Media has been shaping our society since the era of print. Print gave way to radio, and radio to television. Now, television is giving way to a new medium, video games. Video games control a market that rivals big movie production, and draws the attention of billions around the world. Can this new medium be harnessed to better education? In fact, videogames are having a positive effect in today’s classroom. Case studies of educational games show student test scores are improving, students are receiving constant and immediate feedback, and students are expecting new technology in school. Society is fascinated with new technology, and it would be tragic not to use the latest technological means to educate our future generations.
Case studies to determine the effectiveness of educational video games have been conducted at all academic levels. David McDivitt, a history teacher at Oak Hill High School in Indiana, conducted a study of the educational video game Making History. He used his own history class, 110 students comprising five classes. Three classes totaling 65 students played Making History, and two classes totaling 45 students were designated as control groups. McDivitt started his study with a pretest covering his educational objectives: European geography, the Munich Conference, comparisons of Soviet communism and Nazi Germany, and the reason behind WWII. The study was conducted for one week. Students in the control classes received traditional instruction, involving textbooks, reading assignments, and in-class discussions; the test group played Making History, and conducted classroom discussion. They did not receive any lecture, nor open a text book. The test group did exceedingly well in all objectives. It is also noteworthy that the test group did not perform below the control group on any objective. Additionally, McDivitt found that the essay answers provided by the test group were more thorough and thoughtful (McDivitt, 2011). McDivitt’s study clearly shows the advantages of using a video game in the classroom. Although Making History was a success in McDivitt’s classroom, are other educational games as effective?
Dr. Sasha Barab a professor in learning sciences, and instructional systems technology is continually assessing his educational game project, Quest Atlantis (QA) (Barab, 2011). QA is an international teaching project that immerses learners into 3D, multi-user environments. QA uses commercial video game strategies to drive learning objectives. In QA, users create an avatar and travel to virtual places performing educational activites or “Quests.” This world allows teachers to assign quests, or allow the user free reign on their travels. Users also have the ability to talk to one another and/or a mentor (Quest Atlantis, 2011).
Over 50,000 students have participated in the QA project. Dr. Barab, reports learning gains in science, language arts, and social studies (Quest Atlantis, 2011). In a...