Game-based Learning…For Teachers

My 12-year old son thinks that Teachers could benefit from playing computer games. Although he does not think that any game will do, some fun for them would be quite in order. I asked him if he thought that teachers could actually be better teachers if they played more computer games. It was a tough one to ask someone who’s only been around for a dozen years, but he knew where the conversation was going.

Kids have fun, loads of fun when they play games, and, as he pointed out, they do learn quite a lot. Now the learning he refers to does not match, to a meaningfully comparable level, to the learning that is required to pass a History or Maths test. But, as the young dude pointed out, his vocabulary certainly expanded and this for him was indicative that some learning took place.

Game-based learning (GBL) is being explored more and more these days as pedagogues warn that schools and educational systems could find themselves irrelevant and boring if young children are not provided with the fun that is so easily accessible on their iPods and iPhones when they head home after school – or on the way to school in the morning.

I asked my boy if the problem-solving feature of computer-based games helps him in any way to solve the problems he sometimes experience when relating to his sister – the matter of speaking kindly, for example. Another stunner for the young lad, but he quickly highlighted the limited knowledge I have about the significance of the gap between reality and fantasy.

He came up with a brilliant idea, I thought, on what a game for teachers could look like that intended to provide both fun and sharpen pedagogy – although he did not put it that way. “Simulations” and “Role play” he said, could create scenarios along an important pedagogical skill, demanding of the teacher to make choices that either lead to losing a life, or getting a million bonus points.

Not bad for a kid whose been around for a short while and certainly worth pondering over in the pursuit of innovative teacher development initiatives.

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