Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Digital Games: Entertainment or Education?

Whether digital games can be applied in L2 classrooms has long been a controversial issue among teachers and scholars. Some people think playing video games is a time-consuming entertaining practice, which might also increase the likelihood of making the kids more aggressive, while others maintain that certain video games of educational value can be employed in instructional settings. For example, serious games may facilitate students' learning, enabling them to solve problems and acquire certain knowledge or skills while playing. Similarly, strategy games ask for tactics and decision-making skills to win either individually or collectively. Hence, I think digital games are not 100% an evil. As teachers, we need to figure out the suitable genre and theme for the students to target our teaching objectives, if we want to employ cyber games in our classroom. 

I have tried SUPERBETTER (recommenced in Game for Change) for a couple of days which I found a pretty great game for people to stay healthy physically, mentally, emotionally and socially. It really can change one's life little by little through a series of little actions, because there are lots of good ideas and healthy tips in this games, enabling players to transform their attitudes and life gradually. Hence, students can use game strategies to create a super better self. I think this game can be used in my future class room. The theme of the unit is Staying Healthy. 

The teaching objectives is that students need to be able to use  visual notes or diagrams (clusters for example), to illustrate different aspects in terms of staying healthy according to this game. Also, they should be able to collect and prioritize detailed suggestions from the game for maintaining physical, mental, emotional and social resilience. The linguistic teaching objective is to be able to use past tense to demonstrate their old habits and use present tense to say the change they do. As for the functional perspective, students need to be able to give suggestions by using functional phrases and structures.  

I will give the students a rubric and all the requirements in terms of the format for the visual aid, grammar especially using the correct tenses to show the contrast between the past and present, vocabulary relating health issue, coherence and cohesion in presenting a systematic topic, functional phrases in giving suggestions will be listed. If the time is limited and students' proficiency level is limited, group work or peer work can be conducted. Hence, self-assessment and peer assessment can be applied. 

Suggested video: Jane McGonigal: Gaming can make a better world


  1. I haven't played the game, so I'm not sure how the visual aid rubric would work, but it sounds like an idea worth pursuing. At what site would the students create a visual aid?

  2. As for how to ask students to create visual aids, I think I have two solutions. For those technology maniacs, I suggests, because it is a very popular website to create info-graphics, which has become a trend to present data and ideas. Alternatively, they can use For those who are not into online technologies, they can just draw their ideas trees on a piece of paper by hand. For example, they can create a cluster and add some simple pictures to present what they have learned from the game. Either way is okay, as long as they get the message in the game and present them in an organized way with their best efforts.