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What Can We Learn From Video Games for Classroom Application?. Dr. Michael England Professor of Education Southwestern Adventist University August 2012.

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What Can We Learn From Video Games for Classroom Application?

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What Can We Learn From Video

Games for Classroom Application?

Dr. Michael England

Professor of Education

Southwestern Adventist University

August 2012

If the games generation are Digital Natives, what does that make the older generations – those who make or buy the e-Learning that the Digital Natives use?

One way to think of them is as “Digital Immigrants.” They came to the digital shores later in life, and they had to learn to cope with digital technology as adults.

“For the first time in history, we are no longer limited by our teachers’ ability and knowledge.”

– Mark Anderson






  • Video games

  • Computers

  • Email

  • The Web

  • Multiple, mobile devices

  • Instant messaging

  • Online communities

  • TV generation

  • Typewriters

  • Memos

Product of the Environment

Our Digital Native’s e-Life

  • Coordinating

    • Projects, workgroups, MMORPGs

  • Evaluating

    • Reputation systems–Epinions, Amazon, Slashdot

  • Gaming

    • Solo, 1-on-1, small & large groups

  • Learning

    • About stuff that interests them

  • Evolving

    • Peripheral, emergent behaviors

  • Communicating

    • email, IM, chat

  • Sharing

    • Blogs, webcams

  • Buying & Selling

    • ebay, papers

  • Exchanging

    • music, movies, humor

  • Creating

    • sites, avatars, mods

  • Meeting

    • 3D chat rooms, dating

  • Collecting

    • mp3, video, sensor data

  • Searching

    • Info, connections, people

  • Analyzing

    • SETI, drug molecules

  • Reporting

    • Moblogs, photos

  • Programming

    • Open systems, mods search

  • Socializing

    • Learning social behavior, influence

  • Growing Up

    • Exploring, transgressing

Mind Boggling Statistics

Today, 8-18 year-olds devote an average of 7 hours and 38 minutes (7:38) to using entertainment media across a typical day (more than 53 hours a week).  

And because they spend so much of that time ‘media multitasking’ (using more than one medium at a time), they actually manage to pack a total of 10 hours and 45 minutes (10:45) worth of media content into those 7½ hours.

Number of minutesper week that parents spend in meaningful conversation with their children: 3.5

Hours per year the average American youth spends in school: 900

Hours per year the average American youth watches television: 1500

Number of murders seen on TV by the time an average child finishes elementary school: 8,000

Number of violent acts seen on TV by age 18: 200,000

The average gamer will have played 10,000 hours by age 21 with 99 percent of male gamers (94 percent for females) under the age of 18 playing five days a week.

The average young person racks up 10,000 hours of gaming by the age of 21 -- or 24 hours less than they spend in a classroom for all of middle and high school if they have perfect attendance.

It's a remarkable amount of time we're investing in games. 5 million gamers in the U.S., in fact, are spending more than 40 hours a week playing games -- the equivalent of a full time job! 

Reading.Over the past 5 years, time spent reading books remained steady at about :25 a day, but time with magazines and newspapers dropped (from :14 to :09 for magazines, and from :06 to :03 for newspapers).  

The proportion of young people who read a newspaper in a typical day dropped from 42% in 1999 to 23% in 2009.  On the other hand, young people now spend an average of :02 a day reading magazines or newspapers online.

Media and homework.  About half of young people say they use media either “most” (31%) or “some” (25%) of the time they’re doing their homework.

Rules about media content. Fewer than half of all 8- to 18-year-olds say they have rules about what TV shows they can watch (46%), video games they can play (30%), or music they’re allowed to listen to (26%).  Half (52%) say they have rules about what they can do on the computer.

Gender gap. Girls spend more time than boys using social networking sites (:25 vs. :19), listening to music (2:33 vs. 2:06), and reading (:43 vs. :33).  

Boys spend more time than girls playing console video games (:56 vs.:14), computer games (:25 vs. :08), and going to video websites like YouTube (:17 vs. :12).

Tweens and media. Media use increases substantially when children hit the 11-14 year-old age group, an increase of 1:22 with TV content, 1:14 with music, 1:00 using the computer, and :24 playing video games, for total media exposure of 11:53 per day (vs. 7:51 for 8-10 year-olds). 

