Something I’ve noticed when I talk about educational games and how to use games in education is that teachers often have a very special approach to games. Teachers often see games as something you can put in students hands in order to keep them occupied. This means that the teachers themselves believe they do not need to be familiar with or guide and teach when students play. They simply see the games as a way to engage students without having to commit to it themselves. This is where the problem arises because the games themselves can’t stand on their own feet and the knowledge the game teaches needs to be lifted and made visible for the students by the teacher.
Simple math games and other educational games are often very appreciated and the students think it is fun to play, but often they learn the games mechanics and therefore they do not learn the content of knowledge that the game wants to deliver. This is where the role of the teacher comes in because the teacher must highlight the knowledge and show it to the students so that they can put it in its proper context. The teacher can not adopt a passive role when students are playing educational games. Teachers must be committed and well-informed about what skills the game wants the students to develop. During or after the playing session the teacher can discuss with students and raise awareness of what they actually learnt which the game is not always able to. Many teachers are not really willing to take over the active role because they see gaming as something that occupies the students while so that the teacher can focus on and catch up on other duties while the students are busy with the game. It’s probably also many teachers who feel insecure in the role of mediator between the student and games because they are not as familiar with playing games and the IT tools available.
It is important to put emphasis on the word tool in terms of IT tools because it is exactly what it is. It is up to us teachers to learn to manage these tools so that we ultimately can teach students how to handle them in a healthy and pro educational ways. Such as crafts teachers doesn’t put tools in the hands of students without the teacher themselves having the know-how how they work. And before the student can access the tool, the crafts teacher instructs the students how to use it. If students do not learn how to use their IT tools like computers and tablets in school they will only use it for casual netsurfing and gaming and that will fill their school day. I think that’s why many teachers feel like the students are ”just playing” and ”checking Facebook” on their iPads and computers in school, and its probably because the teachers have not created any other venues for the use of IT tools for the students. Could it be that it is the teacher’s own uncertainty and approach to these tools that create these habits in students? Will it be different if the teacher is familiar with what the students are doing and feel a sense of security in the use of IT tools because they have engaged and there for haven an understanding in their functions and its uses? Its not until the teacher is curious, involved and interested that the teacher can use the tools and games to their advantage and turn them into something positive because the teacher is confident in how he or she is able to use the IT tools in education to their advantage.