Images are versatile game elements. Here are five vocabulary games that require nothing more than a set of cards with vocab images on them. All of these games ask players to repeatedly access target words from memory in order to achieve a goal that requires more than just vocab recollection.
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.
The 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 →
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.
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.
Do you need to make a case for using learning games in your classroom or school? Data is your friend. Though studies on the benefits of learning with games are still scarce, the Gates-Foundation-funded GlassLab (“Glass” is for Games and Learning Assessment) managed to put together a terrific meta-analysis of 69 studies measuring the effects of digital games on learning, involving a total of 6,868 unique participants. And it’s available to the public! This infographic sums up the principal findings:
Not only does the meta-analysis ask whether or not games have an effect on learning outcomes (they do), but it also looks at some of the factors that make games better or worse at helping you teach. I highly recommend reading the study summary on their website – it’s well-written, and the methodology is clearly explained, along with many subtleties the infographic doesn’t convey.
I have played many a Jeopardy-style quiz game in class. And with good reason: quiz games adapt to many topics, and they stir up students’ competitive spirit, making for an easy kind of engagement.
1. But if I’m honest about it, I have to admit that with this kind of game, it is most often the strongest students who invest and engage the most. Many games result in winners and losers, but one of the benefits of using games in class is that they can give middling or even poor students a chance to be victorious – something quiz games rarely do.
If you create your own games, you have ideas that need to be tested. Create a lab space for yourself by keeping a game kit around, with some basic components in it that can be used for just about any mechanic you have in mind.
Game parts aren’t very expensive, and you don’t need much to get started. Here are five of the most useful, most versatile components, along with sources and, if you need them, even cheaper substitutes.
For this long-time language teacher, the game that teaches language skills is something of a holy grail. In the past few years, the classes I’ve taught haven’t been focused so much on language acquisition and grammar as on cultural understanding; with students already at least moderately conversational in the target language, I was able to design games that focused on other concepts (international conflict, the immigrant experience). But the game that teaches language is always in the back of my mind.
I’ve finally had a chance to look at the feedback from Isaac Joslin’s students, who played Sans-Papiers a few weeks ago in the context of Joslin’s course on immigration in France.
Of the 18 responses I received, 13 made some mention of the rules being difficult to understand or complicated; 13 used some variation of “interesting” or “fun” to describe play (one instance of “magnifique” is included in this count). A few did not address game play at all, but instead outlined a perceived lesson on the hardships of immigrant life.
Here are some selected comments, with my thoughts:
William and I are in the middle of a game of Napoleon’s Triumph, the hard-to-find board game that models the battle of Austerlitz. The game jumped to the front of our to-play list when William finally acquired a copy in excellent condition two weeks ago, and after a few hours of tense in-game decision-making, we are already much impressed.
William and I had a conversation about game aesthetics on Saturday, in the context of a board game meet-up where he acquired a game he had long yearned for, but which is out of print and difficult to find. The game is called Napoleon’s Triumph, and it models the battle of Austerlitz (with some ingenious mechanics, by the way).