An expert answers 5 questions about the use of video games in the classroom

Do Video Games Improve Learning? Are they beneficial for the social capital of the students? Where to start to use them? What challenges can we expect? What can we say to skeptical parents about their use in an educational context? A specialist answers these 5 questions.

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Do Video Games Improve Learning? Are they beneficial for the social capital of the students? Where to start to use them? What challenges can we expect? What can we say to skeptical parents about their use in an educational context? A specialist answers these 5 questions.

The use of video games for educational purposes is growing in popularity. Studies state in particular that their characteristics could improve learning. Faced with this phenomenon, many people, both educators and parents, wonder about their educational potential.

Professor at Department of Curriculum and Instruction from the School of Education at St. John's University in New York State, Sandra Schamroth Abrahms specializes in the use of video games for learning purposes among adolescents. During a recent interview with THE Journal magazine, 5 questions to this effect were asked.

When asked why video games improve learning, Abrahms explains that the competition and collaboration they involve can have beneficial effects on motivation. She adds that video games are often based on trial and error, an important dynamic in the learning process. Also, they can immerse the players in a specific universe and make them better understand certain concepts, such as the historical context. As such, she set the example of the game Minecraft, which can be used to create architectures from Antiquity, and from Rise of Nations, which can, in turn, interest young people in history.

Regarding the development of students' social capital, Ms. Abrahms believes that there is an effect of community, training and enthusiasm in video games. This enthusiasm, in his opinion, remains the same when the games are educational. In turn, the ripple effect increases the use, which increases the number of learners in a learning situation. The players help each other and collaborate. She also gives the example of a rather reclusive child who is now in demand in class because of his video game skills.

Where to start if you want to use video games in your classroom? We must first determine what we are aiming to teach and identify the reason why we want to use video games to do so, answers the researcher. Play-based learning requires changes to its teaching, such as the feedback, which is inherent in it.

On the teacher challenge side, while some technical issues are to be expected when using technology in the classroom, the same is true for video games, says Abrahms. We must also avoid thinking that all the pupils, because of their young age, will be immediately interested.

Finally, the researcher was asked how to deal with the reactions of skeptical parents. She recommends the demonstration to parents so that they realize the academic, social and emotional benefits of this kind of play. She adds that it is essential that parents take an interest in educational activities involving video games in order to better perceive their educational nature and their impact on their children's learning.

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About the Author

Dominic leblanc
A graduate in sociology, Dominic Leblanc is an educational advisor in the Programs and Educational Development Department of the Cégep régional de Lanaudière in L'Assomption.

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