Texting. 7th-12th graders report spending an average of 1:35 a day sending or receiving texts. (Time spent texting is not counted as media use in this study.)

It’s not attention deficit –

I’m just not listening!

Why Kids Drop Out of School

47%Classes weren’t interesting.

43%Missed too many days and couldn’t catch up.

42%Friends weren’t interested in school.

38%Too much freedom & too few rules in my life.

35%Was failing in school.

But 70% were confident they could have graduated. and 81% recognized that graduating was vital to their success.

Online 3 -5 hours

per day.

Today’s Students

97% play video games

50% played yesterday

Today’s Students

Accustomed to high

level of empowerment

Today’s Students

Live in a world with

lots of content to

choose from.

Today’s Students

Are active learners





Are active builders

How MillennialsLearn

Themes of Millennials

  • Digitally literate

  • Always on

  • Experiential

  • Mobile

  • Community-oriented

Digital Natives

Digital Immigrants












Digital Natives

Digital Immigrants












21st Century Learners

  • have had technology forever

  • have found new processes for critical thinking

  • have embraced the concept of change

  • have managed to strike fear into the previous generation

What was your

favorite game?

What was enjoyable

about it?

Why Games Engage Us






Outcomes & Feedback


Win states

Conflict, competition

Problem solving

Interaction with people

Representation & Story

  • Enjoyment and Pleasure

  • Intense involvement

  • Structure

  • Motivation

  • Doing

  • Learning

  • Flow

  • Ego Gratification

  • Adrenaline

  • Creativity

  • Social Groups

  • Emotion

We have learned to “play school.”  We study the right facts the night before the test so we achieve a passing grade and thus become a successful student.

– A high school student

“...how many educators are able to keep the undivided attention of 5th graders multiple hours straight without a break...and yet video games manage to do so...”

The gamer's world ─

Move over, I'm driving; buckle up!

Video games

are fair.

There is always

an answer

There is always a problem(s) that has a solution(s) which lead to an end result -- the object of the game.

The answer is rarelyobvious.

There is always

an answer

A correct answer will give you information which will be useful in reaching the goal; thus you must persevere to find a correct answer.

The answer is always relevant.

You might be frustrated for a while and you may need help in finding it, but it is always there. Cheats (hints) are built into the program and are part of the resources available to you.

There is always

an answer

Cheats are OK, because you are learning (gaining valuable information) as you move forward toward the goal.

In schools, the answer is given to you; it is often not linked to anything relevant. There is only one right answer and one right way to get there and cheats are not to be tolerated!

There is always

an answer

Students rarely, if ever, associate fairness with schools.

In any game, you have the tools and the talent to be successful on your own, or you may connect with someone who has the information you need in order to move forward (collaboration).

Nothing is


You see yourself and your friends do amazing things such as save the world from terrorists or alien invasions, create thriving civilizations, and manage a successful small business.

You have the power to control your destiny. You can accomplish anything you want, and therefore you are motivated.

Competition is inherent in game structure. Competition is the motivating


Competition &


Competition does not eclipse collaboration; in fact, collaboration is often an integral part of furthering your success.

Competitionand collaboration are symbiotic rather than mutually exclusive concepts.

In games, roles are clearly defined. You choose your role and understand its powers and limitations.

Roles are


You understand the rules, the tools at your disposal and you are willing to take the risks.

In schools, the roles are not as clear. The child's role of “student” is defined at the discretion of the teacher.

Roles are


At the secondary level, a child may have several teachers a day who all have different definitions of the child's role depending on the activity chosen or the concept being taught.

If a child comes into the learning environment with an identity that is contraryto the role the teacher is asking them to perform, he or she will not be successful. Thus, a child with a history of failure in math may have difficult time accepting the role of “math student.”

Roles are


They are the stars in their own adventure. They are responsible for their own success.

They dominate

their culture

Their experience tells them that with patienceand perseverance, they will succeed.

Compared to the classroom, games are empowering, motivating, individualized differentiated learning environments with set rules which value the efforts of the individual child.

Games vs.


Games are challengingand motivating.

Games offer the child a shared experience with their peers in a collaborativeenvironment. They are a platform for problem solving.

Games vs.


The structure is apparent; the rules are clear and unambiguous; and your role in the game is well defined. The goal is always attainable.

