Overcoming 10 Common Obstacles of Game-Based Teaching

by Feb 26, 2017

Game-based teaching is an exciting adventure for any teacher to embark on with their students. It excites learners and connects them to the curriculum in ways they can appreciate and be attentive to. Unfortunately, like many instructional approaches with a strong technology foundation, there can be difficulties. But with every challenge comes an opportunity to grow and excel.

In the MindShift article Games in the Classroom: Overcoming the Obstacles, Jordan Shapiro gives us some sage advice on surmounting 10 of the most frequent obstacles faced by teachers adopting game-based learning strategies.


The obstacles Shapiro guides us over were taken from a survey of 700 teachers conducted by the Games and Learning Publishing Council. The survey cites the increasing value teachers are placing on the ability game-based teaching has to motivate lower-performing students. They were asked to pinpoint and rank the major barriers they experience when using games in the classroom.


Overcoming 10 Game-Based Teaching Obstacles

Here then is a summary of the challenges presented by game-based teaching and Shapiro’s suggested strategies for turning them around. Please read the full article for a more in-depth examination of these challenges and how to overcome them for initiating your best game-based teaching experiences.

1. Time: This was a concern voiced by 45% of the teachers polled. But when it comes to games in teaching, we tend to assume it’s lofty and complicated when it doesn’t have to be. The secret, Shapiro says, is treating games like any other activity or project you’d incorporate into a lesson. 

2. Cost: This one can be hard to overcome, so the idea is to be thrifty. Look for games and resources that can promote game-based teaching either at a low bulk cost or for free. Shapiro also cites crowd-sourcing organizations like Donor’s Choose as a strategy.

3. Lack of Resources: Many corporations will tell teachers that a 1:1 tech ratio is the only way to teach with games, but Shapiro begs to differ. Just a few devices, if used properly, can go a long way.

4. Fitting With Curriculum: It can be hard to find games that harmonize with curricular objectives. Shapiro suggests that teachers begin by exploring GraphitePlayful Learning, and Educade .

5. Emphasis on Standardized Test Scores: Game design companies have been trying to combat this by aligning more with curricular standards. A good example of this is the PLEX Life Science suite of games.

6. Locating Quality Games: Aside from the sites mentioned in Point 4, Shapiro recommends the information found in the article How To Choose A Learning Game to shed light on this one.

7. Integration: Many teachers are unsure about how to begin practically integrating the technology into game-based teaching practices. Find everything you need to know in this guide to games and learning.

8. Unfamiliarity: Game-based teaching doesn’t necessarily always need to involve technology. Try this list of print-and-play games offered by the Institute of Play.

9. Lack of Admin Support: This concern thankfully came in low on the survey, but it still bears consideration. The answer to getting this kind of support is in doing the proper research into game-based teaching.

10. Parental Support: Teachers will always have to account for the use of games in education, but there is a bright spot. According to a Cooney Center report, 57% of parents support the use of games and other digital media as learning tools. That’s great news for game-based teaching.


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