Computer integrations in the classroom have been a part of schools since the early 80s. With more computers being brought into the classroom the desire to teach students how to use them has also increased. Learning to program on computers was the natural first step into learning computers for a lot of enthusiastic students. Fast forward to the year 2022 and gone are the days of having to learn binary just to make a simple program on a computer. Nowadays there's modern programming languages and software that enables our students to learn more about computers and coding while also making it a more enjoyable process.
Typing out code is still the most popular way to teach computer science and more students are eager to learn about coding as technology becomes more and more integrated into our everyday lives. However, even if a student is interested in learning to code sometimes the traditional method doesn’t always click with them. It’s like telling a student who prefers visual learning to read a textbook. So what can we do?
We can teach them how to make video games! This might initially seem counterintuitive since most people’s first thought of a programmer is someone looking at a black screen with green text scrolling by matrix style not someone making a character do the latest new dance craze but the two have a lot more overlap than you might think. There will always be a need and desire to learn programming from the ground up but tying in video games, something that 90% of students already participate in, gives those students who might not find the traditional method appealing a chance to get into STEM.
One of the shortcomings of traditional computer science teaching is the satisfaction factor, some students will pour hours into a program just to make a list of numbers, sort themselves and be super satisfied with it, most will not. With game design a student could program a door to open when a puzzle is solved and then actually getting to play that game results in a much more engaging experience and a larger number of students finding it satisfying.
Not only does learning game design cover programming in a fun way but it also integrates other STEM fields that students might not have thought to give a try initially like 3D modeling or animating. With a wide array of potential 21st century skills to be learned, game design seems like an easy choice for teaching STEM in schools.