Using video games as authentic learning tools is a controversial issue. In the past, video games were dismissed as violent, mindless, and mind-numbing, but now educators are exploring the benefits of video games for student engagement and achievement.
Today’s kids in grades K-12, also known as Generation Z, don’t know a world without the Internet and are the most tech-savvy generation. About half of them spend more than 10 hours a day online and play 30,000 hours of games by age 20. Using these statistics to their advantage, educators can better engage with students and move beyond the traditional lecture and test classrooms that our 20th-century education system is accustomed to.
Video games allow people to think in a network and not just for themselves, and they free their minds. Players can roam the digital realm and interact with anyone they meet. “The human brain is a plug-and-play device. They’re not intended to be used alone. They’re designed to be used in networks,” says James Gay, a professor of literacy studies at Arizona State University, who led it. At Stanford, I studied philosophy and linguistics.
Also, games help us develop non-cognitive skills like patience, discipline, cooperation, problem-solving and more that inform how we behave and learn. Are and ultimately, we succeed or not? You can’t get that in a traditional classroom and textbook. In many ways, the traditional classroom suppresses certain skills that are critical to human learning. For example, persistence is a choice that many games allow users to make when faced with negative performance. Instead of giving up on the game altogether, they often insist on finding a better way. On the other hand, test results are often the final decision in the classroom.
Additionally, most massively multiplayer online (MMO) games have a system of points, badges, rewards, and leaderboards to accommodate people’s various motivations and needs for communication or self-expression. Experts say the same qualities can be replicated in an educational context, where rewards can go beyond simple stars. Better questions and harder tasks can be rewards for good work.
Some aspects of video games raise serious questions for parents, but the reality is that video games aren’t going anywhere. But working with this concept, video games can be the learning method of the 21st century.