Jul 12, 2011

Video Games as Innovative Teaching

One of the topics discussed by Clayton Christensen in his book, Disrupting Class:  How Disruptive Innovation Will Change the Way the World Learns (2011), focuses on the use of video games in the classroom (p. 220).  This struck a chord with me, because prior to my position as Sand Springs Virtual Academy Director, I worked as a professional development trainer for teachers.  One of the classes I created in this position focused on the use of video games as a learning tool in the classroom.  Teachers have been using the Wii console as a learning tool in various forms for the past 5 to 6 years.  The class focused on the use of the Wii, but actually led to a greater discussion of online games, computer based games, and video games as training tools in business.   My research led me to read a few books that teachers might find interesting: 

More recently, I ran across this post on the website, Good Education (http://www.good.is/).  It discusses how a teacher is using Angry Birds to teach Physics, and documenting his progress and methods every step of the way. 

From:  http://www.good.is/post/atlanta-teacher-uses-angry-birds-for-physics-lessons/

As I read through this article, I realized how when we play games like this one, we do a great deal of planning and hypothesizing on the fly without even knowing it.  If kids were to truly dissect a video game like angry birds and apply physics to the situation, it would open up a whole new level of understanding and enjoyment in the subject.

I knew that the use of video games in the classroom was a new trend, and a successful one at that, but I hadn't really thought of them as a form of disruptive innovation in teaching before.  Now I am paying more attention.  As I look at new teaching methods, I have a different view.  I tend to dissect them, compare them to older methods, and assess whether they are effective.  Guess you really can teach an old dog new tricks.  And I guess as old dogs, we need to keep looking for new tricks.


Christensen, C.M., Horn, M.B., & Johnson, C.W. (2011). Disrupting class: How innovation will change the way the world learns. New York: McGraw Hill.