Research Report

Teachers Report Growing Interest, Persistent Skepticism About Games

Technology in the classroom

Technology is expanding into many classrooms, but teacher acceptance of the new tools appears mixed.

New surveys are coming out all the time gauging the views of teachers when it comes to technology and games in the classroom, but finding trends in any individual report can be difficult.

To assess whether there are key findings across these reports, the Joan Ganz Cooney Center conducted a meta-analysis of five recent surveys to gauge what is happening in the nation’s schools.

Briana Pressey conducted the meta-analysis and said the surveys were conducted over the last 18 months and each “presents a unique perspective and teacher population, and the surveys collectively add to a greater conversation about the benefits and challenges of technology as it relates to the education of today’s digitally connected children,” she wrote recently.

And some of the data she highlights is worth a second look.

Key Findings

  • 62% of teachers said it was their own comfort level with technology that was one of the biggest barriers to incorporating games and tech in the classroom.
  • 68% of science, 58% of math, 54% of history/social studies and 53% of English/language arts teachers are “very confident” in their ability to use the latest technology.
  • 74% of teachers reported technology is “an exciting way of communicating with and motivating students.”
  • 68% of teachers said their school or district offered some sort of technology training and 32% had no such training.

Pressey said taken together there were key takeaways for designers hoping to find a market for their games in the classroom.

“As much as you are designing to engage the kids, impress the gatekeepers,” she said, pointing out teachers and administrators are the key decision makers who will gauge the effectiveness of a given technology.

She said most educators listed both access to the technology and time as major barriers to implementing games, so she stressed the need for game developers to “present good examples of how the game is used in the classroom or how to best streamline a product into the class” to ensure a better response.

She added that teachers said they feel they are “bombarded by games,” but despite the overall belief in the engaging quality of games, there remains “skepticism about how much games are actually helping.”

But Pressey said throughout the surveys, there is a persistent interest in the possible positive effects gaming can have for students. She pointed to games built specifically for use in school as having a leg up in the minds of most educators.

The other type of game that seems to be attracting interest from educators is a game that connects beyond the classroom using either online and offline technologies. She said many teachers are seeking out games that offer them “different options to bridge the teaching from the classroom to home.”

Editor’s Note: the Joan Ganz Cooney Center also operates this site as a project of the Games and Learning Publishing Council.