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Digital Game-Based Learning is Great - When It's Funded

Technology is an ever-growing component in education and with it, digital game-based learning and gamification are not far behind. Indeed, with homes filled to the brim with devices and many schools touting 1:1 technology devices, one might expect that schools would already be swimming in educational gaming. But a look into classrooms might demonstrate otherwise.

In a 2021 study, teachers attributed a lack of digital game-based learning to misalignment of funding. Regardless of what may be possible, digital gaming simply cannot be implemented in a 5th grade classroom unless the school and/or school district fund the needed equipment and software. And these funding decisions are usually outside the discretion of individual teachers, making this a move that requires more than the will of teachers and students.

Technology delay in schools is, unfortunately, a common malady. Going back a fair number of years, I spent my junior and senior years of high school at The South Carolina Governor’s School for Science and Mathematics. It was an incredible opportunity, and I was given an incredible education. It was the turn of the century (1998-2000), and the school had been underway for 10 years. But, even though we were the preeminent school in the state, we were not at the front when it came to technology. We did not have 1:1 devices, so whatever computers we brought from home is what we had. We did have a computer lab with internet access, but that was a shared space, with about 15 computers for 120 students. In the middle of my senior year, some of us went to a workshop at our brand new sister school, The SC Governor’s School for the Arts. We were green with jealousy when we discovered that those students had 1:1 laptops from the school, with internet connections in their rooms. And what i really comes down to is convincing whoever holds the funding of the needs and working out proper budgeting. And, unfortunately, sometimes those individuals are quite disconnected from the students.

Moving forward in education, it is imperative that states, districts, and schools recognize the need to fund the very technology that is expected and needed today. Although yet another tedious task, seeking grants and specialized state funding for tech is may be the route schools have to take for the time being. In Illinois, district technology plans are no longer a requirement by the state, but are an option for districts who seek additional funding through grants.

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