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Teachers report sharp growth in game-based learning

In 2015, 48 percent of teachers said they use games in their lessons
In 2012, 30 percent of teachers said they use games in their lessons. In 2010, the number was only 23 percent. (Click to enlarge)
In 2012, 30 percent of teachers said they use games in their lessons. In 2010, the number was only 23 percent. (Click to enlarge)

The use of game-based learning in the nation’s classrooms has doubled over the past five years, according to findings from Project Tomorrow’s annual Speak Up survey. Over the past 13 years, the survey has offered a look into the technology being used in classrooms.

In 2015, 48 percent of teachers said they use games in their lessons. In 2012, that number was 30 percent. In 2010, it was only 23 percent.

“What’s surprising about those findings is that, according to another survey we run with technology leaders, more CIOs and CTOs believe game-based learning will be an area of high growth compared to technologies that may receive more attention, such as 1-to-1 device initiatives and Chromebooks,” says Project Tomorrow CEO Julie Evans.

Overall, games are the second-most common form of digital content consumed in the classroom. Videos are used in 68 percent of classrooms while online curricula and textbooks are found in less than 40 percent.

District leaders continue to ensure schools can handle enhanced digital content and devices. “We’ve been systematically moving toward 1-to-1 for 10 years now,” says Karen Fuller, chief technology officer for the 50,000-student Klein ISD in Texas. “It will continue with the adoption of 6,700 Chromebooks in the next school year.”

Most technology issues are solved before wide-scale adoption by working collaboratively with teachers to review software they would like to use in class, Fuller says. Teachers submit prospective products and websites, and Fuller’s department promises a “yay or nay” within 36 hours.

Right culture

Technology leaders commonly report that their connectivity needs are being met for the most part, Evans says.

Technology officers face more of a challenge in establishing the right culture in their districts. “In our technology leaders survey, most reported that their biggest challenge was motivating teachers to change their practices and embrace technology,” says Evans.

For game-based learning, it may start with erasing some misperceptions. “Much of our use of games in the classroom comes in the scope of programming. Students are learning how to program their own games and solve the problems they find within,” Fuller says.

As of now, Fuller says every one of Klein’s 42 schools has a programming club.