Published on Brock University (http://www.brocku.ca)
Education professor seeks to integrate video games into the classroom
David Hutchison, PhD
Chair, Department of Teacher Education
Professor, Brock University Faculty of Education
Playing video games may seem to be the farthest thing from learning in schools, but that should change, ac¬cording to Faculty of Education associate professor David Hutchison. Video games present teachers with many compelling curricular integration possibilities, Hutchison argues, that cross nearly every subject area that is taught in elementary and secondary schools.
Hutchison’s book, Playing to Learn: Video Games in the Classroom (playingtolearn.org), outlines over a hundred activity ideas for integrating the study of video games into the classroom. The subject areas that are addressed include: language arts, mathematics, science, social studies, history, geography, health & physical education, drama, music, visual arts, computers, and busi¬ness studies. Hutchison began writing the book when he increasingly found himself visiting schools where both teachers and students played video games in their out-of-school lives, but rarely, if ever, talked about this shared passion in school.
Hutchison’s work has attracted national attention. He has been interviewed for new stories on The National and CTV-News, as well as CBC-Radio. The popular appeal of video games and the questions parents and teachers have about how much video game playing time is too much was the focus of an appearance on CityTV’s Breakfast Television.
Hutchison cites one of the activities in his book as a good starting point for helping elementary school stu¬dents become more conscious of their video game playing habits. Titled “For How Long Do I Play?,” this activity has students use a tally chart to track the amount of time they spend playing video games each day over a two week period. The students then bring their charts into math class where they collate the data and analyze the results, asking key questions, such as “Do boys play video games more than girls?” and “Do students play more video games on the weekends or weekdays?”
Hutchison notes that video games garner a lot of media attention due to the sheer number of innovative video games which are released each year and the controversial nature of some video games which push the boundaries of what some see as socially acceptable. Far from avoiding controversies related to video games, teachers - especially at the secondary and post-secondary school levels - should take advantage of opportunities to address these controversies with students.
Students should also be designing video games, Hutchison argues. His book ends with an Afterword that focus¬es on video game design in the classroom. A few years ago, Hutchison consulted with Brock’s Youth University on the design of a new summer camp for children which focused on video game design.
“Increasingly,” says Hutchison, “video games, such as the popular Little Big Planet game for the PlayStation 3, feature compelling content creation tools that allow players to move from simply being consumers of video games to being creators of video games.” Hutchison’s latest book, From Gamer to Game Designer, focuses on this trend with reference to the map design tools that are integrated into the Far Cry 2 action-adventure video game.
View Professor Hutchison's Faculty of Education profile HERE.