This month the Joan Ganz Cooney Center started a video series on Youtube featuring case studies of teachers who teach with games. One of the featured teachers, Ginger of Quest2Learn in New York, talks about the stereotype that when kids play video games, they are passive learners, consumers of media. In Q2L, students game in a very interactive and kinesthetic way. This video shows footage of kids playing in SmaLLab, a digital space where they can physically move around digital projections as part of a room-wide digital game.
The shift from video games as being something that people play with headphones, staring at monitors, to interactive, tactile, social experiences is very exciting for education. Platforms like the Wii and the Kinect, products like Sifteo cubes, and spaces like SmaLLab allow students to exhibit a range of skills that combine digital navigation with physical cooperation and interaction. This allows for learners of many types to process and think critically about new information in a number of ways, be them kinesthetic, exploratory, social, individual, etc. In this Teaching with Games video, Ginger talks about her students with learning disabilities connecting to this blend of digital and physical play.
This playlist also features a video about a teacher using MinecraftEDU in his classroom. A great point in this one is that teaching with games is not the same practice as “free play”; kids need to be scaffolded and taught how to effectively learn from a game. Another feature focuses on a teacher who made “natural” switch from board games to digital games. She talks about how by observing gameplay, she can discern which students are critically thinking about the learning material and which still need help understanding the concepts.