RE@L Blogmeisters Continuing Commentary on "Gaming Obstacles, Part II" by Laurie Sullivan

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Editors’ Note:  In a previous column posted on Mind/Shift by Laurie Sullivan, and quoted here, 10 solutions were listed on the topic of “Overcoming Gaming Obstacles.” (Click here).In our RE@L Blog that followed, we commented further on several of the barriers Ms. Sullivan listed (Click here).


We heard from several readers who thought that both views were helpful to teachers looking for better ways to use digital games in the classroom.  This week we comment on two of Ms. Sullivan’s other remaining five suggestions.  The remaining three will be addressed in a future blog.

Laurie Sullivan

Laurie Sullivan

Ms. Sullivan mentions, among other issues, the blocking factors caused by support and quality:

  •    •   Lack of parental support; Lack of administrative support;
  •    •   Difficulty in finding games that fit the curriculum; Problems in finding “quality” games.

Both of these issues are related to the newness of the expanding digital technology in schools, and to the rate at which new mobile technology is being infused into the classroom learning environment, often without a plan to use it effectively. Often, too, we find a built-in negative reaction to the term “games” in the context of teaching and learning.

Many parents and administrators have an immediate and negative reaction.  They believe school is not about “fun and games” and that kids are in school to work hard, do their homework and learn.  What they fail to understand is that kids today are learning in a far different world than we did. Let’s consider their concerns.

TylerRacewayMath4x6Why can’t learning be fun, too? Research shows that learning lasts longer when positive emotions are involved.  Learning with “fun” today can translate into using a new medium that makes learning both successful and enjoyable. Kids everywhere hope to be able to use one of the millions of mobile learning devices invading our schools in increasingly higher numbers. OneRoomSchoolhouse

Caution is called for, however.  An iPad can no more make learning happen than a slate-board could 200 years ago. There must be a plan in place and objectives to be achieved. In far too many instances the mobile devices are in place before the plans are made. Learners today expect these devices to have some new powers to help them learn more and better.  They expect fast moving and engaging content with  more multi-media delivered on their multi-dimensional mobile learning devices.

So do teachers! We predict that soon these devices will be in the hands of nearly every learner and teacher.

There is no time to waste in getting every one ready and every obstacle removed. real website homepage banner7Finding quality-game applications software that will fit the K12 curriculum requires a careful examination of both the hardware tablets and software apps.

1.   Look for evidence that the app company has the talent and experience required to make learning happen successfully in the classroom.

2.   Locate software providers that have many dimensions of talent needed to make quality education software.

3.   There is far more to the production process than a clever idea and a few good programmers. Programmers are a necessary, but far from the sufficient ingredient to produce effective classroom software.

4.   A quality education software company, take our RE@L for example, has a whole range of differing, but overlapping talents. Here’s one principle we always follow at RE@L: classroom educators must be involved in bringing an effective product to market.  Others expertise is essential in understanding the way schools function:

  • Content experts who are knowledgeable in curriculum, learning theory and lesson and action plans that address standards and testing;
  • Media experts who can help all these requirements come alive on the screen, so both fun and understanding happen at the same time.

In closing, always look for evidence that shows an understanding of the K12 school market. Publishers should be able to lay out how their “supplementary teaching and learning materials” fit into the scope and sequence into which teachers must fit their lessons. Lastly, be sure to find indicators that an app developer can deliver an app that truly does meet the expectations of kids, educators, and the parents.

You’d be wise to check us out at RE@L! Just click on link to the left to find our homepage.

Back soon with another blog on the final points on removing the last of the obstacles to games in the classroom…

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Tom King & Dale LaFrenz

Dr. Tom King has served for over 40 years as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Saint Thomas in the School of Education. The Saturn School of Tomorrow, formerly a St. Paul Public School, and his visionary response to educational reform, was a lighthouse on the frontier of school change. Tom was an experienced high school teacher of mathematics, a school administrator, and Director of Technology for the St. Paul MN Public Schools. He is also a member of the RE@L Team. Dr. Dale LaFrenz is Chairman of RE@L and one of the founders of MECC Software who brought “Oregon Trail” to millions of K12 kids everywhere. He has written extensively on the history and evolution of Ed Tech. His work in forging new paths for MECC’S “edutainment" software was instrumental in connecting school-markets, kids, teachers and consumer-markets/kids/parents, and now serves as the new launching pad for RE@L apps and software.

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