Social networking, simulations, and digital games can be beneficial and distracting in a classroom depending on how they are used. Educational games that teach problem solving, negotiating skills, and cause and effect are great tools for teachers to use in classrooms. Games like Diplomacy (though it is a board game, it still is a great asset) and Ayiti offer both fun as well as a great learning experience. The games also help students to visualize and experiences concepts rather than read it from a book or watch a video.
Social networks can be used in classrooms as well for the benefit of students. Teachers can create sites, pages, or groups design for a specific class with assignments, discussion groups, or extra resource materials.
I remember in my high school sophomore history class, we did a computer simulation in class that involved extraterrestrials coming to earth and initiating contact with humans (his last name was Roswell and I think he chose this simulation because of the “incident” at Roswell, NM). As a class, we decided how we would respond, interact, or attempt to annihilate the visitors. My class chose the harder road and attacked. It did not end well for us. It was fun and we learned more about diplomacy, negotiating, and problem solving by seeing the fruits of our decisions play out.
I hope I can incorporate a few education driven games into my lessons plans in the future. I know I’ll definitely be using some form of social networking through group creation and discussion boards to keep students updated and keep the communication and discussion going between teacher and students.
Groff, J. and Haas, J. (Sept/Oct 2008, v. 36, i. 2).Web 2.0: Today’s Technology, Tomorrow’s Learning. InternationalSociety for Technology in Education. October 1, 2011. www.iste.org