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Evaluating Educational Games--Just Do It

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Math video game characters Do you know how most people evaluate educational games? Quite simply--they don't. For example, consider Dragon Box, an affordable, highly engaging, and extremely educational math video game on algebra. If Dragon Box were a car, it would probably be named Car of the Year. So what percentage of algebra teachers or parents do you think will be adding it to their toolbox this year? At a rough guess: probably less than one percent. ST Math, Dreambox, and Big Brainz are three other great programs that can make a significant impact on children's education. Yet how many math teachers or principals have even heard of these programs? And how many have taken steps to evaluate them to see if they're truly helpful?

math video games, characters, Big Brainz, Imagine Learning Math video game characters

Do you know how most people evaluate educational games?

Quite simply--they don't.

For example, consider Dragon Box, an affordable, highly engaging, and extremely educational math video game on algebra. If Dragon Box were a car, it would probably be named Car of the Year.

So what percentage of algebra teachers or parents do you think will be adding it to their toolbox this year? At a rough guess: probably less than one percent.

ST Math, Dreambox, and Big Brainz are three other great programs that can make a significant impact on children's education. Yet how many math teachers or principals have even heard of these programs? And how many have taken steps to evaluate them to see if they're truly helpful?

Of course, it takes time even for good things to gain traction.

Perhaps those who invented penicillin or a came up with a cure for polio felt the same way in their day. Are today's high-end gaming inventors much different? Those drugs save lives. And the right educational games save kids' lives academically.

Just remember--the savviest people (from parents to school superintendents) seek out, evaluate, and implement quality educational solutions, including educational technology that can really make a difference in the world.

Judge Game-Based Educational Tools Fairly

Teachers quite rightly wonder how (or if) a game-based educational video can teach problem solving in the same way as traditional methods.

Says James Paul Gee (expert in the field of video gaming within learning and literacy):

 

"When students use facts and information to solve problems, they both gain facts and information and learn to solve problems. Games are one good way to do this, because a video game is problem solving with lots of practice, feedback, and assessment."
Big Brainz, educational games, video games in classroom, Imagine This

Mr. Gee also notes that games requiring mathematical or linguistic skill may require students solving very specific problems along the way. The biggest challenge for designers is making kids excited about learning. According to Gee, "(s)uch games do not make kids hyper, though they can bore them if they are not well designed." (Read more)

In the end, no one aims to--or wants to--replace real-world learning with a game.

But by choosing game-based educational tools fairly, you're the one in the driver's seat when it comes to 21st-century learning.

 

How do you feel about video games in the classroom? Share your thoughts below.

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