Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

Exploring Application, Attitudes and Integration of Video Games: MinecraftEdu in Middle School

Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

Exploring Application, Attitudes and Integration of Video Games: MinecraftEdu in Middle School

Article excerpt

Introduction

Since the 80s, video game use has risen to the point where 60% of children between 8 and 18 years old now play them (Rideout, Foerh, & Roberts, 2010). Pew Internet and American Life Project showed that recreational use of video games is widespread, with 97% of young people and 53% of adults using them (Lenhart, Jones, & Macgill, 2008; Lenhart, Kahne, Middaugh, Macgill, Evans, & Vitak, 2008).

Video games are popular mainly because they are fun. Teenagers' intrinsic motivation towards games contrasts with their often noted lack of interest in curricular contents (Prensky, 2003). Motivation could be combined with contents in school (Eseryel, Law, Ifenthaler, Ge, & Miller, 2014); thereby, video games may also have advantages from a pedagogical perspective. Educational research provides findings that help to determine whether it is advisable to adopt goals and encourage learning activities that are meaningful and motivating for students.

Several theorists claim that there is insufficient scientific evidence regarding the relationship between gaming and learning. "There is not enough research to determine the relationship between video games and learning" (Blunt, 2007, p. 2). There is limited evidence regarding how educational games can be used to solve the problems inherent in the structure of traditional K-12 schooling and academia (Young, Slota, Cutter, Jalette, Mullin, Lai, Simeoni, Tran, & Yukhymenko, 2012).

Some authors ensure that there is no theoretical basis in this field. "I challenge anyone to show me a literature review of empirical studies about game-based learning. There are none. We are charging headlong into game-based learning without knowing if it works or not. We need studies" (Cannon-Bowers, 2006, p. 2).

Educational video games require a greater foundation in the evaluation processes. "Although a number of frameworks exist that are intended to guide and support the evaluation of educational software, few have been designed that consider explicitly the use of games or simulations in education" (de Freitas & Oliver, 2006, p. 262).

It is essential to "research educational video games already in use" (Young et al., 2012, p. 81). Some teachers utilize educational video games in their daily practice, therefore, analysing their current application would provide more valuable information regarding how video games influence student performance.

Taking the aforementioned research needs related to game-based learning into consideration, the motivation of the present research aims to provide information regarding the use of MinecraftEdu in educational settings, particularly in middle schools.

Several studies highlight the advantages of game-based learning as environments that promote student motivation and engagement (Blunt, 2007; Gee, 2007; Greenfield, 2010); therefore, it is important to confirm advantages related to this approach in educational settings though educational research. Some institutions, such as the Sweden educational system, are considering including Minecraft as an essential tool across the curriculum, even as a mandatory class (http://www.edudemic.com/this-swedish-school-now-has-a-mandatory-minecraft-class/). Thereby, administrators, policy makers, teachers, parents and students need to understand real possibilities related to game-based learning in general and with MinecraftEdu in particular.

Theoretical framework

Klopfer, Osterweil, and Salen (2009, p. 21) define digital-learning games as: "Those that target the acquisition of knowledge as its own end and foster habits of mind and understanding that are generally useful or useful within an academic context."

Serious games are defined as immersive virtual environments explicitly trying to educate (Shute, Ventura, Bauer, & Zapata-Rivera, 2009). The most important features of game-based learning are related to the fact that they are educational and they allow interaction in the virtual environment. …

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