Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Electronic Learning Game Misunderstanding

I've talked with teachers and hired a certain monkey to conduct the official surveys. Some teachers use electronic learning games in their classrooms, but we know others would rather kneel on wasabi peas for 72 hours for some reason. So of course, some teacher stores and catalog companies are reluctant to carry these instructional tools. (Hmm, I suddenly don't like where this post is headed.)

Okay, but I'm always on a need-to-know basis. Some might call me nib nose, information hog, hungry ear--whatever. (I was the annoying kids in school who always asked why? why? why?) I had to research why some teachers don't use electronic learning games.

Guess what my surveys revealed? It turns out that most of the reasons are simple misunderstandings! (Oh crappy dap--I just hate it when that happens!) Here, have a look...

Teachers' top objections to electronic games:

1. Electronic games are just toys.
HUH? Sure, some are just toys, but many electronic games cover a variety of key educational skills at multiple levels, giving them the learning power of a stack of board games! (Teachers love educational board games, right? No one argues that they're just toys!) I'm actually the person who manages the correlation of Learning Resources electronic games to the specific skills in the state standards, so I know how well they align!

2. High-tech gadgets such as electronic games are just a novelty/trend.
Ridiculous! In a recent national survey conducted by an ed organization, students reported that they feel they must "power down" at school--so unfortunate! They live their everyday lives in the technology age (laptops, cell phones, texting, PDAs, YouTube, Facebook, etc.), but when they go to school, it all comes to a grinding halt!

As teachers, we need to constantly try current methods and materials to best reach our students. I would even go as far as to say that most kids nowadays have an electronic learning style, and that integrating electronic games into our lesson plans is the least we teachers can do to meet them half way.

3. Electronic games encourage anti-social behavior.
I agree that anti-social isolation is bad and that students shouldn't stick their faces in front of computer screens all day every day. However, not all electronic games are computer-based. What about the tabletop and jumping mat versions that encourage multiple players to interact together? I think those versions are best. For example, take a look at this video of Alpha-Bug Step 'n' Spell® in action:
(BTW, there are some good quality computer learning games that encourage student interaction, too.)

4. I don't have a computer (or enough computers) in my classroom!
Again, not all electronic learning games require a computer. There are awesome electronic mats and small, portable games that target key educational skills. Give 'em a try, folks!

5. I don't have time or money to deal with technical difficulties and batteries!
Yes, sometimes life doesn't go as planned, but if we don't use something because we're afraid it will break, where does that get us? What does that teach our students about trying new things?
Just be sure to choose electronic games manufactured by a reputable company. Most will guarantee their products, and many offer replacement instruction guides and game parts.

If your supplies budget is too small to cover batteries, look for electronic games with optional AC adapters. I also know a teacher whose local big box store donated batteries to her classroom right before the beginning of the school year. It doesn't hurt to ask!

To check out Learning Resources electronic learning games, visit:

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