Category Archives: educational games

How games can work in the classroom

While the use of educational technology is a great way to prepare students for the future, none of that is possible without a good teacher. However, teaching and learning should not just be about academic content and retention – it should involve other ways of learning that differ from the traditional “sage on the stage” classroom model.

One method of moving away from a top-down practice of teaching is by incorporating video games into the classroom. While some may see it as a distraction, video games can actually be useful in the classroom because they encourage students to understand knowledge not just through memorization but through interaction. Of course, in order for video games to be effective, teachers will need to continue working directly with students and can then use games as a supplement that increases one-on-one learning.

ST Math – otherwise known as “Jiji math” due to its penguin mascot named Jiji – is just one example of successful game implementation in the classroom. Created by the MIND Research Institute, ST Math provides a fun game-based program that teaches math without using words. The company’s founder, Dr. Matthew Peterson, says his company stays successful by incorporating three classic principles of good teaching:

  1. Interactivity. The students need to come before the curriculum and learning needs to be interactive in order for students to create their own solutions. Rather than having students regurgitate information learned in class, they should be able to generate their own answers in order to have higher retention.
  2. Informative feedback. Unfortunately, the majority of educational games lack in offering feedback other than simple rewards and scores that are no different than standardized test results. Informative feedback provides instant explanations about why an answer is right or wrong so that students can learn from their mistakes.
  3. Intrinsic motivation. The cost of providing informative feedback is that students are no longer motivated by rewards. However, this may not be a bad thing – rather than being motivated by gold stars and smiley faces, students are now motivated to solve the problems instead of just passing the test.
Check out MindShift’s original article, “In the Bustling, Interactive Classroom, A Place for Digital Games” and check out their guide to games and learning here. Educators, how do you use games in the classroom? Let us know in our comments section or on Twitter!

Julie Evans featured at this year’s Serious Play Conference

What: Julie Evan’s presentation, “By the Numbers: New Research on Games & Learning,” at the 4th Serious Play Conference
When: July 22nd at 10:30am
Where: SCI 108 within the USC School of Cinematic Arts

The Serious Play Conference is a leadership conference for professionals who embrace the idea that games can revolutionize learning. Produced by the Serious Games Association, an international organization for everyone in the serious games industry, the Serious Play Conference will be held at USC from July 22nd to July 24th.

This year, Julie Evans is a speaker at the Serious Play Conference and will be presenting “By the Numbers: New Research on Games & Learning,” which features data from Speak Up 2013. If attending, don’t forget to take the conversation online and mention @SpeakUpEd and @ProjectTomorrow!

Educational Media’s Biggest Users

If you visit the education category on the iTunes and Android app stores, you may notice that several of the apps consist of basic spelling, counting, and coloring. Given that these apps are geared towards young children and even babies, it is no surprise that children from the ages of 2 to 4 are educational media’s biggest users.

“At a younger and younger age, kids are accustomed to using [televisions and mobile devices],” said Victoria Rideout, the author of the report that explains the findings by the Joan Ganz Cooney Center. “Companies see this trend and are creating much more content that is for the very youngest kids and marketing that content as educational.”

However, the large use of educational media drops once children enter school. While children between the ages of 2-4 spend an average of one hour per day watching television or using online programs, this number drops to fifty minutes per day for 5-to-7-year-olds, and to 42 minutes per day for 8-to-10-year-olds. Furthermore, while 13% of 2-to-4-year-olds use devices for educational activities, only 6% of 8-to-10-year-olds do. The study explains that when children enter school they are able to access more smartphones, game consoles and e-readers, and are therefore more easily distracted by video games and other online entertainment that do not contain educational material.

Are you surprised by this information? Let us know your thoughts by commenting on this post! To read the article “2-to-4-year-olds are most frequent users of educational media, study finds” by Cecilia Kang (The Washington Post), click here. To learn more about the Joan Ganz Cooney Center, click here.