Monday, October 15, 2012

the Rewards of Gaming

These days games play a huge role in the lives of our children whether we like it or not.  Although the kids pictured above are not my own, Ive seen images like this in my household as my husband finds a new game for my daughter to play with him and my son (6 months old) sits in his chair with his own controller watching intently.  I had been against this vary situation for a while and had finally given in to the inevitable and began to actually watch my daughter and my husband interact over a good game with Dora the Explorer and what I realized was eye opening.  Not only was it engaging for my daughter but she was actually learning something from it; counting, word and letter recognition, reading comprehension, and following directions (to name a few).  In the end I learned that education can come from anywhere, even games and TV (with STRICT limitations) as actually interaction with a parent or a teacher is still a main form of education.

For a class assignment I had to think of a rational for using games for learning and it wasn't that hard to think of why its a good reason as I have a living example in my household.  I think that games can help language learning, especially for ESL students because it helps to match pictures with words for word recognition and it helps engage learning in a fun and entertaining way with both challenge and reward.  And that's only one of many benefits of using games. As I mentioned above there are several educational purposes for games that promote language learning.

After reading 10 Gaming Genres to Adapt in Class I had looked for a fun and engaging point and click game to play to see how you could use one in a classroom.  I found the game Heart of Tota and the walkthrough, the instructions, for it.  After playing the game about 10 times (I'm not addicted I swear!) I figured that although I am not sure if it has education purpose AT ALL it still has the potential to teach children something.  For example if you let the children play the game with the walkthrough (because its almost impossible to get through without it) then they have to read the instructions in order to get to the certain areas and collect and open the appropriate items so they are using reading comprehension and they need to be able to follow directions which both have an implication in language learning.

As a teacher in this situation I would simply be there to help the children when needed, but other then that I think the challenge of such a game is what makes it engaging and fun and if you take that away from them then it is unnecessary to  to use games for learning.  I believe the best way to use these games for ESL students would be in group setting so they can work through the directions and comprehension together then not only are they reading and thinking but they are actually communicating and using oral language to learn. With any kind of education you want to make sure that the children are actually learning something and the best way to do that in these situations, with reading comprehension and following directions, would be to simply assess how and if they had completed the task by looking through the walkthroughs of them.

Not only can games play a role in education but they can play a role in almost anything now.  from points and rewards points to using it for news, all of this can be read about in the article entitled gamification.  Gamification is simply defined as applying game design thinking in non-game situations to make them more fun and engaging.  So although it is my main focus to think about what will help make education and learning more fun and engaging I feel its worth it to mention that with the technology we have now we can create anything to be fun and engaging especially with the new form of gamification.  And as surprised as I am, I have to say that there are rewards of gaming.

1 comment:

  1. Several participants in the course tried this game. I'll have to try it myself. Thanks for letting me know that I would need the walk through because I get easily frustrated!