At a recent EIF breakfast debate, participants discussed about how video games are used in schools for a variety of educational reasons. A recent study called ‘Games in Schools’ looked at how games contribute to the curriculum in learning.
The study shows that games increase the motivation to learn, and that they are often used to enhance teamwork skills, provide insight into math and logic, and teach geography, ICT, or audiovisual skills.
One of the main objectives of the study was to find out what the obstacles are to integrate games into the curriculum. Some at the top of the list include the lack of computers in schools, a persistent negative attitude towards games, lack of time to actually use them in class, or the cost of buying them.
Different countries use games for different purposes in their educational systems. For example, France, Denmark, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom are at the forefront of integrating games into their educational systems, but with interesting differences in approach. In France, games are most often used to give support to pupils in difficulty (remedial teaching), in the Netherlands they are a tool for modernizing education. In the UK games are a tool for innovation and the development of advanced skills whereas in Denmark they are a tool to prepare future citizens for the virtual worlds present in society.
Integrating games into the curriculum also requires new skills from teachers. A game by itself is only a tool and it is important to use games in schools in a way that allows teachers to test if pupils actually did acquire new skills. Careful planning of evaluation methods is therefore crucial to successful integration in modern teaching.
New studies are currently looking at how to further optimize the integration of video games in smart learning educational approaches.
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