Education is forever changing. As students are exposed to new technologies and trends, they adapt their learning styles accordingly, and educators must modify their instructional techniques in order to keep up. One of the technological developments affecting education in the last several decades is the video game. Gaming has not only changed the way students learn, but it has also taught them valuable skills on its own. No chicken or the egg dilemma, higher education has evolved as a direct response to those applicable talents learned through gaming.
Gaming’s Effect on Student Learning
- Gamers expect predictable structure. Most video games involve clear goals with immediate rewards, and students who play these games often expect to follow the same process when completing other tasks. To accommodate this learning style, educators can present their students with concise objectives, instructions for meeting them and a reward for success.
- Gamers are competitive. Because video games track the status of each player and allow players to compare their progress, students expect to know where they rank in educational settings as well.
- Gamers learn socially. Many of today’s most popular games, such as those played on Wii or online, are designed for multiple players. Players may work together toward a common goal, or they may compete against one another. In either case, the game is social. As a result, gamers often seek social interaction in education as well.
Lessons from Gaming
Gaming teaches students survival skills that they use in school and throughout their lives. Below are some of the most notable lessons students learn from playing video games.
- Problem solving. Most video games require players to solve some kind of problem in order to progress, whether it is a literal puzzle or a multifaceted social issue. As students continue to play these games, they learn the importance of critical thinking and logic.
- Practical skills. Many popular video games, such as Minecraft, are played online. To participate in the game, students must know how to connect to the right server and hold a live chat with other players. These skills can be very useful later in life. For example, gamers who go to college may use their knowledge to communicate with classmates online.
- Teamwork. Games often involve multiple players working toward a common objective. As the players progress, they learn to listen to one another and work as a team. These collaborative skills can be very helpful in school, as well as in most careers.
- Perseverance. Some of the most popular games take hundreds of hours to complete. Furthermore, when gamers fail a task or level, they often return to their last checkpoint. This teaches players to be patient and keep trying until they succeed.
- Goal-orientation. All educators understand the importance of setting goals. Because most video games are structured with a series of goals, students who play video games learn to define objectives and work toward them.
Though it may seem counterintuitive, gaming has actually improved the way students learn. They are more social, more dedicated and more interested in their progress than they were before gaming became popular. When educators tailor their curriculum to meet these needs, students are engaged in the learning process and instruction becomes more effective.
About the author: Zach Buckley is a freelance writer based in the Midwest. He enjoys exploring developing trends in education, technology and culture. When he isn’t reading or writing blogs, he enjoys sampling good music and good food. Follow him on Twitter! @Zach_buckley