Help Wanted – Using Video Games in the Classroom

I remember when I first started blogging and reading other teacher blogs about two years ago, Clarence was working on a very exciting project with his students involving Sim City. I’ve always thought it would be both fun and productive to do something similar in my history classroom. Lucky for me, my school had some software money that needed to be spent by the end of the month or we would loose it, so I ordered a few copies of both Civilization IV and Age of Empires III. I’m planning on using them during the last month of the year with students who took the Global History Regents exam this week and did well enough to not have to worry about a retake (the rest of my students will be reviewing for the Regents Exam).

So in essences, I want to create a project using these games that also serves as a culmination of my students’ two-year study of Global History. The scope of both games seems ideal for this. Right now I am imagining something where students play the game and then keep a running diary or blog of their achievements, maybe with a short story component added for the final product. These ideas are pretty abstract, for now at least.

I was just wondering if anyone out there has used these games, or others like them, in their classes and could help me out – Did it work out alright? What type of more “traditional academic” work did students produce from the experience? What road blocks, if any, did you encounter? What can I do to make this a meaningful experience for my students? Even if you have never used games like these, do you have any ideas to make this work well?

Any advice will be greatly appreciated.


4 thoughts on “Help Wanted – Using Video Games in the Classroom

  1. Stephen,Check out the blog, “Educational Discourse.” There is a post re: gaming. Perhaps you can generate ideas an connections from this blog.


  2. Hi, Stephen.Found two more resources for you. Apparently these two gentlemen are of note in edutech and gaming:Bill MacKenty – he’s at Hunter College H.S. His blog is Bill MacKentyMark Wagner – his blog is Educational Technology and Life. Don’t recall where he’s based.Incidentally, it was via an ICT blog from across the Great Atlantic Pond that I connected to the aforementioned individuals. The Brits are light years ahead of the US in their use of edtech in the classroom, at least in as far as foreign language, anyway.


  3. Stephen, I am an avid avid Civ IV player. the game is a ton of fun, but honestly, other than having actual historic milestones and buildings, i don’t know what the game would teach kids other than that mr. lazar is sweetest teacher ever. a player can ‘found’ a religion just by researching different technologies (that really have nothing to do with religion). any civilization can build any building, so the parthenon can be in mongolia, versailles can be in america, etc.geography is completely random and the whole point is to just build up a huge army and take over land.the game is really a ton of fun and highly addictive, but as a learning tool, i don’t see the merit.sincerely,Bradley Q. Somogyi, Esquire


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