Children learn best when the content is relevant to them and when they can make connections between new and old material. Sometimes it can be challenging to make these connections, but using games can help. Games can help strengthen teacher to student and student to student relationships. Children like playing games because they can have fun while they are learning. Teachers like games because they help boost students’ academic confidence and develop their social and problem-solving skills (“Teaching with Games”, n.d.).
Both games and gamification have been used for educational purposes from preschool all the way through higher education. They are useful because they are engaging and motivate the learners (Young, 2016). Motivating students to learn, especially in topics that do not initially interest them, can be a challenge for all educators especially for library instructors. I have yet to meet an elementary student who loves to learn about library skills and research so using games, especially digital games, in my library has many advantages.
One advantage is that the students are learning through the process of playing a digital game. Digital games might help a student understand a new library concept or idea such as:
- ABC order and how fiction books are shelved.
- The Dewey Decimal system and locating non-fiction books on the shelf.
- Parts of a book
- Literary Genres
- How to search the library catalog
- Library Orientation
- Research Skills
- Digital Citizenship
Digital games are more engaging for my library students. From year to year, my students need a lot of review and practice with library skills. Handing today’s students worksheets on these topics is not very engaging and meaningful. Because my class is not graded, students are less motivated to complete worksheets, but a lively digital game sparks their interest and the students are more willing to participate.
Digital games can help students make connections with the library content and form positive memories of their learning. When activities are fun and interesting, they stand out in students’ memories and can facilitate learning. The students may recall the information more readily after playing the game. Some students might remember library vocabulary words after playing certain games, others learn from reading the clues provided in certain games, and other students learn when they hear their classmates call out answers. Using digital games appeals to all different types of learners because they provide a variety of experiences for students. (Stathakis, 2013).
Using digital games with young students is one of the many effective tools that can be used in library instruction. Effective digital games create a collaborative and enjoyable experience for the students which increases their engagement and motivation resulting in learned material. When used properly to meet desired objectives, digital games can have a positive impact on a student’s educational experiences.
Stathakis, R. (2013). Five reasons to use games in the classroom. In education world. Retrieved October 19, 2016, from http://www.educationworld.com/a_curr/reasons-to-play-games-in-the-classroom.shtml
Teaching with games. (n.d.). In education world. Retrieved October 19, 2016, from http://www.educationworld.com/a_curr/strategy/strategy065.shtml
Young, J. (2016, July 1). Can library research be fun? Using games for information literacy instruction in higher education. Retrieved October 19, 2016, from http://digitalcommons.kennesaw.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1973&context=glq