In a world where technology is taking over, K-12 educators are looking for new and exciting ways to make their classes fun and engaging. This is being done with the help of digital learning games.
To put it simply, a digital learning game is a self-guided game that promotes a variety of educational subject matters. These games could relate to subjects such as history, math, science, and more. Instead of teachers lecturing at the front of the classroom, students are encouraged to take an autonomous approach to learning. This student-centered method allows students to generate their own knowledge and receive information through the game itself.
How Do Teachers Feel About Digital Learning Games?
The response to digital learning games was not always as positive as it is today. Many educators were hesitant to stray from the traditional methods of teaching, as it was all they knew. A study conducted by Yun-Jo An and Li Cao found teachers did not seem to fully understand the educational value of digital learning games. Within the study they worked with 50 teachers to show them the usefulness of digital games, and develop their own digital games. “Teachers were generally skeptical about the pedagogical value of digital games, partially due to their lack of familiarity with games, and they remained skeptical about using games in teaching even after playing various games.”
After introducing several different types of digital games, the teachers in this study began to see their worth and were enjoying the games at the same time. An and Cao conducted several different studies and “examined the changes in teachers’ attitudes and perceptions after being exposed to or playing (digital learning) games.” The educators’ attitudes had gone from skeptical and unsure, to positive and excited about the prospect of digital learning in the classroom.
The Benefits of Digital Learning Games
Researchers at Vanderbilt University and partners at Legends of Learning conducted their own study on digital learning games, and the effects they had on the students and their classroom environment. This research showed the comparison of students who were exposed to digital learning games and those who were not, and the results were very interesting. They showed students who utilized game-based learning out-performed those who did not, and “special education students involved in the study authored lengthier responses to open-ended questions, displayed greater confidence in the subject matter after playing the games, and achieved more than a whole standard deviation difference.”
According to ESchool News, there were 5 specific outcomes from this study revealed by the teachers:
- Deeper content games supported in-depth learning, developing investigative, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills.
- The subset of quiz-style games reinforced lessons and helped review material.
- Different types of game play simulated interest and engagement, particularly in students prone to being off-task.
- Games prompted student-led discussions, collaboration, and the sharing of knowledge.
- Simple and complex games increased confidence and content mastery.
This study also found there was a rapid increase of engagement within the classroom, teachers were a lot more enthusiastic after seeing the positive results of digital games, and there was a clear increase of student attention spans.
“The results highlight the potential of digital games for enhancing instruction, particularly in light of the teachers strongly positive experiences and interest in continuing to use games like these in the future,” said researcher and co-author Douglas Clark, professor, Vanderbilt University.
Bringing Digital Learning Games Home
Digital learning games shouldn’t only be used in classrooms. Teachers should encourage parents to promote these fun educational games at home as well. The benefits of game-based learning are clear from the multiple studies conducted. We recommend sharing the results and the positive outcomes from digital learning games with parents and guardians. This is easy to do in a simple email home, or a digital newsletter from a reliable school notification platform, like SwiftK12.
Alert Solutions has always emphasized the importance of parent engagement and involvement in their child’s education. This is one way to do so! The benefits of parental involvement include increased student success, social skills, graduation rates, and more.
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