What’s a game for a teacher?

I came across this:

while many teachers say they are using digital games in the classroom, a lot of the time they just mean interactive activities or worksheets.”

With this example.

"For example, a recent study from A-GAMES, a research collaboration between New York 
University and the University of Michigan, last year surveyed 488 K-12 teachers, and 
found that “more than half of teachers (57 percent) use digital games weekly or more often in teaching.” That’s a pretty high adoption rate. But according to Millstone, “the most frequently used ‘games’ aren’t really games at all.” Teachers seem to label any 
interactive activity that happens on a laptop or a tablet a ‘game.’ The categories are unclear. To which activity does each buzzword refer? What counts as blended learning? 
What’s the difference between game-based learning and gamification?"

Teachers or administrators, who’s the real problem?

Like most debates agreeing on definitions is the starting point. Though at the moment I have a few questions first.

  • What is a game?
  • Do teachers define games differently when they use them in education?
  • Do the participants distinguish between playing a game for “fun” and playing a game in classroom?

I used games in teaching to the learners talking and thinking in English, in TEFL classes. My answer to the above three questions is that you have to remember to respect the players desire to have an outcome.

As the teacher I am not concerned or interested in who won the game, or how the players were ranked at the end of the game. I just want my lesson aims to be achieved. But if you have really engaged your learners – and this applies to adults as well as children – they will want to know their scores or at least what happened at the end. There is an need for immediate outcome: success, or failure. There is a need to compare each others achievement. They are competitive.

If “the thing you call a game” doesn’t provide

  1. an outcome – success or failure
  2. comparative performance – a ranking structure that is obvious to all participants
  3. the thrill of competition

It ain’t a game.

 

 

 

 

One thought on “What’s a game for a teacher?

  1. Nick Post author

    I came across this example of a “game”.

    “Games, even in the crib, could be one answer. Benasich and her team have devised a game toy that trains a baby to react to a change in tone by turning the head or shifting the eyes (detected with a tracking sensor). When the movement occurs, a video snippet plays, a reward for good effort.”

    This does not sound like much of a game, more of an interactive training device. In fact it sounds rather like the behaviour training devices used by Skinner to train pigeons.

    Not a game, by my definition or inclination.

    Whereas this example, in the same article, I would suggest is a game. Though I am little disturbed that this thing has to be computer controlled, this game, could easily be run as a paper, & pencil game.

    Dehaene and his team devised a simple computer game they hope will enhance mathematical ability. Called the Number Race, it exercises these basic abilities in children aged four to eight. In one version, players must choose the larger of two quantities of gold pieces before a computer-controlled opponent steals the biggest pile. The game adapts automatically to the skill of the player, and at the higher levels the child must add or subtract gold before making a comparison to determine the biggest pile. If the child wins, she advances forward a number of steps equal to the gold just won. The first player to get to the last step on the virtual playing board wins.

    The open-source software, which has been translated into eight languages, makes no hyperbolic claims about the benefits of brain training. Even so, more than 20,000 teachers have downloaded the software from a government-supported research institute in Finland. Today it is being tested in several controlled studies to see whether it prevents dyscalculia and whether it helps healthy children bolster their basic number sense.

    How to Build a Better Learner

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