John Kirriemuir and Angela McFarlane (2003) wrote a survey-based conference paper on how “pure” computer and video games (that is, games that are not explicitly designed to be educational) tend to beÂ used in classrooms.
Kirriemuir and McFarlane report that games are typically used in five ways: (1) research projects, although hardly any schools continued to use the games after the projects ended; (2) school-oriented competitions; (3) computer clubs that are largely unsupervised and not part of a learning program; (4) a vehicle for literacy or critique (that is, describing or evaluating games); or (5) a reward or incentive to maintain good behavior.
The most common games used in classrooms were reported to be strategy and simulation games. SimCity and Roller Coaster Tycoon were the two most commonly used…
games for a variety of reasons (including the ability to use the game across a variety of subject domains). As of 2003, very few video game console games were used in classooms; PC games were much more common.
They also highlight some obstacles to video games’ use in classrooms, including: (1) the large time it takes to learn a game; (2) making sure the content is appropriate for learning; (3) for teachers to be able to figure out ways to use the game for coursework/evaluation; (4) school IT licensing agreements; (5) stringent hardware requirements; (6) lack of time for teachers to be able to figure out the educational components of a game; (7) the need for “save points” in games to decrease wasted time between sessions; etc.
The authors observe an “increasing number of schools allowing their pupils to create games and simulations using a variety of simple tools and software packages.” It’d be interesting to see if this trend will continue. Are teachers becoming more technology-savvy to the point where more of them actively seek ways to incorporate pure games in their classrooms?
- Angela McFarlane, John Kirriemuir: Use of Computer and Video Games in the Classroom. Presented at the DiGRA conference, Holland, November 2003.Â Paper available online via Google Scholar