Video Games in the Classroom

By Todd Marks
Think about the age-old model of putting students in rows for learning. In many of today’s classrooms, not much has changed, despite the fact that this generation of students is extremely tech-savvy and technology is currently available to facilitate innovative improvements in schools.

What is preventing schools from adapting with the times? Students have adapted to technology, so why haven’t the teachers jumped on board?

Statistics from Flurry Analytics show that the ages 45-65 only take up 5% of the gaming demographic. Often, leaders directing the curriculum fall within this range.  In today’s classroom, most students have a smartphone in their pocket, and they use them to text, tweet and post.  What would happen if they used that smartphone for something more positive and productive?

“Gamifying” today’s education system is the answer. It has been proven to work in other Asian countries, but we need the buy-in from the older generation to embrace technology to help change the system, and keep on top of technology adoption.

On the other side of the gaming demographic, almost half of gamers are between the ages of 13-25. These individuals, many of which who are students, are accustomed to gaming. Including educational games in curriculum would be a step in the right direction to better engage our students.

What is holding us back from creating a modern classroom?  Almost all teachers who have been in the same role for several years teach the same thing, the same way, year after year. Incentives would help teachers keep lessons interactive and encourage them to reinvent, rather than lecture the same old material. Learning could incorporate location-based services, augmented reality, natural language processing and so many more technology-enabled tools.

Other countries are adapting more quickly, and they are surpassing us. Infrastructure is keeping us from being on the cutting edge of education delivery.  The good news is this change is happening, just at glacial speed.

“Video Games in the Classroom” was the topic of Todd Marks’ recent presentation at the Baltimore Washington Tech Meetup. See  presentation, above. Todd Marks is an adjunct faculty member in UMBC’s Instructional Systems Development Master’s Program, and the President and CEO of Mindgrub Technologies.

One thought on “Video Games in the Classroom

  1. “Gamifying” is not what makes Asian countries like China and Japan superior in math and science performance in school-aged children, parenting and cultural norms are responsible for that. Now, certainly Asian countries have implemented interactive technologies for their students, but the cultural norms of discipline and rigor are by far more responsible for the success of their education system, and “gamifying” is simply the result of rapid technological development. By contrast, when parents do not enforce respect for authority or wisdom in their approach to raising children, their children will not be able to use “gamifying” as effectively. For “gamifying” to be effective in the American educational system, cultural norms need to change. Parents need to be at home and ensure that children use technology appropriately before children will be prepared to use their smartphones to better their learning. Simply making education visually and audibly stimulating does not guarantee its effectiveness.

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