Monday, August 20, 2012

Integrating Fun into the Classroom

By Sean Scarpiello

As the beginning of the school year quickly approaches, teachers are looking for creative ways to integrate new technology into the curriculum. Now that many schools have invested in the latest laptops and iPads, teachers need to decide which educational programs and applications to use in class. While most of the different software teaches the same material, teachers are stepping into the shoes of students to determine which programs will be the most effective in class. Aside from the scope of material being taught using these digital programs, teachers are finding that they need to take into account other factors such as clarity, difficulty, and entertainment value. From a teacher’s perspective, it is important to take into account all of these factors, especially entertainment, because if students can have fun while they learn, they will learn even more.

One of the best types of programs to incorporate fun into the curriculum is digital programs that are game based. Video games are huge right now so if teachers can bring the fun and competitiveness of video games into a learning environment, students will naturally learn more. Many students are innately competitive, so if students’ homework is getting to level 8 in a math adventure game or getting 2,000 points in a grammar puzzle, students will not view the homework as work. There are tons of different educational games on the market today, especially technology based games. Some of the cool games for students are adventure games where they explore vast digital worlds but must answer math questions to move around their surroundings. There are also many games where students race against the clock to answer questions in math, grammar, science, history, and more.

These sorts of game-based education programs will be effective because they allow students to learn interactively. They can pick up the basics of the class material from the teacher, but then test their skills on a colorful computer screen, rather than a bland worksheet. Also through this type of learning, students will be driven to get the farthest in the class or gain the highest amounts of points. Even though the students are driven to beat the game or be the best, they are also becoming self-motivated to learn. In fact, many students may enjoy the game-based education so much that they forget that they are learning. This keeps students actively engaged in their studies without becoming bored or struggling to find uses for education in the real world. Students will actually end up learning more than they thought they would. In addition, they may not view school as boring or intimidating.

Teachers will also enjoy the games because they can find that their students are more engaged in class and in homework. Also, since the programs are computer-based, teachers can monitor and track the progress of their students. This allows teachers to base their lesson plans around the difficulties of the class as a whole, as well as target the individuals who are struggling. This sort of individualized education comes with all technology based education programs and is beneficial for both the teacher and the student.

In all, the game-based educational software would definitely be a good choice for teachers to integrate into their curriculum. They keep students active in the learning process and ensure they do not get discouraged or bored. Throughout the summer, a lot of these students are entertained through video game systems, so why not carry on that entertainment into the classroom. Here, students will have fun, while learning more than they thought imaginable.

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