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Popular Online Games

A post wasn't required this week, but I did find a really interesting article that I didn't want to forget (I know it isn't necessarily on topic). I am finding that doing this three paragraph style of article synthesis has helped me put my thoughts in an understandable format that can easily be referenced later.

Zhang, M. (2016). Discovering the unequal interest in popular online educational games and its implications: a case study. British Journal of Education Technology, 47(2), 358-371.


This study adopted a different viewpoint on educational interest in games than I have seen represented in any other article. The author created a formula to determine which students were using a particular online educational game site (primarygames.com) and how the use of those games effected academic performance. While the author presented some great ideas and truly challenging questions from a research perspective, his methods left something to be desired.


The article began by delving into use of educational games by sociodemographic level. Many commonly accepted statistics were recited; lower-income students means financially challenged schools, which leads to lower performance levels in students, all of which are tied to a higher use of free internet games. The author did an excellent job using and introducing to the reader several online tools used to track search data and use of specific websites. However, the author had no specific contact with the ‘participants’, meaning that statistical formulas were used to determine who was using the site and how well they performed in school, there was no actual group of students established.


I found several aspects of this article both intriguing and useful. The most important thing this article did was introduce me to the wide variety of games and tools already available on the web. As already stated, this is a very different approach to what is considered ‘online learning’ and it is certainly driven by student interest. I think further analysis of what is considered educational gaming online would be a great foundation to researching how helpful educational games really are to generating learner interest. Which games are the most popular? Which are the most sound, as far as research on game-based learning is concerned? I hope to be able to delve further into answering these questions.

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