Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Have you got game?

From a young age, Millennial students have been exposed to video games. (This picture is courtesy of Sean Dreilinger.) Some of them have spent almost as much time gaming as they have in class. Can we use this to our advantage, and incorporate games into our classrooms?

Of course we can. Even for non-Millennial students, adding games to your classroom can make learning more engaging and fun, and as long as you can connect the game back to the material, students are likely to remember the lesson much longer than a dry lecture on the same topic. Although there are many ways to incorporate games into the classroom, here are just a few ideas...

1) Using a "Jeopardy" type game for review. You can download a PowerPoint template for the game on the internet (here is one such site). All you do is enter the categories and the answers (remember, contestants must answer in the form of a question). You might want to consider Bloom's Taxonomy as you match questions to the increasing dollar amounts. This game works best with a small- to medium-sized class. With my classes of 40-50 students, I split them into teams and each team member takes a turn being the contestant. The team with the most points at the end of the session wins a prize (e.g., bag of candy).

2) Although I am a newbie to SecondLife, I've been hearing a lot about the innovative ways in which it can be sued in the classroom. SecondLife is a virtual community. Students can join for free, and create their own avatars. You can create a virtual classroom, hold office hours, or create scavenger hunts (where the clues are related to your course material). SecondLife has its own economy and social networks that students can study. For a list of examples of ways SecondLife can be used, see this handout, created by a computer sciences professor.

3) Although not a video game, Barnga is a great game to help teach intercultural awareness. It's great for use in classes where you will be discussing these issues, and should not be overlooked as a community-building tool in any class, especially those in which students will be doing a lot of group work or participating in discussions.

To read some research on the use of the games in college classrooms, check out this article from the International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education.

How do you use games in your classroom? Please share your ideas!

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