Friday, May 8, 2015

The Future is Now, Educational Gaming


Picture of MinecraftEDU cell by  minecrafteduelfie
Throughout the years, education had been taught through a very standard system in each classroom. Usually a traditional class would consist of notes, homework, quizzes, and tests. Now, there’s nothing wrong with boring your students to death every now and then, but eventually it affects the students motivation in the classroom. When their motivation for school drops, so does their motivation for their future. Now at this point you may be wondering how to fix the generic school setting, well don’t worry, there is a silver-lining. This glimpse of hope in the future of education will start with revolutionizing the way we utilize computers in school. Although we may use computers here and there to write essays or search up the definition to something, the best way to capture a student’s attention and motivate this student is through educational gaming. You may bethinking, “the last thing I want is my child playing video games instead of learning.” Believe or not, while gaming can become a distraction for children, “or simply a form of entertainment”, it can also be used for educational means. Educational gaming can be used in all kinds of different subjects to help students understand the material handed to them in an entertaining and educational way. Instead of lecturing kids about the colonization of America, you can create a virtual world for the kids to experience it themselves through the help of MinecraftEDU (Education). Instead of having kids peer edit other kid’s essays, you can drop them into a game that gives special powers to the kids whose essays were voted the best on World of Warcraft (World). Instead of trying to teach kids the alphabet by making them sing a song over and over again, you can introduce them to ABC.mouse and have them teach the kids in a fun and interesting way. Educational gaming is not only the future for the classroom, it’s the future of our world because it will help children prepare for the mostly technological jobs in the future. Along with this, it will also help them discover their own path to learning and really find out what works best for them.

Minecraft is a simple game where one is dropped into a virtual world and is forced to survive through building, hunting, collaboration, and the occasional fighting of a dragon. As soon as this game was created, it potential was realized by educational gaming experts around the world. This game encourages kids creativity and problem solving through many experiences in their endless adventure. These experts wanted to cultivate this creativity and utilize it for educational purposes, thus MinecraftEDU was created. MinecraftEDU is a more complex version of Minecraft which allows teachers to create worlds and quests that revolve around the topic they're studying. As an example, a physics teacher could have students drop a block of sand and observe how it falls. After this, thestudent must explain how gravity played a role in why the sand dropped and the certain rate at which it dropped. If you’re a digital citizenship teacher, you could drop your students in a survival environment and teach them the importance of collaboration and respect for one another through various tests. Or, if you’re a history teacher, you could create the ancient city of Pompeii for your students to discover. As these examples show, a simple game like Minecraft can be transformed to create a fun learning environment that captures the attention of the student. Through MinecraftEDU, students will be challenged towards learning new material but I can guarantee you, grades will improve because students will be more motivated towards learning these fun and engaging topics.

World of Warcraft
Along with MinecraftEDU, there are other games that can be used for educational purposes. One of these games is World of Warcraft. Generally speaking, World of Warcraft is an open world multiplayer game with cool quests, leveling up, and playing against other people. People can join guilds, little communities in World of Warcraft, where you can get help on a current quest or trade items with the other members. This guild system has been modified to fit the classroom. Students can create and join guilds where they can compare papers about their favorite parts of the game or more school-related topics like a current book they’re reading. The person with the best paragraph would win various World of Warcraft related prizes which would help them level up their online character. Along with this, teachers can also design school-related quests where the student has to complete questions based on the curriculum they’re learning to complete the mission. World of Warcraft engages students with their own online character that they’ve created (World). It helps motivate them towards learning the material taught in class so that they can level up their character.

Both of these games can be implemented in the classroom, but what about before your child starts school? ABCmouse is a great website which combines fun and learning for kids of a young age. It helps them achieve a head start before joining school by teaching them the alphabet, math, science, and many other subjects. With these skills already learned before starting school, kids can feel more confident in their abilities and will be well prepared for the classroom. A lot of parents are worried that the internet is a bad place for their children, but ABCmouse proves that there are many benefits to introducing your child to the online world at a very young age. Along with learning basic school skills, since ABCmouse is a website, it also teaches computer skills to children. Since children are introduced to the computer at the young age that they are, it's easy for them to learn these valuables skills for the future with the growth of technology. Overall, ABCmouse is a great website for both introducing your child to computer skills and helping them prepare for school so that they don’t fall behind.

With all of these positives about educational gaming, there are bound to be some negatives involved. Most people who don’t support educational gaming believe that these games will distract the students from school and will set them up for failure. Along with this, there also are students which don’t regularly play video games and aren’t as interested as others, or there are also teachers that don’t know how to set up the video games. The cost of bringing educational gaming into the school is also very expensive because of the price of fast computers nowadays. I don’t believe that kids will be distracted from video games, instead quite the opposite.Even though not every kid loves to play video games, the majority of these kids would prefer that over a boring lecture anyday. To teachers who aren’t very skillful with computers, don’t worry because most of these games make it really easy to customize the game to your liking. I can’t deny that the price of educational gaming is high, but it's for the purpose of education. If there is a way to improve grades and motivation for your students, then I say take it. With all these great games like MinecraftEDU, World of Warcraft, ABCmouse and many more, it shows that there is much to come from educational gaming. Instead of being bored to death by the generic lectures and other class activities, these games help cultivate the student’s attention by creating a fun and entertaining environment for them to explore. When students love doing their work, it shows in the quality of it. If they love studying for tests, then they’ll get better test grades. If they love doing they’re homework, then they’ll understand the material better. If they love listening in class, then they’ll know more about the subject at hand. This is what educational gaming is all about. The goal of it is to combine learning and playing so that students feel motivated towards completing their assignments, doing their homework, and listening in class. Educational gaming can be a very helpful tool if you truly wish to both teach kids necessities and life and prepare them for the future that technology awaits for them.

