Is it ‘game over, Princess?’

screenshot91Today’s blog in this series on Digital Games and Kids,  is  kid’s formal education and gaming.  What does the research say about this topic?   One article I found that  provides a good summary of research into Leaning and gaming is ‘Our Princess Is in Another Castle, A Review of Trends in Serious Gaming’, by Michael F Young and colleagues in 2012.  I love the title.  Serious games, by the way,  are those which have a purpose other than entertainment.

Their  paper reviewed over 300 studies on video games and education their value.  Disappointingly, from  current research, they found very little connection between verifiable learning achievements and the use of video games, ‘if you are looking for data to support that argument, then we are sorry, but your princess is in another castle’.

All is not lost.  There was some positive evidence for learning in the use of games  for language, history and PE (exergames), but not so much in science and math.

Part of the issue is that it is difficult to get learning outcomes that could be measured quantifiably.  Overall, researchers have not been able to pin down real improvements from games, specifically in relation to the curriculum from kindergarten to year twelve.   There were, however,  some promising indications in terms of social, interaction and collaboration.   Interesting!  Is it suggesting that being hunched over a video game mightn’t be entirely anti-social?

Overall though, it seems  the still jury out on educational outcomes from digital games.  It is a worry that the area of learning, the main focus of this series in exploring the impact of games is looking a little shakey.  I had hoped that education, at least, would be a hands down positive of games. Is it game over then before we start?  Do we just declare and let bad take home the trophy?

No way.  This is a minor obstacle on this knight’s quest.  There is much more to explore about learning and games during the month:

  • Just how are video games being used in learning environments?
  • What games are being used?
  • What learnings are there that are not curriculum relate?
  • Are learnings happening at home?
  • What other castles can we look in?

And, before we go down the rabbit hole of the dark side of games on kids learning, seeing its Friday, tomorrow I’d like to share a fun piece.  The next blog takes our home games  to school with ‘X-Boxes in the classroom – really?’ Check in to see what one teacher is doing with kids and their beloved digital games.

The previous blog in this series is Chocolate dipped broccoli is still broccoli.

The paper referenced above can be found here.

Author: Janis Hanley

Janis Hanley creates education programs for museums. She has a strong interest in digital engagement. Her programs have received several Queensland National Trust awards. Janis is the Queensland representative of the Museums Australia Education committee, and founder/coordinator of MAEdQ - a Queensland Network for Museum Educators . Janis is currently researching the value of digital story telling in community museums.

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