The article Why Oregon Trail Is Still Perfect For Your Classroom by Lisi Gopin (http://www.edudemic.com/why-oregon-trail-is-still-perfect-for-your-classroom/), is a great explanation for teachers as to why gaming is a good technique to use in the classroom that is sure to educate students. When most people think about games they think about the typical games: card games, board games, video games and how these are only used to have a good time and have fun, never for learning. This is very true in some cases but not many people recognize gaming as an educational technique. This article talks specifically about the ever so popular Oregon Trail and how it is used and why it is used still in schools today as a way to help students learn. It gives insight on the game itself, target age, game description, game play, educational goals, and a brief overview.
In this article, Goplin describes what the game is about. This is a role playing game that has been played on the computer for many many years. It has changed as time has passed and technology has advanced but still educates just the same. Students are challenged to cross the Oregon Trail in the game which as we learn in the history classroom is known for the connections of the Mississippi River to different areas to the West. Thousands of families crossed this trail yearly while expanding the US westward. Through these difficult journeys, families faced many dangerous circumstances and in this game students are able to understand exactly what these difficulties were that travelers were forced to deal with.
This article suggests that this game is best appropriate and specifically targets the younger elementary and middle school students. I, personally, remember playing it in elementary school. When beginning the game each player starts off at “Matt’s General Store”. Here they will buy supplies that will be needed on their journey westward. Each player is given a list of certain items to buy while Matt also suggests the best materials the traveler will need on the journey and how much to purchase of each. Also, at the store, you will enter each player’s name that will be playing during this particular round of the game, or the computer can select random names for you.
Once again, I remember my first time playing the Oregon Trail. I was in the 4th grade and “Computer Time” was the best part of the school day. Students did whatever they had to do to ensure they would get to play the game that day. It is funny now that I think back; the only time I truly remember anything about the Oregon Trail, on an educational standpoint, is from this game. Never from a lecture in the classroom but encountering it through this game.
As a future educator and the imperative need stressed on us to use technology and innovation, I agree 100% with this article and the statement it makes. Gaming used in the classroom can certainly be educational even if it is a game. Like I said, this game is how I remember anything about the Oregon Trail, and the difficult journey is what stands out most in my memory. Gaming keeps students interested and that is one extremely important aspect a teacher and their classroom should have on the students. Teachers have to keep their attention and keep them interested and the Oregon Trail is the perfect game to ensure every student is entertained and involved while also educating them.
Lisi Gopin does a great job in her article Why Oregon Trail Is Still Perfect For Your Classroom in helping readers and educators understand how games such as the Oregon Trail are educational in the classroom, even if it is a game. Games are not just used for pure enjoyment and fun times but can also be used for teaching students the importance of what people went through traveling westward on the Oregon Trail. I hope to one day use different games in my classroom to make learning fun for my students and articles like this one are greatly motivational.