Let the Games Begin

images of kids on computer

By Sharon A. Aronovitch, PhD, RN, CWOCN
Lead Faculty Program Director, Graduate Nursing Program

Healthy competition is good for the soul. So, why do we complain when we see children playing video games on their phone, computer, iPad or TV. I have to admit that I am a very competitive individual and become disgruntled and more determined to win the next arcade game on my iPad or hand of Mah Jongg played with friends. What is being learned when a child or an adult plays a game, no matter whether it is digital, paper, tiles, or cards?

images of kids on computerWe encourage children to participate in competitions from football to gymnastics to debate clubs, which are all a game of one sort or another. Many school systems are incorporating games of various sorts as a teaching modality for students in pre-school to high school.

However, once these same students attend college the fun is missing from the classroom or the online course. As instructors or course designers, we should be considering our digital learners, those born after 1983, who are used to fast-paced visual activities. With that being said, how do we get the attention of these students? The answer is simple, include gaming in the course. Using serious games, which are drive by educational goals, can be a benefit to both the student and the course instructor. Many serious games are created as a means of increasing a students’ critical thinking skills as well as presenting difficult content. Outbreak at WatersEdge is a good example of a game used to clarify the roles and responsibilities of public health professionals.