Leveraging PK-12 Curricular Outcomes through Gaming

Wed, Jul 9, 2014

Distance Learning, Uncategorized

Dr. Tammy Lynn Woody
Director of Continuous Program Improvement, School of Education at American Public University

A movement that continues to gain momentum is the incorporation of gaming into PK-12 instructional settings. Recently, I received an article from eCampus news in my inbox entitled “Should every educator also be a gamer?” This title made me think about a variety of topics including: instructional design; infusing lessons with elements of gaming that make learning more enjoyable; meeting technology standards; lifelong learning and professional development for educators; and student buy-in of academic learning outcomes.

I have to admit that I haven’t always supported this approach to teaching, but I’m slowly embracing the fact that there are important lessons to be learned from gaming psychology that are applicable to our nation’s classrooms. The structure and format of video games give learners immediate feedback and are personalized to the skill level of the individual. Learners also experience a sense of control over the pace of a game and are highly engaged. It would be wonderful to apply these qualities into academic settings.

My dissertation topic was elementary school counselors’ perceptions of student exposure to violent video games, so it has been challenging for me to consider the positive ramifications of playing video games. My personal journey toward the acceptance of the use of gaming in public education started with the suggestion of a fellow school counselor; she and I had co-presented about what it means to be a 21st century school counselor. She suggested that we look at how school counselors might take advantage of the prevalence of playing video games to support counseling outcomes. Preparation for that presentation helped me to positively reframe and see the benefits of video games.

For me, as the old saying goes, the proof is in the pudding. For example, my counselor colleague shared her experiences incorporating pro-social video gaming into her individual and group sessions. She continues to look for ways to harness the benefits of gaming to increase academic and social proficiencies. I attended conference sessions on the value of pro-social video games with certain populations such as students who have autism spectrum disorders. Through this exposure I came to understand the opportunities, instead of focusing on negative implications, through incorporating video games (or at least the principles of gaming) into academic settings.

This has inspired me to ensure that through my work in the School of Education at APU we develop educator preparation programs that produce effective and innovative PK-12 teachers, building administrators, and school counselors to consider all available avenues that support PK-12 student learning outcomes, including gaming and the use of social media. Today’s education professionals must be equipped to harness all possible avenues that support student learning.

A colleague recently mentioned how much her children enjoy playing Minecraft and how educational it can be. A few days later, I noticed an article about Minecraft being used in schools to engage and empower students. Exploration on this topic led me to the TeacherGaming website which features “MinecraftEdu.”

While this gives me a great deal of food for thought, I’m curious about how other educators (and soon to be educators) view this trend. I’d love to hear from others who have incorporated video games or elements of gaming psychology into their classrooms.

About the Author

Dr. Tammy Lynn Woody is the Director of Continuous Education Program Improvement in the School of Education at American Public University. She has been with APU for more than six years and has functioned in a variety of roles including: certification officer, field experience coordinator, school counseling program director, and school-wide director. Prior to joining the APU team, she served in numerous capacities in PK-12 education including: lead preschool teacher, substitute teacher, and professional school counselor. Her doctorate in curriculum & instruction was completed through West Virginia University while she was a member of the Eastern Panhandle doctoral cohort. She currently holds professional school counselor certification in both West Virginia and Virginia and serves on numerous regional educational boards and committees.

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