Week 5: Games make kids want to learn?

For this week’s blog, we needed to find information and research on confirming or refuting Matera’s claims on gamification.  One question came immediately to my mind, and that is what percentage of students play “games”? There are numerous websites and research dedicated to “video games”, but not that many for traditional games such as board games.  Financially speaking, the video game industry in the United States generates approximately $20.5 billion, and ranked number one in the world for total sales. (Newzoo, 2014). It was a little more difficult to get an approximate sales amount for traditional games.  I found out that Hasbro is a company that has subsidiaries that develop, produce, and sell games.  According to their latest financial report, they generated $1.28 billion in sales in the United States.  (Hasbro, 2015).  This is consistent with many peoples’ opinion of video games being more popular than traditional games.  This, of course, does not take into account games played in the playground, or athletics in schools.  But it gave me a good indication that “games” means “video games.”

The Pew Research Center conducts many surveys, and I have come across some interesting facts about games, technology, teens, and adults.  72% of all teens play video games: 84% of boys, and 59% of girls. (Lenhart, et al., 2015).  Interestingly, 49% of adults play video games: 50% of males, 48% of females.  (Duggan, 2015).  This drop is most likely attributed to other activities that adults engage in that they don’t in their teens.  There is quite a large difference in the percentages between teen boys and girls that play video games it would be difficult to assume that teens in general like to play games.  There was an indication that teen boys are more likely to develop and maintain friendships through gaming than girls: 84% of boys, 62% of girls.  (Lenhart, et al., 2015). They build stronger connections between friends, are more relaxed and happy, and feel connected with people even though they are not friends yet.  Interestingly, girls are more likely to spend time with friends daily via messaging and social media than boys.

There were some mixed feelings and uncertainty about video games for the general public.  About 59% feel they are a waste of time for most games, or some games.  64% feel that games help develop good problem solving skills for most games, or some games.  47% feel that games promote teamwork and communication for most games, or some games.  (Duggan, 2015).  It was ironic to discover that games are a waste of time, but help with problem solving, teamwork, and communication.  I know these results are specifically related to video games in general for adults.  I’m sure kids would not have the same feelings about video games, but it does have positive effect for teen boys as stated earlier.

Since our research involves learning, I wanted to list some facts about the use of technology in learning, primarily for adults.  We encourage a wide variety of methods, pedagogies, and emerging technologies for learning for students in K-12, but little is known about what happens after high school graduation.  Adults, in general, are not aware of new digital platforms and methods of learning.  For example, 61% of adults have little or no awareness of distance learning.  79% of adults do not have much awareness of Khan Academy, which provides video lessons and practice in concepts of math, science, humanities, and language.  80% do not have much awareness of massive open online courses that are offered by companies and universities.  Finally, 83% of adults do not have much awareness of digital badges that can certify if someone has mastered an idea or a skill. (Horrigan, 2016).

There are a variety of factors that are tied to learning. Those with more formal education are more likely than others to pursue learning activities.  Those who live in households with more income are more likely to be personal and professional learners.  Whites are more likely to have pursued learning activities more than African Americans and Hispanics.  Finally, those who have both home broadband and smartphones are more likely than those with no internet or just one connection to take advantage of learning opportunities.  (Horrigan, 2016).

What does this all mean to me?  Games should not be considered the key element in engaging people to learn.  Even if you enjoy games, if a gamified course is offered, that doesn’t imply you will enjoy the course.  There is too large a discrepancy in the percentage of boys vs. girls that play games, and that may hinder a girl’s experience with a gamified course, and to be honest, a boy’s experience.  I understand the importance of engaging students in learning, and gamifying a course is a viable alternative to a traditional course.  To learn that adults, who are most likely parents/guardians of students, aren’t aware of the possibilities of using technology for learning, and have reservations about schools using games to help in learning because they are a waste of time, it’s difficult to incorporate these new emerging technologies in the class with full support of parents/guardians.  We are facing an uphill battle.  It’s great that boys develop connections and maintain friendships through games, and it would be great for that to continue in a gamified course.  This does not occur for girls at the same rate though.

Finally, the discrepancies in the factors that affect lifelong learning for all adults, I think, will trickle down to their children and almost inevitably affect their learning too.  My intention is not to endorse gamification, but to face some realities that are apparent currently in society.  As stated above, we face an uphill battle and it will take courage, diligence, stamina, and creativity to make gamification successful.  I will do what I can to increase engagement in learning, and hope that students will have a drive and willingness to go along with the ride and be successful.

