Using video-game based lessons has its obvious differences from teaching with a textbook. But researcher James Gee recently looked past the digital facade of the video game to see what video games can teach us about the educational process.
Gee first looked at the process in which games are designed and how players interact with it. It’s the game-design company’s job to make a game that can be learned quickly and thoroughly. If the player doesn’t get it, they’re going to return it.
Gee compares this mentality with what most think about textbooks.
- In school, information is given to students whether they want it or not.
- You won’t need 500 pages worth of information until you finish, but by the time you get to the end you can’t remember what information was on page 2.
In a game, players get thrown in before they know all the rules or understand the territory. “Games are based on performance before competence,” says Gee. An example of this that he provides is a game that requires students to memorize 350 codes. If the students were given this task in school, they would be asked to memorize all 350 codes. With a game, the students used the codes so many times that they learned them all by the end of the game.
Another change in the educational process when compared with textbooks is that once the student has finished the game, there is no need to be tested. If they got to the end, they’ve already proven they understand and mastered the task.
Do you use video games to teach concepts in your class? Would you? Share your thoughts in the comment box below.