The rules are applied equally to each player. The rules of the game have to be sufficiently well-defined so there is no room for individual interpretation.

Games are


Consequences of player behavior are clearly either positive or negative. If there is a disagreement about the rules of the game, the game is stopped until the disagreement has been resolved.

In schools we tend to consider our classrooms rule-based. However, the teacher is the keeper and the interpreter of the rules.

Games are


The teacher makes the rules and can change the rules at will, either for the class or for the individual.

The teacher chooses the game.

The game continues even when rules are broken.

The amount of energy the player puts into the game invests the player with the outcome.

Player effort influences

The game outcome

Teachers are frustrated with the lack of effort students are putting into their assignments and coursework.

Yet these are the same students who spend hours playing games which they find relevant, challenging and fun.

The Bad News!

Educators have been slow to pick up on this fundamental shift in the way the video game generation learns. They know something is very different in the classroom; they just can't pin point what it is.

Teachers are frustrated by their inability to connect with students.

The Bad News!

We are dealing with a new, rapidly growing culture that refuses to be force fed a “canned education.”

Apathetic students are willing to be in school, perhaps, but motivated only by their parents, their friends or the law. Even though they are physically in attendance, they are not engaged in the “game” we call school.

This attitude is a slap in the face to our traditional educational system, but it is a fact and it is not going to go

The Bad News!

The structure of the game molds the gamers‘ experiences, leading to a different way of looking at the world and, given a certain situation, determining how best to interact. Teachers who are not gamers do not live in the same world and therefore cannot see the possibilities.

The Bad News!

The gamers are trying to send a message to their teachers and to the educational system as a whole. Clearly, teachers are going to have to rethink how they present material in the classroom.

Kids will walk away

from homework because

it is “too hard.”

Kids will walk away from a

computer game because it is

“too easy.”







We Play Games!






Fifteen Principles of Gaming

  • Risk-taking: Good video games lower the consequences caused from failure. Risks are encouraged.

  • Customization: Games provide different difficulty levels and allow players to solve problems in different ways.

  • Agency: Players gain a sense of ownership.

  • Well-Ordered Problems: Problems players face are built to lead players to form strategies that will work later, on harder problems.

  • Challenge and Consolidation: Games allow players to gain mastery, then requires them to learn something new and consolidate their skills.

  • “Just-in-Time” and “On Demand”: Games give verbal commands versus written.

  • Situated Meanings: Games always situate meanings of words in terms of actions, images and dialogue.

  • Pleasantly Frustrating: Game are “doable” but challenging.

  • System Thinking: Games encourage players to think about relationships, not isolated events.

  • Explore, Think Literally, Rethink Goals: Games encourage players to explore thoroughly before moving on, thinking laterally not just linearly.

  • Smart Tools and Distributed Knowledge: Players often work with other characters to complete the game, knowledge and tools are shared.

  • Cross-Functional Teams: Many games require players to be apart of multiplayer teams.

So what are positive side effects of games?

  • Kids who play games with their parents feel a stronger connection with them and also perform better in school.

  • Playing "pro social" games like Super Mario Sunshine where you help out the world makes you three to four times more likely to help others in real life.

  • As far as music games, 67 percent of respondents in a pool of 7,000 reported inspiration to play an instrument in real life after playing a music game.72 percent of musicians reported spending more time playing real instruments after playing music games.

So what are positive side effects of games?

  • Playing as an attractive, heroic character in a video game for 90 seconds will make players more confident for the next 24 hours. More likely to put themselves out there.

  • The second most positive mental activity in soldiers was found after they played games for three to four hours. The most positive activity came from five to six hours of daily exercise.

  • Gamers are more likely to have lucid dreams and are more likely able to take control in nightmares for positive outcomes.

The Future

  • Video games / simulations will have a significant impact upon learning in the next 5 years that will be verified by hard data.

  • Games and simulations will transform learning in the next 10-15 years.

  • Institutions prepared to develop and use these simulations will have an edge.

  • There will be need to teach with, develop, and learn from these games and simulations.

Resource Page

Go to: http://d2l.swau.edu

User Name: teacher.resource(don’t forget the period in-between)

Password: love2teach

Click on the class: EDUC 002 Technology Resource

Go to CONTENT tab at top and click for the resources

  • Login