- The popular videogame Fortnite, playable across a variety of devices, is proving to be a headache for educators in the classroom, some of whom say students are accessing it on their phones under their desks during moments of downtime, Education Week reports.
- Some tech-savvy students have even resorted to using VPNs to continue accessing the game despite blocks on school WiFi networks, while others simply use mobile data.
- To deal with and counter distraction, some educators are having students place their phones in a bin at the front of the classroom, while others are seeking to incorporate it into instruction or build connections based on students' interests.
Students being distracted by videogames isn't a new phenomenon — especially when it comes to the handheld format in the classroom. But handheld distractions are now more prevalent. Where there may have been the occasional Game Boy 20 years ago, there is now a smartphone in virtually every student's possession.
In some cases, educators can take advantage of more educationally appropriate alternatives, like Minecraft, to engage the gaming-distracted. As University of California-Irvine Professor of Social Informatics Kurt Squire told Education Week, Minecraft shares characteristics with Fortnite, bringing similar empowerment to create, albeit without the same level of action.
But they can also work in a low-tech manner to help students understand the kinds of skills they're developing through these platforms, like problem-solving and collaboration, the same way that students often use critical thinking and problem-solving skills to solve puzzles in a game like The Legend of Zelda — ultimately bringing everything back around to what's going on in the classroom.
Additionally, administrators must understand how these distractions can impact the classroom and find ways to support educators in not dismissing them outright, but finding ways to capitalize on students' extracurricular interests and tie them into learning. Context can be everything, and viewing something through the right lens can be critical when mastering any new skill or concept.