Shortly after we started we realized that games should not only be something that you ‘plant’ into classroom and forget the students playing. Games should be more of an interactive and interconnected part of school work. After a year of gathering experiences and good practices from the field we started promoting our own ideology, a way games can be implemented into school work and what greater good it potentially serves.
Worry not, we are not indoctrinating teachers nor students, but we do have social impact goals and our products reflect those. These social impact goals are:
- Lowering the teacher authority in classrooms
- Creating curious and creative individuals through experiences and knowledge that follow up with their findings at home after school hours
and finally based on the first two:
- Making the school more democratic place where students feel that they are an important part of school work, development and decision making
Based on these three agendas we feel that school is also better equipped to teach the 21st century skills.
We encourage teachers to start with an intro lesson and after that to ask their students: ‘what can we teach with this game / games and how?’ This is the first step in getting your students more involved. Where you as a teacher might not be at your comfort zone with games, your students are and they hold massive amount of experiences and skills that exist and now it’s the time to put them to use.
Teachers can use these experiences to find connection to students’ own experiences and find ways to demonstrate certain phenomena from nature, science, history and many more. Your students can be a great resource in finding the best practices and they also learn valuable communication skills and they feel more involved in school work by doing so.
But what is also very important are the social skills we need in the digital world. And what are the problems we are currently facing in the everyday interaction online? There’s a lot of hate talk, griefing, cyber bullying and other dilemmas that make the headlines. Games are one of the environments where these things take place and you should not be afraid of using games in your classroom because of this. On the contrary this is your chance to be the adult, take a stand and take full benefit from that teachable moment you have in hand. Usually, these things go unseen by adults, they happen in the virtual space. Just ‘freeze’ the students and start the conversation. Games hold lot of emotions and these emotions are now visible in your classroom. ‘Why did you do something? Would you do that in real life? How did it make you feel?’ - are all valid questions and important conversation openers while dealing with social issues at school. This applies to when you are using games at school.
Young people everywhere know that they are learning from games. We use entertainment games like Minecraft and Kerbal Space Program because the students already play these games and know what you can do with them. The students are already experts and can work as co-teachers to help their peers.
Many people have asked us to produce more content. We think that teachers with their students creating and sharing ideas of lessons and experiences are just better equipped to do that job. Many times when there is no ‘tube’ where to place your students to just consume learning material, it opens up more possibilities for conversation between teachers and students and lets the students come up with more creative answers.
What we need in the future are more digital creators. However, many digital resources out there are mostly about consuming information rather than actually creating it. By not giving straight answers to teachers and completely ready learning experiences to students we try to encourage everyone to create more. Powerful learning experiences are hidden in the work processes, not in the final solutions and answers!
Games are a powerful medium for learning and the best way to start is to start a conversation in your classroom what games your students feel worthwhile for their school work and ask them to give a presentation of its uses.
Throw the ball to your students and be surprised how games can serve your work as a teacher!