The Internet is ripe with free games that can be helpful to teachers and students alike. Of course, there are also a lot of lesser-quality tools out there and sites that will burden your computer with viruses and the like, so it helps to have a vetted list to work from.
The current trend towards the increased use of games and game mechanics in instructional situations could probably have been foreseen quite some time ago. Stretching right back to the primitive gaming technology of the ZX Spectrum in the early 80′s, kids were hooked. As a wider variety and higher quality of educational games have been produced, it is really no surprise that educationists have gravitated towards further use of them as tools in the learning environment.
Benefits of Educational Gaming
- Game playing can develop attitude towards mathematics for children: Mathematics can be a dry subject, “full of repetitive problems, formulas, and exams”. According to a recent research from Deakin University, incorporating games in the curriculum dramatically alters student’s attitudes about math. “More kids were able to articulate positive emotions surrounding math, as well as an increase in confidence about different concepts. There was more energy for math, more motivation, and ultimately more success. It seemed that playing math games helped to alleviate the tediousness of repetitive problem solving.”
- Video games can lessen disruptive behaviours and enhance positive development in ADHD children: Recent study in the field of education technology and Early Childhood Technology focused on the use of video games to help children with ADHD, indicated that a video game designed to teach kids how to control their breathing and heart rate had a significant impact on their behaviour. This finding certainly runs contrary to the idea that video games make children ‘hyper’ or that ADHD is a result of overuse of video games.
- Children who construct their own video games experience increased cognitive and social growth: Recent research indicates that “children show cognitive growth when they are given the task of creating their own video game. In order to develop such a game, students must use prior knowledge, create links between scenes, and take control of their learning through trial and error. Children must use logic, survival skills, and generate new ideas and solutions in order to complete the game.”
- Mature make-believe play provides the most beneficial context for children’s development: “Imaginative scenarios, in which children take on roles, props, themes, and collaborate with other children, is one of the most crucial avenues for development.” Many different games provide such scenarios, offering an opportunity for development. Of course it is also very important that kids also have time to play in traditional social groups. From an education standpoint, we understand that “play is an ever-evolving skill that children must be guided through. The classroom must allow room for play-based scenarios, as they are one of the building blocks of learning. It is within this context that children build the preliminary skills for advanced academic understanding.”
- Play-based learning increases children’s attention span: A most recent research on education gamification based on the technology disruption of education reveal three findings as follows?
. When teachers have confidence in a child’s ability to learn independently, the child/teacher relationship is stronger.
• When teachers have confidence in a child’s ability to learn independently, the child/teacher relationship is stronger. Teachers are then able to take a more “facilitative” role and observe the student actively learning. The educators also recognized that when children are allowed to learn through play, there is far less time spent on behavior management. A child’s attention span is also longer.
• Play-based learning shifts the focus of learning from the outcome or goal, to the process.”
- Playing scary and violent video games help children master their fears in real life: While many studies that have been done centered on the negative impacts and consequences of prolonged use of video games, Psychologist Cheryl K. Olson opine to the contrary and suggests there are numerous psychological benefits to playing video games.
“In boys who struggle with stress, fear, and anger- negative emotions that can have violent consequences- video games act as a safe alternative for the release of pent up emotion. There are other findings as well, comprising the fun of ‘unreality’- experimenting with a world where natural laws are suspended- plus the fun of challenge, mastery, and playing with different identities. These findings reveal that video games can be an alternate way to release negative emotion, and help children alleviate their innate desire for risk and adventure.”
- Chess makes kids smart: Chess makes students, “slow down, concentrate, use precise thinking, [and use] both inductive and deductive reasoning, as well as recognizing difficult and complex patterns.” There are plenty of online chess games, so this is yet another way in which computerized gaming can have a positive impact on a child’s educational development. That being said, using a traditional chess set is a wonderful experience, so be sure to encourage students to try that as well, and provide access to chess set if you can.
- Music and movement augment children’s language capabilities during the preschool years: Children who engage in music from a young age have a more finely tuned ability to speak and communicate. Though much of modern education focuses primarily on visual sight for learning, the auditory processes are critically important for language acquisition. The younger the child, the more important music becomes. Children who engage in music from a young age have a more finely tuned ability to speak and communicate.” Gamers know that background music is a part of many electronic games, and now we know that this exposure to music provides yet another benefit of gaming in the instructional context!