AQ ePortfolio Artifact: Online Games

This is one part of a 5 part assignment, highlighting contributions to an AQ course. The assignment asks the student to select 5 – 7 pieces of your work from this course that shows “You”.

The Question: Now it’s time to have a little fun! Go to the website and select the grade you teach or would like to teach from the left hand side menu. Then select current standards and one of the subject areas. Take some time to play many of the games that you think your students may like. Also, think about a concept or topic that you are currently teaching or want your students to review and play some of the games related to that topic.

Consider the following questions:

Would your students have fun playing these games?

Would they also learn the concepts that you want them to learn while playing these games?

Is this an effective way to teach a concept while using the computer? Put your thoughts into a persuasive paragraph that tells other educators what games (concepts) you played and your thoughts on the value of using computer games with your students.

The Answer: Perhaps I clicked on the wrong links, but after exploring six different games within the Grade 6 section of the site, I came away with a pretty negative impression of the games curated on this site. I find these types of games in school problematic, as they tend to teach concepts in a “Drill and Kill” style. Lessons on Grammar — like Grammar Gorilla from, or Grammar Blast from — allow for random guessing, and don’t explain — when the wrong answer is provided — why the answer given is incorrect. This means the game is great for someone who fully understands the concept already, and reinforces that knowledge; but does nothing to help students who don’t understand, and could actually be a negative by inspiring frustration in a student who is struggling, without providing an adequate way for the student to meet with success. Because for the most part these games are not “intelligent” enough to allow for divergent thinking, the games don’t allow the students to practice higher-order thinking skills. When answers can only be either right or wrong, they end up having to be very simple questions, that don’t allow for students to communicate why they think something is correct, and don’t help the teacher to assess the process, and the student’s thinking. Games like this are the equivalent of the blackline master, fill-in-the-blanks style of instruction that doesn’t make for effective teaching. Games like these don’t help to foster the intrinsic motivation necessary to help students become life-long learners, and instead rely too much on external rewards and points.

The Motivation: The listing of games provided in the assignment (as far as I could gather from my assessment of the site) were the types of games that don’t help teach concepts as much as they provide a way to practice concepts that are already mastered. These are types of activities we see students wasting their time on in Computer Labs when they could be using the technology in more creative, purposeful ways. I think we are seeing a different form of gamification of education emerging in the form of the creative uses of Minecraft being used in the classroom, and in the ways that students have used platforms like Second Life and Sim City, but the examples given do not elevate themselves to this ideal, in which games help students to explore, and use creative thinking to solve problems. We see these skills utilized in current video games, we need to find ways to leverage that in education, rather than recycling an old form of gaming that has long since evolved in the commercial gaming world, but is still perpetuated in the educational sphere.

Published by jarbenne

Jared Bennett is the Student Information System Consultant at Hamilton Wentworth District School Board.

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