It’s official. You’ve passed that referendum, approved that budget line item, or received the grant to implement new devices for your district. You’ve debated long and hard, you’ve put your decision through a panel, you’ve surveyed your department leaders and even asked your tech-savvy colleagues. You’ve probably spent more hours than you care to count reading up on the pros and cons of tablets versus netbooks or PC versus Mac in the classroom. And after it all, you chose the budget-friendly and powerful cloud-based alternative: the Chromebook.
If you’ve already implemented your devices or plan to implement soon, a huge congratulations is in order -- rolling out a 1:1 program in multiple schools or a district is incredibly hard work. From getting your staff on-boarded with how to use them, to getting everyone properly connected, and providing each student with access, you might think that you’ve overcome every challenge imaginable.
What many educators may not realize is the biggest challenge has just begun -- continuously providing meaningful, reliable content for your shiny new devices. It may not seem obvious, but if you don’t have an end goal or technology plan in place to move your latest investment forward, you’ll quickly find that your implementation becomes a source for digitized worksheets. And while there’s nothing wrong with using technology for those purposes, your Chromebooks are capable of so much more for your staff and students.
“We don’t want to put Chromebooks in our schools and have them just become typewriters. That’s really a waste of the resource. Part of our task is to give teachers quality digital materials they can use in their class.” - Michael Mades, Director of Technology for Sun Prairie School District
When technology teams assess applications for Chromebooks, it’s easy to think of Google’s own Apps for Education, to-do list or study software, or even picture or video-editing applications. But have you considered using your devices for game-based learning? Games bring many things to the table that mainstream or traditional applications do not.
One of the most rewarding sounds to hear from students in the classroom is the “aha moment”. It’s something every student should have and with games, it’s possible. Games provide students with a safe environment to learn and replicate complex systems, all while working alongside a neighbor who’s working to come to the same solution. In most classrooms, students who play games are constantly in conversation with each other, asking classmates questions when they’re stuck on a certain level, becoming frustrated at similar points during gameplay, and celebrating successes. This shouldn’t be a surprise, as research actually suggests that game-based learning can help students demonstrate greater social and emotional well-being.
Cross Collaboration with Digital to Real-World Activities
Just because games are digital doesn’t mean that a student’s entire learning experience needs to involve screen-time, and gameplay alone won’t be enough to meet all students’ needs. It’s important when evaluating games for your Chromebooks that you find tools that empower the educator to harness game-play activity and supplement learning with in-class or real-world curricular activities. Each game from the Filament Learning Library comes with additional lessons and exercises that can be done during class to help make learning objectives more concrete. This also gives the educator the power to design the learning experience and the power to decide on the best methods of instruction. This is important when choosing games, because studies have proven that the greatest learning gains come from teachers who surround students’ game experiences with additional support and instruction.
Above all, the most important thing when using games on your Chromebooks is ensuring academic success for students. Choosing a game-based learning solution that offers real-time assessment is critical to allow educators the opportunity to intervene when students struggle with certain concepts or get stuck. However, it’s also important when implementing games on a school or district level that administrators see trends on how games are being used. Which educators in your district use games the most? Which games and their subject matter do students seem to gravitate towards the most? Are your games being played in the classroom -- or are you seeing a substantial amount of gameplay outside of the classroom at home from self-fostered learning? This data can inform both your achievement and technology goals.
Implementing a 1:1 initiative is hard work! But don’t think of your implementation as being over, think of this as just the beginning of discovering great learning tools to drive your students’ passion. Interested in implementing some of our award-winning games in your school or district? Visit the Filament Learning storefront to learn more!