Last week our ECMP 355 class had the privilege to talk to Sylvia Martinez about educational games. From my perspective I grew up with a connection to educational games. My parents did not allow us to have a gaming system (N64, Dreamcast, or Playstation) growing up and as much as I disliked it then it was probably for my benefit. Because I did not have a system at home I formed a connection with ‘educational’ games at school such as Oregon Trail, Cross Country Canada, and my favorite…..ECOSAURUS.
As you can quickly see Ecosaurus was by no means the pinnacle of gaming however I found it to be entertaining enough and I eventually recycled enough stuff to build a spaceship and get out of there.
Listening to Sylvia I thought it would be interesting to check out some educational games that are out there today. I feel with how far a long gaming systems have come there must be some kind of disconnect between students today, with the gaming experiences they receive from Xbox360, PS3s and Wiis, compared to ‘educational games’. As Sylvia stressed usually the first thing to be lost in an educational game is the fun factor. I put this to the test and played a variety of games from Wonderville, a educational site from Alberta, focusing on one game in particular called CO2 Connection.
This game was okay, and in my Ecosaurus years I would of been enthralled. Looking at the game critically as an educator however I found that the amount and quality of content I actually learned did not really seem to justify the amount of time that it took. On top of this the game play was very easy and basically fail proof in order to move the player onto the next level. Most of the other games I played from that website seemed to follow the same trend. I’m curious to see if there are different, more effective games out there and intend to begin forming a list of ones I may want to use in my classroom in the future. Sadly CO2 Connection will not make the cut…and probably not Ecosaurus either.
This all being said I think there is definitely a place for games in education. The important thing is to be selective because although a game may say ‘educational’ in many cases they sacrifice to much in the fun or educational departments to be truly meaningful. If I can find the right game and apply it in the proper situation it will be beneficial and contribute to meaningful learning in my classroom.
In closing I leave you with a video of Ntiedo Etuk, a teacher who found a way to help his students overcome a fear of failure in math class by incorporating video games into learning.