Before heading into using games in the classroom, there are a few considerations that are essential considerations. The biggest one surrounds understanding the culture of games, and from than developing a differentiated curriclum. Fun is not differentiation.
1. Physical structure of the setting
Video games are not played in physical groups, where everyone sits side by side.
2. Individual schedule
Play is an emotional activity, and the type of play (solo or group), who we play with and how often is a choice that game players make.
3. Individual work system
Gamers create systems of work using a range of tools, configurations and preferences. The more complex the game, the higher the need to create an individual system. For example: playing a game also invloves interacting with forums, websites, videos and people who are external to the classroom – constantly.
4. Routines and strategies
Games require very different strategies, not least social strategies and routines to optimise play experience. These are unlilkly to co-incide with those in the ‘traditional classroom’. How that is managed – without making play ‘un-fun’ is an art.
5. Visual organisation
Games are not orgnised in visual ways that are familiar or even related to ‘the desktop’. The more complex the game, the more individual the visual organisation will be. Students may have little or not experience of doing this, and additionally teachers may have no understanding of the game UX or the game-space.
6. Parent involvement
Parents should be involved to a greater extent. If parents don’t understand the power of play and games, expect a phone call.
7. Assessment Practices
Schools need to have a clear guide to understanding their students as ‘players’, customising the programming for each individual student, and monitoring outcomes so that games can be used to evidence achievement, knowledge and skill. Do not rely on in in-game scores or ‘badges’ as reliable indicators.
8. Cognitive Readyness
Cognitive readiness skills such as logging-in, pre-reading, communication, social, play, fine motor, imitation and group skills are all part of game-play.
9. Games are personal
Developing an individualized person and family-centered plan for each student, rather than using a standard curriculum. (see individual schedule)
10. Visual Supports
Make the sequence of ‘dailies’ predictable and understandable – don’t fall into the trap of thinking play is immediately productive or motivating, simply because games can be ‘fun’. These supports can be imaginative – earned, flexible and individual (ideally).