Four Tips for Using Game Technology to Engage Students

Four Tips for Using Game Technology to Engage Students
The Editorial Team January 14, 2013

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Because many young people spend hours every week playing games, educators may want to consider using game technology to engage their students. Games often require players to solve problems, complete tasks in a particular order and experiment with simulations.

Kids who are excited about playing games on Xbox, Wii or on an Internet-connected computer will likely jump at the chance to use these game systems in the classroom. Here are four tips for using game technology to engage students:

Allow time for practice and discussion

It’s prudent for educators to take time to learn how to play the game and familiarize themselves with the technology before they present it to students in the classroom. Teachers need to know the ins and out of the game so they can assist students as they learn while using it.

Teachers should not expect the students to dive in and immediately succeed. Students may need to read background information or see a history of the world in which the game is situated before they can begin exploring it.

When it comes to technology games, classroom instruction is critical for making sure that all the students understand how to get the most out of the experience.

Teachers should stand back and let the students play the game without interference, and allow them to succeed or fail on their own. When the game session is over, it’s a good idea to hold a class discussion to explore what they learned and how their strategies worked to reach goals. If a game involves warfare in different historical periods, for example, the teacher can have the students conduct additional research outside of the game to bolster their understanding of the subject.

Use sports games to practice math

A variety of sports-oriented games are available. For example, the Wii gaming console has a motion-sensitive controller that students can use to simulate movements for bowling, baseball, golf and other games.

Integrating a game such as bowling enables students to practice data recording while keeping score and math skills to determine how many pins are needed to win a game or determine a team handicap.

Use green screen for presentations

One way to increase student engagement with games is to use green screen technology to make presentations. The green screen Yoostar system works with the Xbox and is similar to the program used by TV weather people to make it look like they are standing in front of a map that shows storm conditions.

Yoostar enables students to appear as if they are standing in front of locations such as the Great Wall of China or the pyramids in Egypt when they give presentations to the class. For added fun and realism students can research the location and dress in local fashions or period costumes during their presentations.

Explore virtual worlds

Virtual reality worlds are a great way to get students to engage with their subject matter. They can explore simulations as they move avatars or pictorial representations of themselves through the virtual environment.

Simulations exist to help students study such situations as the spread of plagues or a red tide bloom in the ocean. Once the kids learn about the severity of the situation, the teacher can instruct them to do additional research with the Centers for Disease Control or other scientific institutions.

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