In my upcoming book I talk about the importance of teacher support for educational games. It is the 3rd pillar in my 4PEG model.
In order to gain acceptance in a traditional classroom, GBL ‘objects’ need to be “canned”, meaning they need to include everything a teacher might need to take it in to the classroom and use it right away. This is in no way meant to be critical. Teachers don’t have time to prepare lessons very often. Dedicated teachers especially don’t have time because they are busy helping their students.
Over the years I have become quite convinced that most games will never even get a second look in a traditional setting without the following three things:
- Curricular Ties: Teachers are often under tremendous pressure to make “good” use of their class time. If they can’t show that this game can meet a required curricular objective, their principal is likely to tell them they can’t use it. (This is part of the second pillar)
- Assessment Connections: The forms of assessment provided by the game must align with the assessment currently being used in the class. If it doesn’t, then the designers need to make explicit connections between the in-game assessment (scoring, leveling up, etc.) and the assessment being used in the class. (This is also part of the second pillar)
- Teacher Support: This one’s huge. Teacher’s simply don’t have time to play a bunch of games on the off chance they might end up being useful in one of their classrooms. If this information is not supplied with the game, most teachers won’t give the game a second look. If we expect them to use the game in class, then we need to provide lesson plans and other materials.
Example: I did a Google search (Just now – August 4 2015) using these two terms: webquest flight. The result: About 84,800 results (0.38 seconds). The first page of hits included several ready-to-use webquests about flight. They included grade level, activities, evaluation – basically everything I needed to use that lesson in my classroom tomorrow. It took a total of 3 minutes to find them, have a quick look at them, and pick one I could use tomorrow. Then I did another search: “educational game” flight air. I even put quotes around “educational game” to narrow the search. I had to add the word “air” because without it I got a lot of links to a games about refugees and fleeing. This is the result. There are some games that involve airplanes, but they are all drill games – the plane is the wrapping, not the subject. I got NOTHING that was of any use to me for tomorrow’s class. While I think there are quite a lot of games out there that have educational potential – both big and small, VERY few of them are useful immediately. Almost all of them require the teacher to play the game, analyse it, and build a lesson from scratch, including assessments that the principal will approve of AND ties to the required curriculum so that the use of that game can be justified to administration.
If you are a builder of educational games, be sure to include teacher support.