When the Player Becomes the Designer

January 5, 2018

Getting Students to Actively Engage in Gaming

 

One of the main complaints that parents voice about gaming is that kids spend hours a day engaged in passive consumerism rather than active creation. However, one of the upsides of having a gamer in your family is that they already understand the draw of gaming. They know what they like and what they don’t like about the games they play, and if asked, will offer an opinion about how to improve the games they play.

 

This provides parents and teachers with an “in” when it comes to getting kids to learn coding. Teachers who have included units on how to create, design, test and promote video games are not only teaching students coding skills, but are also giving them lessons on digital citizenship and entrepreneurship.  Additionally, students are able to combine skills from a range of classes (English, math, social studies, science) and demonstrate a holistic understanding of the materials rather than simply spewing back facts on a test.

 

Edgewood School Technology Coordinator, Lynn Koresh, offers a unit that involves all aspects of game creation and marketing. She has students begin with goal setting and storyboarding, then moves through game creation and evaluation before having the students do a three-second slide pitch at the end of the unit. One of the challenges she faced was getting students to effectively evaluate other students’ work (an essential skill in today’s workplace). She found that often times students provided brief positive feedback because they were concerned about their classmates getting bad grades. When Koresh shifted the question to ask, “Would you pay 99 cents for this app?” the feedback became more useful.

 

The lessons students learn as they plan, code and pitch their games extends far beyond the game itself and pushes students to think about audience and market as they develop critical thinking skills. And the best part of it all may be that kids will learn all of this while having fun!

 

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