Teaching with Technology: Harnessing the Power of Game-based Learning

Today’s students come to school from a world where they have always had technology. They have shorter attention spans, attempt to multi-task and have grown up in a multi-media world. If education is going to be successful today, teachers must pair learning best practices with technology in the classroom. However, teachers should not use technology just to say they are using technology. I like to think of technology as one of the many tools in my toolbox to help me reach my students. Before using technology, one must have an understanding of what the student needs to accomplish, and then decide if technology is the most effective means.

Today’s students grew up gaming and games are great tools to engage students. If you’ve never used game-based learning, you must realize that your classroom is going to be a little more chaotic and nosier than normal. I recommend beginning with simple games to review material.

One of the biggest challenges I face in my classroom is engaging students. Student achievement is higher when students are actively involved in their learning process. Here are some ways that I use game-based learning to engage my students:

  • SMART lab is my favorite game-based learning tool to use in the classroom because activities can be created in 5 minutes or less. SMART has provided lots of gaming concepts (spinners, pickers, dice, etc.) My students are always eager to participate when I use SMART lab.
  • Kahoot allows students to use mobile devices to demonstrate their knowledge of the material being covered in a trivia game show style. My students really like Kahoot and it can easily be incorporated into any subject.
  • Plickers is a simple tool that lets teachers collect real-time formative assessment without the need for student devices. Each student has a Plicker card that they use to answer questions by holding the card in the air. The instructor uses an app to scan the cards and get instant feedback. I like to use this as a ticket out the door activity or as a review of the previous day’s materials at the beginning of class. By using Plickers every student in the classroom has a voice and you can see which topics or concepts the students really understand and which ones you may need to spend time reviewing or re-teaching to the students.
  • Flipquiz provides educators with a quick way to create your own gameshow-style boards. Quick easy to use and my students really enjoy the “Add a random picker” from SMART Notebook and the students never know when they will be called on to answer a question.

To really get your students engaged in the activity, have them create the games for the class. My students enjoy the opportunity to identify the important topics and concepts and then develop the game activities. It has become a challenge to see who can stump the other students.

Using game-based learning activities in your classroom will not only engage your students, but hopefully will lead to increased achievement.

Try SMART Learning Suite with your students. 

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Kevin Willson
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About Kevin Willson

Kevin teaches Web Page Design, Economics and Entrepreneurship, Marketing and Management and Accounting I in York, Pennsylvania. A SMART Exemplary Educator, he also has two soccer playing children, and so when he's not working on school work you can usually find him on the side of a soccer field. Kevin and his wife Susan are Winnie the Pooh collectors.

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