At the moment, education is focused on the standardised test. How can we ensure that students get the highest mark possible at the end of the year? How can we increase the number of ‘Band 6s’ that our cohort receives for the HSC? While these things are important, they are not necessarily the be all and the end all of education, especially with the changing climate of our world.
21st century skills include those things such as critical thinking, collaboration, communication and creativity – all skills that students will be needing to move into the fast-paced work environment that will be vastly different from what we see now. It’s amazing to actually realise, when you look at it, that these skills can be learnt and practiced by playing a range of games. Online games such as ‘World of Warcraft’ allow players to collaborate with others from around the world in order to complete their quest, a game like ‘Risk’ can build critical thinking skills and even the popular game, ‘Minecraft’ can help to spark creativity amongst the young and old.
These skills are things that cannot be taught by reading a textbook or memorising a set of facts. They need to be modelled and then practiced in a range of situations. The video talks about ‘transference’ – where we transfer the skills we use in one situation into a variety of other situations within our lives. One of the biggest issues facing game based learning at the moment is the lack of understanding of this transference of skills. Some educators are struggling to understand that the skills that are learnt whilst playing these ‘games’ can be used in a wide range of educational settings across all subject areas. Through the use of games in the classroom, these 21st century skills can be honed while covering subject specific content at the same time.
Games not only help to build these skills, but also help to boost student engagement. By incorporating subject specific content into games, teachers can get students excited and interested to learn about fundamental concepts that can often be difficult to grasp. Obviously there needs to be input from the teacher to go with the integration of games with the role of the teacher to help reinforce and structure the ideas and concepts being explored. By integrating games into classrooms, teachers can also spend time focusing on those students who need some more assistance as the other students are actively engaged in their learning through gaming.
As I move forward into this subject, I look forward to exploring a range of games that can be integrated into the Science curriculum to boost the 21st century skills of my students. One game in particular I have interest in understanding more about is Minecraft as I have seen some pretty amazing things being produced by students as young as Year 3 and would love to explore its potential in the high school science classroom.