References:

Matera, Michael. Explore Like a Pirate: Engage, Enrich, and Elevate Your Learners with Gamification and Game-inspired Course Design (Kindle). Dave Burgess Consulting, Inc. Kindle Edition.

Duggan, Maeve. (2015). Gaming and Gamers. Pew Research Center. [PDF]. Retrieved from http://www.pewinternet.org/2015/12/15/gaming-and-gamers/

Horrigan, John B. (2016). Lifelong Learning and Technology. Pew Research Center. [PDF] Retrieved from http://www.pewinternet.org/2016/03/22/lifelong-learning-and-technology/

Top 100 Countries Represent 99.8% of $81.5Bn Global Games Market. (2014). NewZoo. Retrieved from https://newzoo.com/insights/articles/top-100-countries-represent-99-6-81-5bn-global-games-market/

Hasbro Reports Revenue, Operating Profit and Net Earnings Growth for Full-Year 2015. (2015). Hasbro. Retrieved from http://investor.hasbro.com/releasedetail.cfm?releaseid=953697

Lenhart, Amanda, Smith, Aaron, Anderson, Monica, Duggan, Maeve, Perrin, Andrew, Teens, Technology & Friendships. [PDF]. Retrieved from http://www.pewinternet.org/2015/08/06/teens-technology-and-friendships/

 

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4 thoughts on “Week 5: Games make kids want to learn?

  1. Gerald- This is so interesting what you say here, “There was an indication that teen boys are more likely to develop and maintain friendships through gaming than girls: 84% of boys, 62% of girls.  (Lenhart, et al., 2015). They build stronger connections between friends, are more relaxed and happy, and feel connected with people even though they are not friends yet.  Interestingly, girls are more likely to spend time with friends daily via messaging and social media than boys.” I also see why it is a uphill battle for us because of what you said about adults are not aware of new digital platforms and methods of learning. It will take a lot of work to convince parents that this is the new way of learning. Their generation learned a different way, we need to adapt to this new net generation and bring that into our classrooms.

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  2. Gerald,
    My mind goes directly to “video games” when I’m thinking of games as far as school and my daughter and grandchildren. When I play games with our friends who are from the Boomer Generation, my mind goes straight to card games and sometimes board games. Is there an online version of cribbage? My dad and I used to play this game repeatedly. It kept his mind strong.

    In my readings, I am aware of some of the comments about video games being a waste of time. However, I became educated myself as I read how in games like World of Warcraft (which I have not seen in action) requires the more experienced player to not only challenge others, but to invite people new to the game and be a leader who networks 40 players to work together! Can this be applied to Environmental Science? I would definitely give this a resounding yes. Your point about making parents more aware is so important. Sometimes grandparents are just as involved with the student’s education as their parents. Maybe they need to be invited in to see just how gamifying the classroom, especially as a theme, is tied to their learning.

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  3. Hi Gerald,
    I agree with you that we need to “increase engagement in learning” as teachers. And the elements of gamification can be applied to help us do that, but it’s still only a tool to use, not the magic bullet.

    I appreciated all the statistics. Those were not something I came upon in my research. I found it so interesting that the numbers of adults having knowledge of online learning, Khan Academy and MOOCs was so low! As most of my students are adults in online classes my experience is probably skewed.
    There are probably distinctions to be made among and within “video games”, because some of them might be a waste of time. I’m not sure what my hours-upon-hours playing Tetris back in the day have gained me in my adult life (OK, maybe bragging rights), but I did play some early role playing games that required strategy, communication and teamwork that WERE probably helpful. I am not currently a gamer. I prefer to cook and browse Pinterest :-).

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  4. You wrote about many interesting ideas, your question about how many students actually play games, is a great guiding question. You wrote:”There were some mixed feelings and uncertainty about video games for the general public. About 59% feel they are a waste of time for most games, or some games.” This week I mentioned to a colleague that I was taking a UAS course on gamifiaction and she asked me a few questions about what gamification is. I started to wonder, how many teachers would view using gamification a waste of time? And how many parents would have an issue with using gamification their child’s classroom?

    Like

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