Society envisages education as an intensely serious forum where only the disciplined, ‘bookworms’ can excel. This view has existed since time immemorial. However, it is indispensable to realize that change in education is inevitable. The use of video games, as learning tools, may sound radical in terms of change.
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However, three centuries ago, the use of airplanes for transportation sounded just as bizarre. The globalization that is washing over the world is a loaded concept (Bereiter, & Scardamalia, 1993, p. 56). It covers technological revolution, which has seen the youth adopt remarkably different pastime activities from other generations.
Today’s young people are more Internet-savvy, as compared to their parents. Expecting such youth to conform to traditional teaching methods would be unfair to them. Moreover, the world needs a different brand of professionals. The digital age requires workers to possess values such as teamwork, creativity, innovativeness, risk-taking capacities and ingenuity among others.
Video games are not necessarily the solution to this situation: they are a start, before the invention of a more effective approach. After reading James Gee’s article and watching his videos on YouTube about using video games in education, I feel strongly that it is an approach worth trying out.
Gee points out several prominent learning principles that learners can derive from video gaming that is absent in traditional learning and teaching techniques. Moreover, he supports his argument with the findings of conclusive research in related fields (Gardner, 1991, p. 7). Cognitive science supports the argument of video use in education.
Some of these principles include identity, which refers to when a player/learner assumes a certain personality that is suitable for winning the game or in the case of a biological concept, understanding the rules governing it. This enhances learning because the student can relate better to the content of the lesson. Interaction is another quality that games feature.
Unlike books that are passive and consequently tedious at times, games require the student to contribute and they either award this contribution or counter it thus keeping the student engaged. Video games give room for failure, unlike the rigid educational system that levies heavy penalties on failure thus inducing fear for risk-taking in students (Gee, 2007, p. 5).
The gaming feature that allows a player to start from the last game saved encourages a player to explore new techniques as well as trying out different alternatives of solving a single problem. If incorporated into education, it becomes a priceless learning principle because students would be at ease to create effective alternatives for better representation of different concepts (Gee, 2003, p. 76).
Video games are flexible. One can customize them to meet his / her respective needs. In education, students often struggle to adapt to an exceptionally rigid curriculum that does not necessarily address their respective needs to the fullest. Incorporating games into education would ensure the satisfaction of most, if not all, of students’ respective needs.
Diversity is a two-edged sword. Whereas it is the cause of a lot of strife in the society due to vices such as racism and other forms of discrimination, gaming provides a practical solution to all these differences in the employment of teamwork. The 21st-century workplace is diverse in terms of ethnicity, educational experience, personality types, age, and work experience differences among others.
These can become an organization’s strengths if well regulated and video games’ “customization” is a reasonable solution if properly transferred (Gee, 2007, p. 7). Games also provide a player with an agency, which is simply the freedom to choose the actions that a person takes in trying to solve a crisis. This, in turn, promotes responsibility as one more readily accepts and deals with the consequences of their action, even learns from them.
By contrast, rigid teaching rules take this choice away, which is why most students turn rebellious performing poorly. Finally, games apply a principle known as the ‘Cycle of expertise’ that begins by providing the player with challenges. The player then learns to solve these challenges and soon the methods of finding solutions become routine by repetition.
This is how a player or student learns to consolidate ideas. Then the game provides a challenge that requires the player to deviate from the routine and learn a new trick to teach him/her, need for innovativeness and to break the routine (Bereiter, & Scardamalia, 1993, p. 87). These are just some of the principles that Gee posits, and he makes a strong case for the use of video games in and out of education.
Bereiter, C. & Scardamalia, M. (1993). Surpassing Ourselves: An Inquiry Into the Nature and Implications of Expertise. Chicago: Open Court.
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Gardner, H. (1991). The Unschooled Mind: How Children Think and How Schools Should Teach. New York: Basic Books.
Gee, J. (2007). Good Video Games and Good learning. Web.
Gee, J. (2003). What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy. New York: Palgrave / Macmillan.