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Conclusion, Updated[28,May,2015]

Educational gaming is the future of learning and education, because it can cultivate a kid's attention to motivate them towards achieving their personal goals in each class, and eventually in life. This relates a lot to digital citizenship because as computers are introduced to the classroom, while there is a lot of fun to be had, kids also have to be taught manners and respect as well as cooperating with one another. While I still hold firmly to my ideas about the controversial topic of educational gaming, the comments from JX and Shelley Schanfield really opened my eyes more to the negatives that educational gaming can have on certain students. One particular point from JX on how kids with learning issues can have a hard time paying attention to video games was a really great point and I never thought of it that way. JX's article that he sent me was also a great help to researching more about the cons of educational gaming in order towards respond to his comment as well as Shelley Schanfield's comment. Also, on a more positive note, I thought that Ashley Nelson's comment was really helpful and I loved the article she sent me. I really loved this project and I hope that I helped more and more people understand the importance of educational gaming. At the start of this blog project, I was a little bit skeptical of this project because it seemed really long and boring. However, as I chose my topic, I began to realize the true potential. Overall, in the end this project was really fun and I was really happy to help people open their minds up to this controversial topic.

9 comments:

  1. Bravo. We can't learn everything through games, but they are a great tool to expand understanding and exercise problem-solving skills.

    (Not that I'm endorsing Grand Theft Auto!)

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    1. Hi Ms. Schanfield, It's great to see your open mindedness to the world of educational gaming. I agree with you that we can't learn it all from video games, and there are definitely some video games that don't teach you anything at all, like Grand Theft Auto as you previously stated. Besides that, it is nice to see that you can understand the value in some educational games, as they can be a great tool for learning. I also agree with you that video games are especially great for problem-solving and understanding some new curriculum. Games like MinecraftEDU and others are great tools for these two topics. I would like to thank you for taking the time to read and post a comment on my article.

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  2. Jonathan, thank you for sharing this look at the positive side of gaming and the many educational benefits that video games can provide. Just this week a story was published about the potential to use video games to treat ADHD, rather than pharmaceutical drugs. "...[F]or the past few years, a small group of psychiatrists, researchers, educators, and game designers have run a quiet but intense footrace to become the first to earn FDA approval for a medically sound, prescription-strength video game for ADHD. That’s not a metaphor. They are seeking approval for a game that a doctor can actually prescribe." One more thing that video games may be able to accomplish if we just think outside the box! You've done a nice job of showing that games aren't just about entertainment.

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  3. Hello Jonathon, You did a great job writing this blog. I like how your topic is a controversial topic about how gaming can be educational and help with kids creativity, and problem solving.I also found another interesting article on the topic that you may enjoy reading Video Games & the Future of learning. I think it is good article and i think you would enjoy it because it is on the topic.

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    1. Hi BowdenE, thank you for taking the time to read and comment on my article. I really hoped that you enjoyed reading it as much as I did writing it. I read the link you sent me and I really like it. Educational gaming, like you said, can be a very controversial topic but I'm glad to say that its slowly progressing into more and more schools. Once again I would really love to thank you for taking the time on this article and I hope you have been inspired to dig deeper into this topic.

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  4. Hi Jonathan, I think your blog is very interesting. I never knew video games could be so useful. I like your part where you talk about how a more fun learning environment would give students more motivation. I noticed that EPICHippos77's blog is very similar to yours. I think you may find some of his ideas interesting and find that they relate to your blog as well. I also found another interesting article that talks about the pros and cons of having video games at school. I really enjoy your blog and think it is very well written. Thanks for teaching me something new. -Ashley

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    1. Hi Ashley, thank you for taking time out of your busy day to focus on my article. I read EPICHippos77's blog and I found that it was very interesting and there are definitely some points that this blogger declared much better than I did. I also read the article you sent me on the pros and cons of having video games at school. This article will really help me because I personally believe that my con argument could use some more detail. Once again I would like to thank you for taking the time to comment and read my blog. I've found this comment very helpful and I hope your blog has much success.

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  5. Hello Jonathan, I like your idea of educational gaming. I have to admit that educational gaming is an innovative idea and very eye-catching. However, in my opinion, the game distract the students, so they pay more attention to the games themselves rather than the ideas than the games want to give. Here is a interesting article about disadvantages to educational gaming. In my experience, I pay a lot attention to the details of the game, and sometimes, I miss some plots or important moments in the game. So it is really hard for the developers to balance the practicality and the fun of the educational games, which are two of the biggest elements of the educational gaming. Anyway, I still like the idea of the educational gaming and your blog is interesting to read.

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    1. Hello JX, I would like to personally thank you for taking the time to write this comment as well as read my article. I agree with you that there are potentially a lot of disadvantages to educational gaming. I think that as soon as developers work on capturing the attention span of a kid and using it in a productive and fun manner is when this will come in handy. I read the article you sent me and was interested to read some of the disadvantages. Although your personal preference may be leaning against this idea, I would urge you to keep an open mind on this new topic. All in all, I do see where you're coming from and I understand why you may feel this way towards educational gaming. Thank you.

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