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 'Fortnite' and ‘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.
The ‘Digital Australia 2014’ report states that 83% of gamers surveyed find games educational. Parents surveyed identified learning about technology (94%) and maths (90%) as the leading benefits of their children playing games. As seen in the graph, 89% of parents believe their children are able to ‘learn about science’ through playing games (Brand, J.E, Lorentz, P. and Mathew, T., 2014). As this is my subject area, this statistic is quite important to me. Realising that parents see an opportunity for the use of games in their child’s education means that I need to make a conscious effort to bring game-based learning into my teaching.
As a secondary Science teacher, I can see the use of games being overlooked by some of my colleagues. I have noticed that they are widely viewed as a ‘primary school initiative’ as many associate games with ‘playing’ and as Trundle states in the Digital Games 2014 report many still see games as ‘naughty things that naughty boys play in the dark… and breed anti-social behaviour’ (Jennings, 2014).
There needs to be a culture amongst teachers and parents that changes their attitudes, understanding and beliefs about games (Rowan, 2014) and this starts with the ability of those ‘early adopters’ to share the impact on ‘how, when and why games are incorporated and the extent to which they have are able to live up to their potential’ (Rowan, 2014).
- Brand, J.E, Lorentz, P. and Mathew, T. (2014) ‘Digital Australia 2014’. Retrieved from: http://www.igea.net/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/Digital-Australia-2014-DA14.pdf
- Extra Credits – How Games Prepare You for Life – Education: 21st Century Skills. (n.d.). Retrieved March 02, 2015, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0hoeAmqwvyY
- Jennings, J. (2014). “Teachers re-evaluate value of video games.” Sydney Morning Herald, Retrieved from http://www.smh.com.au/national/education/teachers-reevaluate-value-of-video-games-20141130-11jw0i.html
- Rowan, L. (2014) “From OMG to woot! woot! Teacher attitudes towards games and serious play in Australian schools”. Retrieved from: http://www.aare.edu.au/publications-database.php/9050/from-omg-to-woot-woot-teacher-attitudes-towards-games-and-serious-play-in-australian-schools
- Trundle, V. (2008) ”Video games in the Classroom.” iTeach – The Victoria Institute of Teaching Newsletter, March 2008. Retrieved from: http://www.vit.vic.edu.au/SiteCollectionDocuments/PDF/iteach/1461_iteach-Mar08–final.pdf