Videogames in the classroom, beta version

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When we speak about contemporary society, about what defines and distinguishes it from the previous ones, we commonly establish technologies as the backbone of new communicational, economical and political paradigms. And, of course, new educative models. ICT learning-based approaches arises as the definitive switch that activates the motivation of the students to enhance creative and relevant attitudes.

Over the last years, among those new “emerging pedagogies” (Jordi Adell), gamification has gradually gained significant status on the discussion forums about education. We unarguably learn while playing; even though this assertion was already made by scholars as Piaget or Freud long time ago, videogames reintroduce the debate so it becomes essential as far as innovation in education is concerned.

First thing first: people like videogames, given that is one of the most profitable and promising industries of the international market. The act of paying can be reinterpreted and shared, fostering online communities and new narratives that, apart from the single fact of gaming, become some kind of meta-narrative 2.0 leaded by the gamer and her/his story on the game. Evidently, videogames gained an honourable mention not just for its entertaining capacity, but for its ability to enhance creativity. Therefore, there’s no question: we have to introduce video games in education because they are part of our day-a-day and they offer a tremendous potential outcome. Moreover, gamification has been successfully integrated in other professional and social areas; education cannot be left apart.

Nevertheless… there’s always a “but”. Technology for itself does not guarantee either quality or innovation to the learning process. Objections can appear to the introduction of videogames in the classroom. Just to say a few, the lack of specifically educative video games-planning, designed by educators and addressing pedagogical objectives. Another one is the stereotypes. We cannot forget those claiming to rethink the social imaginary built on those virtual scenarios.

On the other hand, the immediacy of the 2.0 communication flow demands a quick-reward answer, sometimes inconsequential. Is the capacity to wait for the results diminishing? This raises another question: are we forgetting to train our auto-ludic competence. This reflection was inspired by Dolors Reig and her paper “De la impaciencia a la competencia autolúdica” (From impatience to self-ludic competence), where the well-known video of the marshmallow experiment teach us the importance of “learning to wait” or even “learning to get bored”. Self-ludic capacity in order to get a delayed reward is considered by Dolor Reig one of the  Tecnologías del Empoderamiento y la Participación (Technologies for Empowerment and Participation), and she attributes to it a decisive and leading role in education for the autonomy, the responsibility and the long-life learning competence.

While scholars continue to search for a translation of the term “gamification” into Spanish, the decisive institutions continue debating about linguistics, about signifier and meaning, the real world has admitted virtual games as an indispensable part of our day-a-day, tool for creativity and self-expression, and of course, as a virtual learning environment. The challenge now is not using the video games as something external to education, as a consequence (reward and punishment) of our behaviour regarding our duties and tasks; the challenge is to design them attending our learning objectives, integrate them as tools for participation and engagement, learning to manage the impatience 2.0 and, moreover, taking back the control, avoiding to let them on hands of consumerist and ethnocentric patterns of a fierce industry, millionaire and non-reflexive.

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