Level up Learning: A national survey on teaching with digital games
|Publisher:||Games and Learning Publishing Council|
This survey can trace its origins to a long history in the design of games for learning at Sesame Workshop. As early as its frst season in 1969, Sesame Street incorporated a classifcation game for preschoolers: who doesn’t know the music and lyrics from “One of These Things Is Not Like the Other?” A later segment, circa 1987, from the Workshop’s Square One TV, used a game-show format to display a panel of shirts and slacks, and asked, “How many outfts can be created?” Combinatorial mathematics was thus placed within reach of an 8-year-old.
By the mid-80s, the frst educational computer games were being introduced into classrooms. Veteran educators (and young parents) will remember Oregon Trail, Carmen Sandiego, and Rocky’s Boots, used by a small number of innovative teachers to enliven their classrooms through characters, graphics, and sound. However, the technology trailed far behind the vision of “microworlds” employing full-motion video, rich sound effects and music, as well as creative applications across the curriculum.
In those days before the Internet, the majority of schools had fewer than 10 computers. With the exponential increases in multimedia capacity and dramatic decreases in price, today’s digital games offer much more than an occasional game for reinforcement or reward alongside the “basic curriculum.” Immersive and complex games are demonstrating their potential to transform that curriculum and launch it on a new trajectory that harnesses story, simulation, and stimulation, along with competition and collaboration, to achieve higher standards and deeper learning.
This study provides an important snapshot of how far we are along that trajectory. As a single survey, its fndings are necessarily limited by sample size and self-reporting. However, two fundamental fndings should capture the attention of all educators, developers, funders, and policymakers: a majority of teachers are using digital games in their classrooms, and games are increasingly played on mobile devices that travel with their students. In sheer numbers of teachers and students using games of all types, the “games movement” is now mainstream, achieving the Holy Grail of educational innovation: getting to scale.
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