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Gaming is growing in the classroom

Photo by Imeh Akpanudosen

Video games have entered the classroom and are "increasingly being credited with improving educational outcomes," according to an article in The Denver Post on Feb. 27. New York and other states may agree.

Immersive game-based learning (IGBL) is the term and schools, colleges, government agencies and businesses are using it to teach students and employees with real-life simulations. Gaming is growing in popularity for educational and recreational purposes.

Parents interested in school and college curricula may also want to know how their children are taught.

Educational gaming examples

A University of Albany (SUNY) research study is investigating the use of games to promote learning. SUNY Games II is focusing on “immersive games to promote enhanced understanding of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) content in K-12 settings,” according to UAlbany’s website.

The following examples are cited in the The Denver Post article written by Margaret Uchner, Community College of Aurora's legal-studies program coordinator and a former deputy district attorney:

  • Ethiopia research project saw children learning to read and speak English
  • Colorado police and fire departments and emergency medical teams run simulations to gauge the effectiveness of their response protocols
  • Community College of Aurora has various simulated areas including a house, a bar, an outdoor cafe, an ambulance in which students can practice treating trauma victims or responding to an event, and are building a simulated courtroom complete with a jury box for use in the legal studies program
  • Edudemic listed 10 colleges using IGBL including the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School and University of Central Florida.

For gaming

Proponents of IGBL proffer the following reasons for it’s value:

  • An opportunity to develop new curriculum
  • Chance for students to advance real-world, critical thinking
  • Surveys show students taking IGBL classes seem more engaged, happier and more satisfied with those classes over traditional ones
  • Faculty members enjoy teaching IGBL classes

Against gaming

Those opposed to IGBL note the following negatives:

  • Cost of developing games is high and educational dollars are already stretched
  • Mass shooters like the gunmen of the 1999 shooting massacre at Columbine High School were entrenched video game players
  • Designing games that are effective is very difficult and time-consuming
  • Many parents worry their students already play too many video games at home

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