Free and Fun: How Video Games Can Help Students Learn

Categories Gaining nothing from gaming, Guest Posts, Tech Takes (not reviews)

This is a guest post by Amber. She show us a great example of an educational video game to spur creative thinking: free credit card simulator by Credit card Finder. It teaches kids (and adults) on how to sepnd money wisely and turns learning into fun!  If you would like to write for TheDolt’s Blog, do read our page Be My Guest; Write A Guest Post.

Anyone who thinks that playing a modern video game is a brainless activity has definitely not tried to maneuver their way through a digital landscape in a very long time.

If you’ve having any difficulty holding your class’s interest or motivating them to master intricate concepts, consider a few ways that video games actually help students learn.

1. Frequent Feedback

Video games give instant and detailed feedback (scores) to tell the gamer how their performance rates across many different aspects of the game. At any point in time, they know exactly what works and what doesn’t so that they can change their strategy. Just as quickly, they know if the changes produced the desired results.

Compare that to receiving a test grade back days, or weeks, later. Even worse than a delay is a general score. A “C” might be a passing grade, but it certainly doesn’t tell the student where they excel or what areas need a little work.

2. Live Testing

Instead of just reviewing the code and launching the product, video game designers actively test their new games with a group of live participants. This quickly reveals any defect or bug.

Many teachers try to just convert their classroom material into an online curriculum. Sometimes this works well, and, other times, not so much. Online professors should watch at least one student as they take the actual course. It would quickly tell them what works and what needs to be changed.


3. Goal-Oriented Approach

In video games, the gamers always understand the ultimate goal. As they follow the storyline, their logic and other skills are tested within the context of the game. For example, in Tower Defense games, the player knows that he must block the enemy by strategically placing his towers to defend his territory.

Frequently, both classroom and online courses concentrate so hard on the specific skills the class is designed to teach, the teacher forgets to place the material in context with real-world tasks. By demonstrating that the specific skill has value, the student becomes excited about the learning experience.

4. Make it Fun

There’s a very good reason why video games are so good at teaching students a wide variety of skills from hand/eye coordination to managing resources to following complex instructions. They’re fun!

If online classes could make learning new material fun and interesting, students would be much more motivated to master the topic. After all, when you have a job that you love, it’s not really like work. The same holds true for the educational experience.

5. Encourage Creativity

Unfortunately, a lot of traditional learning environments do not encourage creativity. In fact, when they force the student to learn by memorization, it almost has the opposite effect.

On the other hand, video games encourage creativity by rewarding gamers who can think outside the box. While memorization will help a little bit in the video game world, the ability to adapt quickly to new situations makes an amazing difference to the gamer!

Next time you’re designing an online educational program, keep these tips in mind. Your students will definitely be back for more!

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