Attitudes Toward the Integration of Digital Games Into Instruction in Teacher Education Colleges During the COVID-19 Pandemic
This paper examines how senior academic staff from a large sample of teacher education colleges regard the integration of digital games into teacher instruction. These colleges serve general or religious populations, and we examine what, in practice, their policy and vision were in this regard in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The sudden adoption of online teaching-learning due to the pandemic has been termed disruptive in that it drastically disturbed higher education in Israel and worldwide. The senior academic staff of Israel’s colleges of education was responsible for leading policy decision-making during this period. The use of digital games for pedagogic purposes may be direct when used for knowledge acquisition and reinforcement and student development or indirect.
Using semi-structured interviews, the current study applied an interpretive-constructivist approach to examine how senior academic staff from several teacher education colleges perceived the integration of digital games into teacher instruction and elicit their policy and vision in this regard, in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The findings suggest that discussions surrounding technology-related vision and policy and their translation into practice should relate to the specific cultural needs and academic preparedness of the population(s) served by the college.
Half the participants expressed a desire to integrate digital games into teaching and learning but acknowledged that in practice this was uncommon. Only a small minority considered themselves to have achieved successful integration in practice, with doubt and skepticism expressed by some of the religious colleges. Most colleges had policies to encourage the integration of technology in general into teaching, with these, in turn, supported by ongoing funding. Although a considerable gap between policy and implementation remained, the COVID-19 pandemic was viewed as having considerably accelerated the integration of digital games into preservice teacher instruction.
Discussions pertaining to technology-related vision and policy and their translation into practice should relate to the specific cultural needs and academic preparedness of the population(s) served by the college.
The findings reflect the spectrum of challenges faced by the different populations the colleges employ and serve and the outcomes of the colleges’ ongoing attempts to negotiate and reconcile different concerns.
The findings have implications wherever colleges serve other socially and culturally conservative populations that are interested in or compelled to adopt techno-pedagogies.
We call for further research into whether continued pandemic-related restrictions have increased the practical integration of techno-pedagogical tools such as digital games into the curricula of teacher education colleges.