In this week’s EC&I 831 Elluminate session with Sylvia Martinez we discussed the increasing interest in attempting to use games in the classroom. Sylvia’s presentation triggered some interesting discussions within the back channel about how educators have used gaming to support learning in their own classes. Liz Becker (AKA Ellsbeth) mentioned her use of the game “Medal of Honor” in an activity where students were given the choice of sources to assess for historical accuracy. I thought this was a unique way to teach students an incredibly valuable skill and it made me think about potential uses of games in my own classes. In Social Studies 11 we examine Canada’s involvement in World War I and World War II and my (mostly male) students frequently ask if they can play Call of Duty to learn about these topics. I had never given this idea serious thought up until our session with Sylvia, and I highly doubt the students who keep raising this idea had either. But why wouldn’t an activity similar to the idea suggested by Ellsbeth work? I’m going to have to give this idea some more thought and figure out how to balance learning through games alongside attempting to prepare my students for the final game of Trivial Pursuit, I mean final standardized Provincial Exam.
Another major theme in Sylvia’s presentation was how often educators adopt terrible “educational games” that have little or no appeal to the students they are aimed at. I was one of several class members who voiced a certain level of disdain for “educational games” based on my experiences with them in both my school and teaching careers. I have seen countless examples of poorly designed “educational games” that cost a large sum of money to buy and go over like lead balloons when students sit down to “play” them.
While reading through my local newspaper the morning after class I stumbled upon a small article titled “Online game teaches healthy eating”. The article discussed an online game developed with the support of the B.C. Dairy Foundation that was designed to teach kids about Canada’s Food Guide and healthy eating. After reading the article’s description of the game, titled “Titanium Chef“, I thought I had found yet another example of a terrible educational game. Unfortunately, I couldn’t confirm my assumption as none of the links on the game’s site seem to work. However, I did find some positive reviews of the game so perhaps there is some hope yet. If not, I will find some solace in the fact that the game is free to use and won’t cost schools thousands of dollars in licensing fees.