Twenty years ago, students found to be playing video games at school were often disciplined. That didn’t stop kids from playing Pokémon under their desks, squinting at the screen, devoid of fancy things like backlights. If you were lucky, you’d have one of those cheap add-ons that clipped onto the top, shining a light straight down so you could see all twenty-odd of Charmander’s pixels in perfect clarity.
Gaming in schools back then was largely limited to condescending “Edutainment” – games specifically built around trying to teach students things in heavy-handed, technically uninspired ways. Baldi’s Basics in Education & Learning is a spoof of how these games would look, albeit, with a horror twist – lurid colours, basic 3D renders, and an endless procession of math problems.
Recently, the focus has begun to shift. Education as a whole is starting to realise that the solution is not just to “gamify” learning, although recent attempts at educational games like Numbots for younger students are doing a better job of it. Rather than building games to educate, we should be asking – what do games already teach us?
Minecraft is probably the greatest and most obvious example of this. The base game already encourages planning, creativity, and cooperation. Whilst none of these skills are part of a standard curriculum in schools nobody can deny that they’re immensely valuable to any individual, and Minecraft presents an incredibly organic and engaging way to nurture them in young minds.
In 2016, Mojang launched Minecraft: Education Edition, which is currently used by school educators across over 115 countries. This version of the game baked learning into the immersive Minecraft experience, allowing students to study a range of topics like computer science and chemistry in interactive ways. The game’s impact has been studied extensively, and the results have always shown marked improvements in vital areas. Problem-solving is one area in particular that learning via Minecraft consistently improves, and this is likely because it’s being presented in a fun, team-based environment.
It’s also encouraging students to learn more about what makes these games work in the first place, by offering basic coding lessons using Python. Not only is this an increasingly important skill to have as technology becomes more and more integrated with our day-to-day lives, but it also fosters curiosity and the desire to explore the way things work. Many people take the complex work required to create games and technology for granted, simply enjoying the end product.
Gaming in schools via this model introduces students to the elements that make them tick at an early age, in a colourful and easily digested manner. In a complicated time, gaming and technology have allowed education to flourish, where it would have outright stalled before.
Essay writer services have risen to prominence as the link between technology and education has grown stronger and stronger. The media typically portrays these services as fraudulent industries out to exploit lazy students who don’t want to put the work in, but in actual fact, they’re completely legal, often staffed by teams of expert writers. Essay writing services – like those at custom-writing.co.uk – provide model essays for students to work from, helping them get to grips with the harder elements of academic writing like structure, referencing, and formatting.
Sfexaminer.com recently covered five of the most reputable academic services currently available in 2021, covering key features that set them apart. If you’re looking for academic assistance, their post is a great place to start.
We’re basically at the beginning of gaming’s implementation in schools all over the world. What started with The Magic Schoolbus and Zoombinis has evolved into immersive 3D environments in which students can learn and play at the same time, learning vital life skills that aren’t typically included in traditional learning plans. It’s not a gimmick – it’s the future.
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