Gaming in Education: The Future of Schools

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When I mention the word “School”, I’m certain a whole load of emotions and memories suddenly come flooding back, some may be positive and some negative.

For me, while I enjoyed school, I certainly feel that there are a number of ways in which educators could capture the attention and interest of their students more.

One way in which schools want to spice up their curriculum is to add aspects of Gaming into the timetable and I think this is an awesome idea.

That’s why we are going to discuss:

Gaming in Education

The only kind of computer game I could remember from my time is this one annoying yet hilarious typing game where it teaches you how to properly use a keyboard. The game was lead by a funky, scouse goat and you meet a load of kinky animals along the way.

(If this game sounds like something right up your alley, you can try it here)

However,

That was it! The rest was left to the traditional book and paper.

I’m not trying to say that there is anything wrong the traditional way of learning, I believe we need to move with the times and accept that we are well into the 21st Century now.

The children of today have a lot more technology around them than any other generation have ever had and they probably use it more than us! So why not incorporate something that they use everyday into their education.

Teach them how to utilise the technology they need to understand in order to advance in the future.

There are a number of ways in which educators have begun planning – and in some cases, implementing – the integration of gaming and education:

Virtual Reality

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VR has the potential to reshape our lives in a number of areas. One of those is education.

Imagine, one minute you’re sitting in a classroom, the next you’re at the top of a volcano that’s about to explode molten lava everywhere!

And with a tap of a button, you can be transported from the boiling hit pit to outer space overlooking our mighty planet.

Fed up of modern day? How’s about you take the class to the 14th Century to witness the Bubonic Plague first hand.

There are an unlimited amount of places you can transport a classroom of children with VR! Do you think the school would ever accept a school trip to the top of an active volcano? I don’t think so, Ofsted would have a field day!

However, with a load of virtual reality headsets, pupils can experience great wonders of the Earth without having to put them in danger, without having to spend money on travel, without the worry of “What if something goes wrong when we get there?”.

If a child is scared, all they have to do is take the headset off. The teacher doesn’t have to carry them back down the Volcano.

Virtual Reality can transport students to places a school could never dream of taking their pupils. Having such a new and realistic experience, the children can feel more inspired to learn more about the subject.

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Queen Mary, University of London students have already begun to plan ways VR can be applied to schools and colleges.

They became European champions in Reply’s Student Technology Clash against other universities from Germany and Italy for their ideas with adapting the curriculum.

Adnan Salehin, University Student stated that their team won as their idea was the most “achievable and doable in their lifetimes”. Other teams had constructed ideas that were “a bit less practical or less necessary”. Gaming in education has the potential to make a massive difference.

VR in Education is achievable, executable, revolutionary in terms of changing the way we learn and extremely useful

Virtual Reality in the classroom could be a fantastic solution for Visual Learners.

Visual Learners are more likely to remember things they’ve seen rather than things they’ve heard. For example, they will remember facts more easily if they read them and/ or write them down rather than someone telling them.

So, for some Children, listening to a teacher isn’t enough.

By using Virtual Reality and the visual learners seeing the reality of outer space before their eyes, they’re much more likely to remember what they’ve learnt.

The Limitations with Virtual Reality

One thing that educators need to consider before implementing virtual reality into classrooms is:

How will teachers maintain control while the children use the headsets?

Being fully immersed in VR means that their hearing and sight will be compromised. In other words, it will be as if the teacher isn’t there.

One idea they could consider is designing a specialised app for the children to use and for the teacher to control. This way, once the teacher is satisfied that the pupils have seen enough, they can direct a message onto everyone’s screen for them to take the headsets off.

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Another thing to consider:

How will the children learn anything while using the headset?

The pupils won’t be able to hear the teacher while using it so how can they make the experience educational?

With a specialised app for schools, it could be designed in a way that when children look at certain objects, facts can pop up on the screen for them to read. If the school possess more advanced technology, the children could walk to the object, pick it up and even physically manipulate it.

To confirm that the children have learnt something, there could be a quiz afterwards to test their memory.

The final limitation:

How will schools afford it?

As you may be aware, VR isn’t cheap. School’s could start with cardboard headsets to open up the children to VR but for a more realistic experience, a higher end headset would be needed.

This is not something with an easy fix seeing as the government sets aside less and less money for education.

Virtual Reality won’t be the only way to influence school kids.

Minecraft: Education Edition

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Teachers have already begun to use Minecraft with children.

Minecraft: Education Edition is one of the first ways schools have embraced for the impact of 21st Century Children.

Fact: Kids Love Minecraft! I do too! The amount of creativity it permits us to unleash is phenomenal. That’s why teachers love it.

School Children are handed an empty canvas and are told to construct things in the world of minecraft. Work can then be assessed with screenshots of their creation as well as hand drawn plans.

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This can teach Children a whole number of skills:

  • Planning – Children learn to design their sculpture before building in order to understand the importance of designs, planning, and self-written instructions.
  • Creativity – Seeing as Minecraft doesn’t exactly hold to the laws of physics, these Children won’t walk out of the classroom as fully fledged Structural Engineers. However, it can teach the fun of building and inspire Children to want to follow that path in the future. They learn the importance of scale and ratio as well as the productivity of each material they use.
  • Computer Skills – they learn to control the world of minecraft as well as simple functions like print screening and sending submissions.
  • Assessment – Teachers can easily assess the progress of each child through written questions based on the task in the game, drawings of their creation as well as the creation itself.

The Limitations of Minecraft

While Minecraft is one of the best things to make its way into the classroom, it still has its downsides:

Cost

Each child would need an up to date PC in order to play the game with a licence to play the game and a PC per student definitely won’t prove cheap.

Saying this, schools usually provide some sort of IT services but if these computers had Minecraft, how would schools limit the amount of time students play Minecraft for in breaks when other students may require the computer?

Loss of Attention

Minecraft is an Empty canvas. So what is to stop the child messing about on the game doing what they want? Of course, they could be punished and not allowed to use the game.

But there is also the problem of the teacher maintaining the child’s attention while they are playing the game. If I was in that classroom, I would find it fairly difficult to stop playing and listen to the teacher.

Maybe if teachers had a main computer that could lock everyone else’s computer so they could get everyone’s attention, they wouldn’t have a problem.

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Training

Obviously the teacher will need to know how to use Minecraft in order to teach which will mean more training for staff will be needed.

If you’re a teacher wanting to find out more about Minecraft in Education, click here.

After discussing only two ways in which we can reshape our current education system, we have already been shown multiple positives and negatives for this.

Here is an awesome infographic which lists all positives and negatives of Gaming in Education as well as ways it has already been implemented:

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Especially after seeing this graphic, it would be awesome for gaming to make its way in class to

  • Spark Interest
  • Increase Engagement
  • Improve learning styles

Do you know of any ways for games to make it into the curriculum? Let us know!

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