What Games do Teachers Play?

It’s getting easier to find statistics about how many students are playing games and even what game genres and specific titles they play. But data about what teachers are playing? Not so easy to find.

The Joan Ganz Cooney Center has organized teacher surveys to gather data about which teachers use games, and how (Games & Learning reports on game use in class). But they’ve also asked some questions about teachers’ personal recreational gameplay, and that’s what I’m interested in today. After all, it’s hard to imagine asking someone with no interest in books to inspire kids to have rich reading experiences; if we’re going to expect teachers to use games in their classrooms — and increasingly, we do — shouldn’t we invest in the gaming lives of teachers?

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Are We Overlooking Paper Games?

As an educator, I’ve sometimes had the feeling that technology in school was an end in itself rather than a means to better learning experiences. Perhaps you’ve been there, too.

Technology absolutely has its place in learning. A big place, even, especially when it comes to digital games. But I’ve had two occasions this week to think about the place of games that don’t require modern technology, and to consider that they might be undervalued in the exploding field of educational gaming.

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How Game-Savvy are our Students?

Our students are playing video games.

A lot of video games, in fact.

According to a Pew study of 2008 data, 97% of American 12-17 year-olds play digital games on a computer, console, or mobile device. That’s 99% of boys, and 94% of girls.

pew games study finding: 97% of teens play digital gamesThe Pew study involved over a thousand kids aged 12 to 17. While the 97% statistic may not come as a surprise, the study abounds in interesting, less-expected findings and I recommend reading the whole report. That said, a few points stood out in particular. If you’re considering using digital games in your program, you’ll want to get to know this data. Continue reading

Choose Better Games: 3 Questions to Ask Before You Play

You’re thinking about using a game in your program.

You’ve probably already evaluated that game based on its coverage of the material students need to learn. That is, after all, why we want games in our classrooms – because they engage students with material that otherwise might not seem so accessible.

Cartoon of Ajax and Achilles playing a board game
Age-old questions.

But don’t stop there – games are more than gamified learning content. To get the most out of using games in your program, push your evaluation further with these three questions, designed to probe a game’s potential for giving players a deeper, more engaging learning experience.

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