Video games and learning: Civilization V in Freshman History

Addressing the issue of boredom in classes, Andrew Wilson, a first-year teacher at Uni, has incorporated the video game Civilization V into his curriculum.  Every Friday, Freshmen History classes play the turn-based strategy game, working to progress their civilizations from the end of the Ice Age up until modern times.

While serving as a relaxing alternative to normal class activities, Civilization V is also used academically in Freshman History. According to Wilson, homework is presented through the game to provide an extra incentive to complete the work. Every couple of weeks, the class is given an optional homework prompt, set within the context of the game. However, students must complete a certain number of prompts, so they can’t skip too many.

For example, Wilson said that he recently gave the class an assignment where students had to identify characteristics of real flags, and then design their own, explaining what it means. Groups that finished the homework then received in-game rewards. He also said that presenting homework like this made it more interesting, and that students “think it’s a little more fun this way.”

Freshmen students have given very positive feedback on the game, appreciating Civilization V as a more engaging and interesting approach to teaching. Freshman Curtis Althaus said that his class “tends to be a little more video-game-based,” and that the connection between Civilization V and class material is excellent. Joel Armas agreed, saying that “it’s a great way to get us involved.” Eric Roth added that “none of my other teachers have done anything similar to that.”

Although students are already enjoying Civilization V, Wilson has plans to further improve the experience. He is currently working on setting up Uni’s Lenovo Tablets so that classes can have several competing civilizations, rather than working together on a single one. This change will allow individual groups to have more freedom of choice with their civilization, significantly altering how the game will work in class.