Video games in the American education system.
This article is going to discuss the opinions of teaching professionals regarding the use of video games in classrooms in the United States, since these are the paradigm of how we want young people to study (motivated and involved). Despite focusing on one geographic area, certain conclusions can be extrapolated to other countries.
Why we chose these studies is to see whether schools wish to integrate an education platform based on video games and to know whether video games are keeping the curriculum in mind.
The current situation in the classroom.
It’s a good idea to begin by knowing what the current situation in classrooms is, as well as how integrated technology is in schools. The survey question “What devices are within reach of students?” is answered unanimously by teachers and administrators; the top 3 devices are desktop computers, laptop computers, and tablets. However, administrators are more optimistic than teachers. In all three cases, administrators believe that students have better access to devices than teachers do. This gap is widened in the case of tablets, where 67% of administrators claim they’re available to students, while only 49% of teachers do.
Along with administrators, more than half of school districts have implemented a 1:1 ratio: one device per person. Almost half of teachers (49%) believe that there are possibilities for students to work in 1:1 environments, mostly in computer labs.
Despite this estimation, according to the report, the conclusion that was reached is that there are many different realities. One the one hand, it’s very strange to find a 1:1 ratio. Also, computer labs that do bring up this proportion are only visited on average twice a week. There are also labs that have two computers per student, and still others that have only a few machines for the whole class.
In order to alleviate these problems, teachers and administrators have tried different methods:
- Expand the opening hours to before and after school
- Alternative homework
- The community must guarantee access, as in the case of libraries
- Some students bring their own device
- Homework can be done at school
- All students get their own device
- Telecoms offer discounts for access.
Teachers have expressed that they can’t spend too much money on digital material for their classes. Over half, 56%, claim that they spend less than $50 a year, while 30% spend between $50 and $250. Normally, teachers don’t have the budget for their initiatives (budget items are set and approved at the district level), so they look for resources that fit in their budget and try to find free resources.
Knowledge and use of video games.
In order to be able to implement material of content focused on video games in the future, it’s important to find out the level of knowledge educational professionals have about videogames.
The question “What can games be used for?” gets many varied answers. Half of administrators and teachers believe that video games can be used to teach ideas and complicated subjects. One quarter of those two groups thinks that video games can be useful to get kids interested in boring or complicated subjects, but that they can’t substitute textbooks. Just over 10% believe that they’re good for explaining simple concepts as well as developing certain skills. Finally the rest are divided among those who think video games “are a fun reward” to “appropriate for personal use but not at school” to “not useful for education”.
According to the data gathered by the survey, close to 15% of educators use video games daily, and another 36% weekly. This percentage of teachers who use video games weekly does so for different reasons that are highly complementary: 77% use them in basic instruction, 37% to help other topics, and 30% for learning evaluation.
With so many educators believing that there is a place in school for video games, one has to ask a couple questions: Why aren’t video games used more in teaching? What would get teachers using them more?
More than 60% of teachers said what they would use them more if:
- They had an attached platform to follow the students’ progress
- They had the possibility to have evaluation built into the game
- The game is based on searching for data
- There was a list of video games approved for teaching that followed the curriculum
- The game was based on state educational standards
- The video games were connected and went hand-in-hand with the teacher’s goals
- If they were free
- If they had tests to get the students to want to get a higher score
- If there were more research on their effectiveness.
It’s interesting to contrast the teachers’ answers with the administrators’ to the same question:
- If there were research proving their effectiveness
- If they evaluated 21st century computational skills
- If there were a dashboard for teachers
- If they followed state standards
- If there were a platform for administrators
- If the video games were related to other material and connected to educational goals.
- If there were a list of video games approved for teaching, which followed the curriculum.
- If they could be used on snow days
- If they could create personalized reports
- If they were fun for children as well as educational
- If they could know exactly how long a video game would take.
One factor to keep in mind in the case of putting video games into schools is that these will be used by teachers and bought by administrators, so the developers must have both parties’ interests in mind.
The situation of the teachers who are using vide ogames in classrooms is curious. According to the Joan Ganz Cooney Center survey, there are four types of gamer-teachers:
The Dabblers play videogames less assiduously than their colleagues and show relatively low levels of comfort using video games with students. For these teachers, there are moderate entry barriers for them to using videogames, along with the lack of support from parents, administrators, and other colleagues.
The Players are regular and enthusiastic players, but they teach with video games only as often as the previous groups, a few times a month. Curiously, they show lower levels of comfort teaching with video games. They also see too many barriers and not enough support from parents, administrators, and colleagues.
The Barrier-busters play video games regularly, and use video games with their students at least once a week, and are very comfortable doing so. Despite finding barriers along the way, they take better advantage of opportunities and use a variety of games and devices to both teach and evaluate.
The Naturals also play rather frequently, as much as the previous group. They take using games in the classroom as a given, and not only do they not see it as innovative, they think games are just one tool among many.
As far as we can tell from the data, the seeds for using video games in the classroom have been sown. Apparently, there is now a majority that is willing to integrate them with conditions that are acceptable as well as logical.
However, there are several factors that must be developed. On the one hand, teachers need to be trained, and in the US, there are several different ways to go about it. One of the most interesting is being developed at MIT, which gives teachers different courses at all levels in areas concerning the integration of video games, programming, and complex systems that they can then use in their classes.
On the other hand, there’s a lot of work to do from a technical point of view, which is work developers need to do. In the world of Richard Culatta, the IT Education Director at the US Department of Education: “I think the education community is ready to really use technology in innovative ways, … But I think we are largely dependent on the people who are building these tools and solutions to provide apps that meet educational needs.”
Finally, the biggest problems are economical: the budget, resources, and the age of the equipment. There’s also a socio-economic component, since there are children that can continue playing at home, and others who can’t. Fortunately, we at WiMi5 are taking care of that, guaranteeing free access to creating and using educational content.
25/05/2016 / Markel Orozko / 0
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