Instructors get their game on

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By Chris Wolf

RCC language instructors try their hands at a game of Jeopardy during the “Teaching with computer games” presentation. (Khai Le)

By Chris Wolf

Video games may soon be a new tool for teachers.

Riverside City College World Languages instructor Kathy Kelly held a workshop April 27 for instructors as well as students, demonstrating the unique educational advantage video games can serve in the classroom.

“I don’t pretend to be an expert on games,” Kelly said. “What I do know is that (games) help students improve their grades, especially test scores.”

As methods of teaching have become increasingly mechanical and linear, assaulting students with an endless amount of multiple choice tests, video games sound like the obvious answer to keeping them interested.

Instead of memorizing facts out of a book, students actually think while engaged in the game they’re trying to beat.

Kelly was set on making them a part of her teaching curriculum when she made a discovery.

“Students’ scores on exams were much better than in previous classes,” she said.

When posed with the question of whether or not games should be used as an all-encompassing educational tool, or if there is a limit to what they can teach, Kelly noted that she thought it was a supplementary tool, to be used in conjunction with traditional teaching tools.

“I think it causes students to study more,” Kelly said. “Games motivate.”

Now, you might think that games are far too difficult to utilize in an educational environment, since there is a technological barrier.

Fortunately, the games that Kelly showcased were very simple, and consisted of mostly Powerpoint-created quizzes and online Flash and Java-based games.

The attendees in the workshop got the chance to play one such game, an RCC-themed version of Jeopardy.

Seeing instructors hopping around, trying to buzz in first and shout out the answer was humorous to the attendees, especially when they didn’t say “What/who is” before saying the answer, and therefore not getting the point.

Kelly showed many instructors at her workshop just how valuable video games in the learning environment can be. If educators have the right resources, games can become a cheap, reasonably simple tool that will increase interest in any given subject.

If the game is designed correctly, students shouldn’t feel like they’re learning; they’ll be too busy playing.

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