The idea of using games to teach is not a new concept, but it is one that’s constantly being reinvented and reinvigorated. Since the invention of singing the ABCs, learning through play has been a valued teaching method. Although there have been many opponents to the idea of using video games as educational tools, there’s no doubting their ability to pique a child’s interest in learning.
Over the years, the video gaming industry has been making their own contributions to education. While teachers have been increasingly utilizing technology and the internet in classrooms, it is no surprise that games are increasingly being used as a teaching tool.
To be considered an effective teaching tool, video games must fit into certain criteria such as playability, scholastic capacity, and inventiveness. Using these criteria, educators are able to determine which type of games will work best to engage and educate students and on which platforms they can be utilized.
A well-designed game should be challenging without being confusing or frustrating for the player. Games created specifically for mobile devices or for certain educational websites are often categorized by age or grade level and should be easy for those ages to navigate.
To be considered educational, a game must actually teach students a lesson or skill that fits into the grade curriculum. Whether it be word games, math puzzles, or just learning advanced motor functions, a game is only as useful as the information that can be retained by the player.
The more versatile and interesting a game is, the more likely a child will keep playing it. Games that are accessible through multiple platforms and that use multiple methods of play have been found to be more beneficial in helping students retain new information and are successful in creating repeat players.
The rise in popularity of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) programs in schools creates an overwhelming number of options to choose from. Many schools are utilizing educational sites like Starfall or are creating their own websites and apps for their students, parents, and teachers to stay connected and learn through play together.