“Play is fundamentally important for learning 21st century skills, such as problem solving, collaboration, and creativity.” – American Academy of Pediatrics
“If we want our kids to have happy, productive, moral lives, we must allow more time for play, not less.” – Peter Gray, professor in psychology
“A child who does not play is not a child, but the man who does not play has lost forever the child who lived in him.” – Pablo Neruda, poet
It goes without saying that playing games when teaching a class is very important. However, despite this fact, many educators have a very vague idea about the importance of playing games in their classrooms. In this short article, we are going to highlight the benefits of playing games in online classrooms. So here are some of them:
Playing Games Online Helps Learners Reduce Stress and Tension
Truth be told, sometimes learning online can be difficult. It can be challenging to sit in front of a computer for an extended period. Your muscles can become sore, and you may have trouble thinking and concentrating on your class. Sometimes online education can lead to stress. And that is when games can help you. Playing games is directly associated with decreased stress levels – whether you are playing them in a face-to-face or online classroom. Scientists have discovered that people play online games, the amount of cortisol, the hormone of stress, is decreased in their blood. So, incorporating games in online classes can help your students stay focused and concentrated.
Games Elevate Learners’ Moods and Make Them More Engaged in Learning
Sitting in front of the computer can be challenging. But it can also be boring sometimes. If you feel that your students are bored, it is time to play some games! Online games will immediately captivate your students’ attention and help them increase their participation in class. If you teach online classes, you should aim to have at least one game at the beginning or at the end of your class. If you play a game at the beginning of the class, you can help your students warm up and prepare for the content of the class as well as active communication. If you play a game at the end of the class, you make a lasting positive impression on them about the class they have just and make them want to come back for more.
Playing Games Help Students Strengthen Their Knowledge of What They Learned
Indeed, after rigorous learning, towards the end of the class, many students may be tired and not very keen to do revision. Games can be an effective solution. Games such as Kahoot and Bamboozle will give back energy to students and help students go over the material.
Playing Games Help with Class Cohesion, Cooperation, and Healthy Competition
When children and learners are playing games in the classroom (especially if we are talking about online classrooms), students become more cooperative and cohesive. For example, if you play Bamboozle games you can divide your class into groups. This fact alone naturally promotes team building among students and pushes them to create strategies to win. Team building among students is especially important in online classes where learners are not sitting together but learning from their homes.
Playing Games in Online Classrooms Helps Students Overcome Their Fear of Failure
Indeed, many young learners can be real perfectionists and they can be overcome by the fear of failure. This, in turn, can have a negative impact on their education and learning progress overall. Such students tend to be very shy. They tend to refrain from participating in class discussions and giving their answers. They are simply worried that their answers will be perceived to be incorrect and that their teacher will not be happy about it. This is where games can help. Game-based learning creates a relaxed atmosphere, which encourages students to participate even if they may have the fear of failure. When students are swept away into the competitive game environment, they simply forget about their shyness and worries and start to produce excellent answers.
Playing Games in an Online Classroom Motivates Students and Provides Positive Reinforcement
It goes without saying that it is important to congratulate students on their success. Such kind words of encouragement help students take pride in their achievements and motivate them to do better. But unfortunately, teachers are simply not able to praise their students for every small thing they do throughout the class. And this is when games can help too. Students are encouraged and congratulated for every correct answer when playing games. That makes them more enthusiastic and encourages them to learn. So, if you are not sure how to provide your students with short-term rewards, games can be an excellent solution!
Games Can Help Students Approach and Grasp Challenging Material
Truth be told, some material taught in the classroom may be difficult to understand and process. Such material can be tough to deliver in online classrooms. So, if you feel that your students are struggling to absorb the new knowledge, make games devoted to the topic! Not only will it help your students understand new challenging concepts, but it will also make them more enthusiastic about the challenges they are facing.
Challenges of Incorporating Games in On-Line Learning
However, while games are important and crucial to the process of education, there are many challenges that teachers can face when integrating games into their classroom activities. For example, one of the challenges is the fact that the creation of games can take significant amounts of time. Another problem is that some games may require extra expenses on the part of the teacher. Some online games can be available at extra cost, which teachers may find undesirable. There are also other challenges. Here you can read about some of them:
Make Games Engaging and Consistent with Objectives and Learning Outcomes
One of the main objectives of games is entertainment, but when it comes to education games are also supposed to be aligned with the materials of the curriculum. So, while teachers can find some games online that suit the topics of their classes, sometimes they may have to create their own, unique games.
Creating an Appropriate Atmosphere Suitable for Gaming
Of course, many learners these days know how to navigate the Internet. They are also aware of the different online resources and games, and they will probably be welcoming of your attempts to incorporate games. However, some learners may not be as tech-savvy and may have difficulty understanding how to play certain games. So, make sure that you and your students are on the same page when it comes to online learning. Incorporating games in classroom activities may be even more challenging if both students and teachers are struggling with using technology.
Teachers May be Unaware of Advantages of Technology and the Availability of Games
Some teachers, for example, may not be aware of how pedagogically valuable such games can be or may be resistant to the idea that games are needed in the classroom. Such scepticism usually stems from the fact that they are not just familiar with the available games and or have never used them in the classroom. So that is why teachers and facilitators should educate themselves on what games are available on the Internet and how they can be beneficial to their classroom activities.
In this article, we have highlighted the main benefits associated with incorporating games into online classrooms. These benefits range from giving students extra motivation to helping them overcome their fear of failure and dispel the feeling of being bored. In this article, we have also discussed the main challenges associated with implementing games in online classrooms. We, as educators, should embrace games and realise that they are of immense help to us. If you are still not using games in your online classrooms, start doing that now.
Do some research on the games available on the Internet or check out our Shiminly blog and find more tips on what games to use in your online classroom.
Russ Gadzhiev obtained his PhD in history and politics from University of Melbourne. He also holds a master’s degree in International Relations from Moscow State University of International Relations, a top-ranking diplomatic school. Russ is a strong education professional with a history of working in the higher education sector of Australia and effectively communicates with learners from diverse cultural backgrounds. He is enthusiastic about teaching and mentoring, writing, curriculum development, research, information management and public speaking. He is fluent in Russian, English, Spanish and Portuguese.