

It does not require a great leap of imagination to extrapolate this database-oriented scenario into a more digital library and teaching-oriented scenario. For example, the scenario could be modified into that of an online database-oriented game. The pupils would then work online in conjunction with pupils from other schools, acquiring database searching, information acquisition, network communication, and information analysis skills in order to complete the game.

Experiments with the structured use of most of these games displayed a variety of positive benefits:
“Teachers in the study found that use of the games could provide motivation, develop skills and encourage collaboration. The motivating power of games and their ability to encourage cooperation were felt to support the work of schools in developing independent but social individuals.”

Further BECTA-funded work resulted in the identification of ways in which games may support formal and informal learning, in addition to guidelines for capitalizing on learning opportunities within games [Supporting Learning].

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