Cracking the Code of Electronic Games: Some Lessons for Educators

by Gadi Alexander, Isabelle Eaton & Kieran Egan - 2010

Background/Context: Studentsí ready engagement in electronic games and the relative ease with which they sometimes learn complex rules have intrigued some educators and learning researchers. There has been growing interest in studying electronic gaming with the aim of trying to work out how learning principles that are evident in games can be harnessed to make everyday academic learning more engaging and productive. Many studies of studentsí learning while gaming have yielded recommendations for teaching and learning in regular classrooms.

Purpose/Objective/Research Question/Focus: The intent of this work is to describe various ways in which studentsí ready engagement in, and quick learning when playing, electronic games have been assumed to provide useful guidance to educators. This goal is pursued by means of analysis of the relevant research and the prescriptions for classroom teaching and learning that have emerged it. Close critical examination of these attempts to infer educational practices from electronic gaming yields three general strategies that have been pursued. The focus of this study has been on evaluating the relative value of these three general strategies.

Research Design: This is an analytic article that provides a description of an array of attempts to derive educational principles from the perceived success of studentsí learning while they are engaged in electronic games, a meta-analytic organization of these attempts into three general categories, and an evaluation of each of these categoriesí success in contributing to education or failure to do so.

Conclusions/Recommendations: The analysis leads to the conclusion that the three main approaches to understanding the connection between gaming and education have included, first, seeing games as teaching desirable learning skills through the simple act of playing; second, a focus on the integration of curriculum content into games; and, third, an effort to abstract learning principles embedded in electronic games and applying these to educational content. Close examination of each of these three approaches in turn leads to the conclusion that the third approach is the one that holds the greatest potential value for educational practice.

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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 112 Number 7, 2010, p. 1830-1850 ID Number: 15917, Date Accessed: 4/21/2021 9:04:27 AM

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