Gaming?! IN SCHOOL??!!!

Yes, gaming…   My first experience with gaming in school was dying of dysentery.  

(http://blog.games.com/2011/12/19/carmen-sandiego-oregon-trail-facebook-close/)

The good old Apple IIe with it’s giant (truly) floppy disk provided the 80’s kids with their first educational computer encounter.  Of course Atari and Colecovision were the coveted technological toys of the time, but in school classrooms Oregon Trail was time away from books for us students yet still learning time to the teachers.  We were still learning while having fun!  We were learning history, decision making (choosing supplies), how to use a computer, computer etiquette, sharing (the one computer), how staring at the green screen made all the white chalk writing on the board look pink.  Why has that stopped?  Why is gaming a bad word in schools?

My two year old said to me “look daddy, there’s an airplane.  It has a fuselage.”  I was stunned!  Where did this word come from?  He had been using an app on his mother’s tablet (which I still can’t work) that played puzzle games that announced the name of each piece being assembled on the structure.  (Little plug for toddler parents – puzzingo  https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.sx.puzzingo&hl=en   Check it out, seriously!)  To him, he was just playing. To me, he was learning to manipulate a computing devise (swiping etc.), he was learning spatial reasoning, he was learning vocabulary, he was learning jargon (for the specific vehicles etc.), and he was learning time/parental limits (tantrums oy!)

The point of the matter is gaming, with supervision and proper design can aid instruction.  Yes, it is easy to get entertainment only games that are huge distractions to the classroom.  Yes, games need to be vetted for violence and appropriateness like any other media coming into the classroom.  But, the level of engagement attainable, and the value of even tacit learning that occurs is worth the extra time investment.

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