For a while I have been hesitant to write about games in education. I think it’s the old-school teacher in me. Or, maybe it’s the stigma attached to electronic games in school based on the common assumption that they present distractions from and not opportunities for meaningful learning. But recent research suggests otherwise. In fact, a 2009 MIT study suggests well-designed educational games are valuable tools for developing skills in communication, collaboration, problem-solving, and even innovation. Unfortunately, many educational games only present rote learning—repetition of addition and subtraction, for example. But some games are designed to encourage and support critical thinking. The BBC’s “State of Debate” is such a game. It is very well-designed, it is interactive, and it encourages students to think critically about persuasive arguments. Even hardened critics among us will see this one is a game worth playing in school.
In the classroom
In “State of Debate,” students are presented with a futuristic society where they must face problem situations that require the application of persuasive language skills. It would be very easy to connect this game to lessons about Aristotelian proofs–ethos, pathos, and logos. The more rhetorically skilled students become, the better they can “talk” themselves out of trouble. Another engaging element of the game is that the problems presented are specifically designed to engage teens with topics like dress code ethics and individuality.
If you are like me, you’ve been hesitant to use electronic games in the classroom, but maybe it’s time to try something new. “State of Debate” is an excellent game to get you started. I think you’ll be surprised by how effective games can be at supplementing your traditional instruction.
To read more about games in education, check out these links:
Social Gaming is Improving Education by Greg Ferenstein
Let the Games Begin by Jenn Shreve (Edutopia)
A New Role for Video Games in Education by Kara Miller