Using Digital Games in Teaching
What if you could send your students for a real-life treasure hunt without changing your location. What if you could have them have a conversation with “Queen Elizabeth”. What if I told you all this would be possible one day, with us changing the games we play in class from analog to digital. in this essay I will show some advantages of integrating digital games as a solid part of any teacher’s daily routine for teaching English to students of any age, background or disability and hopefully establish that updating our traditional methods with the surrounding technology can lead to a more successful and effective teaching experience both for the teacher and the student alike.
This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Sadaf D. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.
Using games and technology
Technology and information are so intertwined with our daily lives that I assume in the absence of this medium a big disaster could occur. Technology has many benefits and advantages, but the culture that needs to exist for the correct use of this fast-growing medium is falling behind, hence causing extreme misuse of a tool that could be used for a good cause. Video games are a good example of gaining a bad reputation because of bad press and public misunderstanding since most people tend to directly relate video games to violence, but then again research has proven that this assumption is wrong.
When we are in public transportation, at home, hanging out with friends or even when we just want to pass time, video games, either on our phone or on our computer comes to our rescue for people of many ages or preferences. What most people don’t realize is the power a video game possesses. Playing the right game can help to improve your normal daily skills, keeping your brain sharp and improve your problem-solving skills. Some may say that playing video games can even extend your lifespan.
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Based on a recently published article “In layman’s terms, playing video games directly affects and impacts regions of the brain responsible for memory, spatial orientation, information organizations, and fine motor skills. The study also reinforces the claim that, like exercise, playing games for as little as 30 minutes a day, can improve your life.”
Game designer “Jane McGonigal” also mentions in her Ted talk that video games (if deigned right), have the power to end world hunger within a year. Many other uses of video games are simulations to help soldiers with PTSD overcome their trauma or helping people who are struggling with a chronic disease cope with their pain. These improvements are not only about certain types of games. Any game can have a good effect on your life, even the games with a bad reputation such as "call of duty.”. It shows surgeons who play “call of duty” to have 10 percent more precision and speed than surgeons who don’t play games.
So how can a video game help a teacher?
Imagine integrating this powerful tool in your classroom, this tool will help you find out more about your students unlike anything before. Not only you will know about each student’s performance but you’ll create a safe environment for trial and error for all students to improve their skills in a safe, nonjudgmental environment. You’ll be able to get detailed analytical reports about each student and where their problems might be, not to mention you could place your students in as many fictional or real-life experiences as you wish to help them learn English faster and use it as efficiently as possible. “Game-based learning” games or “GBL” Games tackle many obstacles ranging from building confidence to keeping children with ADHD focused while teaching the subject to the students in a fun way.
And as for the tool needed for the use of digital games in a classroom, the answer is very clear. Almost everyone in the class is in the possession of mobile phone nowadays, we use our mobile phones almost constantly for many reasons ranging from checking the time, finding out about recent news, to find out how many calories we burned from our night time walk and sometimes for playing video games. With the use of even the simplest game available in the market and a mobile phone, you can measure how responsive your students are, you can find out who the strong students are and you can identify what problems the weaker students are facing. you can analyze the level of the students that are attending your class and to get an instant progress report in the easiest way possible. A good example of the use of video games in a classroom could be an “Augmented Reality Treasure Hunt” application for a group activity. You’ll be able to create the imaginary island in your classroom using just the phone's camera and asking your students to solve the puzzle to reach the treasure by just communicating in English.
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The attention span of a normal human being has dropped to only 8 seconds because of the internet and an excessive amount of material that is being published every second. if we don’t start switching our ways to a more modern approach, it won’t be long before this style of teaching is outdated, so we must update ourselves with the fast-growing world around us.
As mentioned above games possess the power to target not only one, but many aspects of our daily lives, so if this medium is placed in the right way and the right environment, it can act as a great aid to teach not only English but many other subjects.
What surprises me is the lack of creative applications for classroom-based games. Unfortunately, because of low market demand we are very limited for the number of applications available in the market for the use of teaching English, although games such as “Jumpido” are trying to break that taboo by creating fun interactive games for children, but what we need is an interactive experience for students of different ages and preferences. Market demand is the most important aspect of getting something done. It is up to teachers of the future to switch the market demand to game-based learning for getting the investors interested in creating GBL material for us.
How can it be done? With baby steps.
As a “games art development” graduate I already had the privilege of being a part of making a game to teach children with ADHD disorder chemistry and I intend to be a part of revolutionizing the teaching industry by using game-based learning in schools and English schools. It is important to break prejudice and to become one with the fast-growing world, by slowly starting the switch to digital gaming platforms especially “GBL” games to create more fun and effective English learning platform for students and teachers alike.
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