by Denise Sutter Widmer, Université de Genève, Switzerland, Julien Bugmman & Florence Quinche, Haute Ecole Pédagogique Vaud, Switzerland.
Video games have become a widespread cultural practice. However, they are still rarely used in the classroom, even though they can contribute to supporting or improving learning when learning objectives are well identified and the use of games is part of a pedagogical scenario. The use of video games in the classroom remains complex and the implementation of game-based educational activities faces many challenges. Many teachers who say they are motivated by the idea of using video games in education give up on integrating them into the classroom because of the many obstacles (pedagogical and didactic, technical, material, feeling of competence, lack of training) they face.
In our study, we sought to better understand what motivates teachers to integrate (or not) video games in their classroom and what their perceptions are of video games as pedagogical tools. We also wanted to know what difficulties they anticipate regarding the integration of video games into their classroom and whether teachers’ personal experience and in-service training with video games encourage them to use them with their students. We can assume that if teachers’ personal experiences with games are positive, they may want to make students go through similar moments of pleasure.
We interviewed two types of participants via a questionnaire: practicing teachers who had registered for in-service training on video games in education and pre-service teachers interested in video games. Thirty-four people (15 teachers and 19 pre-service teachers) responded to our questionnaire. Most of them are involved either with students aged 8 to 12 or with students aged 12 to 15.
The analysis of our results shows that a positive perception of video games is a necessary condition to ensure their use in class, but it is not sufficient to lead to their effective integration. Many of our respondents express a positive view of video games and some willingness to integrate them in the classroom, but only a few of them use video games in the classroom.
To ensure the actual use of video games in class, different elements seem essential in the eyes of our teachers or students. These include personal factors (enjoying games), pedagogical factors (the desire to vary learning and teaching situations), and the desire to engage students in motivating activities. The expected benefits of classroom gaming (effect on student learning, persistence, motivation and collaboration) are particularly high among those who are already using video games in the classroom.
Personal video game experience does not appear to play a determining role on motivation to use video games in the classroom, although it does appear to increase the likelihood of using them with pupils. Personal video game experience also seems not sufficient to feel confident about designing fruitful learning situations and dealing with the constraints specific to the teaching context (equipment and classroom management, WIFI, pedagogical scripting). Other obstacles to integration were noted by our participants, such as the difficulty to find video games that correspond to their needs and that fit into the limited time frame of a classroom lesson, as well as the lack of knowledge about video games for those who have no personal video game experience.
Almost all our respondents have taken courses to learn how to use video games in the classroom. But in its current form, the training has not proven to be sufficient to get most of our participants to integrate video games into the classroom. It may help some teachers make the move, but probably it does not fully meet the needs of our participants.
In conclusion, this study shows that our respondents are generally motivated to use video games in education, but this interest does not necessarily lead to the effective integration of video games in the classroom. Even when teachers’ personal video game experience is significant, it does not seem enough to bring them to this type of innovative and novel experience. Other avenues should be explored to help teachers who are willing to use video games in their class to take the plunge, such as more targeted training, appropriate support in their schools, the development of a video game culture, the sharing of experiences among peers or even greater institutional support for innovative and varied practices in the classroom.
Denise Sutter Widmer, Chargée d’enseignement FPSE, PhD; TECFA-FPSE, Université de Genève, Switzerland.
Florence Quinche, Professeure associée, HEP Vaud, Lausanne, Switzerland.
Julien Bugmann, Professeur Associé en éducation numérique – Informatique et société – UER MI, HEP Vaud, Lausanne, Switzerland.