Fear not, we won’t be skilling any cats with gaming in the classroom. However, the title highlights the point of this post – gaming can teach a multitude of skills, from contextual to technical and perceptual to ethical. From hidden curriculum to hand-eye coordination, and building self-esteem to saving the world.

All in a digital game you ask?

According to  proponents of gaming – yes.

Several research studies identify the following common skills pertaining to gaming :

  • critical higher order thinking
  • improved literacy
  • enhanced visual perception
  • cognitive ability development
  • collaborative problem solving/interactivity
  • conflict resolution
  • competitive responses
  • ability to operate in complex, rule-based environment

(Klopfer, 2010).

Jane McGonigal designs game specifically to create new order thinking about global complexities such as poverty and alternative environmental resources. These tools can be translated into the classroom to increase subject specific skills. (McGonigal, 2010).

However, it is important that gaming does not detract from other methods of learning in schools. Its purpose should enhance lessons, not replace them entirely. Taking this approach, several other skills become possible, spanning KLAs with cross-curricular ELAs.

Suggestions for including gaming and simulations in a lesson plan:

  • building avatars in class discussions encompassing self-esteem, women’s studies, pastoral care and PDHPE. Whilst not technically defined as “gaming” because there is no “end/win” state, these simulations are valuable in this context.
  • games that simulate natural disasters might be considered topical in the extreme. These can be used in Environmental Studies, Science, Biology, International Studies.
  • students can create their own games on X-box for Design and Technology, IT and ITC, Maths and History. Content specific games could be explored for any subject in a curriculum.
  • Food Force – an online game created by the United Nations World Food Programme

If you have attended to the concerns of administration and parents, then as a teacher, you are only limited by your imagination and resources. Each of these must be taken into consideration when designing gaming lesson plans to impart set skills in your students.

Resources

Klopfer et al. (2009) The Instructional Power of Digital Games, Social Networking and Simulations. The Education Arcade.

McGonigal, J. (2010) Gaming: Making a Better World,  http://www.ted.com.

http://www.meez.com/

Microsoft Press Release, (2006), Microsoft Invites the World to Create Its Own Xbox 360 Console Games for the First Time http://www.microsoft.com

World Food Programme, (2011) Food Force: The First Humanitarian Video Game, http://www.wfp.org

World Without Oil: Lesson Plans. (2011) WorldWithoutOil.Org, IVS Interactive, Electric Shadows Planning.

Wide Open Doors (2007), Gaming in Education, http://www.wideopendoors.net

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