The world has changed and with it the jobs that students are likely to get and the skills required to be successful at them. Unfortunately, modern teaching methods have fallen behind. Schools no longer provide students with the type of training and practice that they’ll need to be successful in the modern workplace.

Thankfully, there’s a way to prepare students for a successful future in a high-tech and highly collaborative workforce: games.

High-Tech Environments Need High-Tech Skills

It’s no secret that technical skills are in high demand. While some jobs may have been phased out thanks to advanced technology, new jobs have been created to work with this technology.

Many people may not realise exactly how many opportunities there are for students with technical skills: software engineers, IT professionals, data analysts, and security administrators.

It is imperative that students work to improve their technical aptitude if they are looking for one of these 21st-century jobs. What exactly does that mean? Tests that assess technical aptitude tend to agree on a few key skills:

  • abstract reasoning
  • mechanical reasoning
  • spatial reasoning
  • numerical ability
  • verbal ability

Traditional teaching methods fall short. They typically involve direct instruction and rote memorization. In these environments, the teacher is the “master” of the classroom and the students are expected to listen. This is not conducive to developing reasoning skills, as reasoning requires high-level independent thinking. What’s more, skills related to numerical and verbal ability (essentially math and English) are best learned through practice and application.

Reasoning requires high-level independent thinking. What’s more, knowledge in maths and English is best gained through practice and application.

Open Workspaces Encourage Collaboration

Technology is not the only game-changing development in the modern workplace. More and more offices have been redesigned to encourage an open and collaborative atmosphere. Many attribute this trend to a growing number of freelancers, contractors, and entrepreneurs. But whatever the reasons, it’s clear that this trend is here to stay.

If students are going to be successful in this type of environment, they are going to need to engage in creative problem-solving and non-hierarchal collaboration from year zero.

Students are going to need to engage in creative problem-solving and non-hierarchal collaboration from year zero.

How Games Can Help

Let’s unpack some of the key skills that students need to learn and what types of games can be effective in teaching them:

  • Abstract reasoning: a lateral thinker is someone who approaches a problem in a new way, possibly altering typical frameworks to get to a creative solution. Puzzle games can help encourage this type of problem-solving. Games like Monument Valley or Myst are great examples.
  • Mechanical and spatial reasoning: mechanical reasoning involves understanding how certain tools or objects interact (like the cogs moved by a crank). Video games like Portal can be instrumental in developing this skill, while apps like Crazy Gears take it a step further and put these skills to the test.
  • Numerical ability: also known as mathematics, is a key feature of almost every Massively Multiplayer Online game. Comparing statistics and identifying optimal strategies involves an in-depth understanding of algebra and basic numeracy.
  • Logical reasoning: this is a key feature in all strategy games. These games require students to base strategies on anticipated moves and likely outcomes. What’s more, students must adapt their strategies quickly and effectively in response to new information.
  • Verbal ability and non-hierarchal collaboration: effective verbal skills are essential for any team based game. From football to Overwatch, they all require players to work together toward a common goal. Students should practice calm and effective communication to clearly express their ideas and influence the group.

Taking Advantage of a New Trend

Games provide a unique opportunity to practice multiple skills at once, offering an engaging approach to interdisciplinary education. Imagine what a game specifically designed to engage students could accomplish. A big chunk of the future of education (and of gaming) lies in maximising the educational potential of games and revolutionising the 21st-century classroom.