Letting Students Design Video Games


Ed Tech Friday is a continuing discussion of the issues and concerns surrounding the implementation of technology in schools and classrooms. 

While some writers have lumped the incursion of videogames into classrooms into one category, sometimes mis-labelling the whole thing “gamification,” we are taking a look at three separate ways in which the world of videogames are becoming part of our educational system.

Last week we looked at how playing educational videogames has been used to help with teaching, engagement, and assessment.

Next week we will look at what gamification actually means, and how that process is being used in education.

This week we look at how some schools have added videogame design components to help engage students in the education process. This is distinct from the rapidly growing number of schools that teach videogame design specifically as a career or job skill.

The idea of letting students build videogames, as opposed to playing videogames is not that different than any kind of practical education course. One source for this trend is the Makers Movement, which advocates letting students build and design things as a way to teach problem solving. The idea is that this creative effort will also give students a desire to learn more about related subjects for which they can now see a greater need. Videogames aren’t particularly different than, say, letting students build customized iPhone cases.

Another driving factor is the idea that programming is a new type of basic literacy. Teaching students to create videogames is an engaging way to start them on programming. Some teachers are using a platform called Gamestar Mechanic to help students build their own games.

Anecdotally, there is a lot of evidence that giving students a project such as creating a videogame can engage those students who often struggle with traditional classroom formats.