Archive for the 'Education' Category

A Primer for Video Games in the Classroom

Recently I got together with a friend of mine who teaches middle school age kids. When I asked him if he had ever tried to use video games in the classroom, not only did he say no, but also that he didn’t buy into the idea. Surprised by his response I felt compelled to convince him that video games could be a great asset in the classroom. I’ve felt this way since my dad helped introduce the Apple 2e to my elementary school. Oregon Trial, Number Munchers, and Turtle Graphics among others left a lasting impression on me that learning can be fun. I mean, who else but Carmen Sandiego could get me willfully read The World Almanac?

I offered to send him an email with more resources to help him see the power of video games. The list below represents a tiny slice of the enormous amount of material out there for those that want to learn more about how video games and technology can help in the classroom. Please comment and add your own favorite video games and resources.

Video Game Ideas, some games were designed to be used in the classroom, but don’t let that stop you from trying traditional games too.

Afrika, A virtual safari through Africa for the PlayStation 3

Dimension U, Various high-quality PC games focused on algebra

Endless Ocean, Explore the oceans on the Nintendo Wii

Fun Brain, Various web-based games for k-8 students covering a range of topics

Game Show Wizard, Games for your digital projector or monitor

Global Conflicts, A series of PC games that teaches students about current conflicts in the world

Immune Attack, Created by the Federation of American Scientist to teach biology

Jungle Extreem, Facebook farming simulation game (not Farmville)

Organizations and News:

Edutopia, article “Let the Games Begin: Entertainment Meets Education

eSchool News

Institute for the Future,

Check out the talk Jane McGonigal gave at TED, “Gaming can make a better world”

LearningWorks for Kids

Persuasive Games

What They Play

Festivals:

Games Education Summit

Games For Change

Meaningful Play

LinkedIn Groups

Games Based Learning

e-Learning Professional Network

Serious Games Group

Reflections on EduGaming from Game On! Texas 2010

I was fortunate to attend the first annual Game On! Texas symposium put together by the Skillpoint Alliance on April 7. By the end of the day I had started to re-think how I thought video games could be used in the classroom.

The symposium brought together educators, developers, and community activists, primarily from Texas, to discuss how video games could enrich the education of school kids. Even Texas Governor Rick Perry gave the opening keynote to show his support for the event and the ideas it promoted.

Some of the speakers discussed the potential of video games as a learning tool. In particular Alan Gershenfeld, the Chairman of the Games For Change festival, talked about Impact Games. He described Impact Games, as games that use a challenge and reward system to motivate students. These games also teach that failure is not only an acceptable, but also a fun part of the learning process. However, the overarching theme of Game On! Texas focused more on encouraging children to purse a career in video game production, and less on utilizing video games creation to aid children in their learning.

Throughout the day I began to see teaching video game creation in high school as part of a well-rounded education, not just a technical trade.  High school educators at the symposium were looking to improve their student’s employment opportunities, but I think specialization should be saved for college. While I can see how learning C++ versus the Unity Engine, would be an important decision to a budding programmer, this myopic debate misses the larger potential for gaming in education.

Some of the speakers there were promoting their college’s video game programs, which were impressive. Peter Raad from Guildhall made a key point while talking about his program. He remarked that the acronym STEM, Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math, should be changed to STEAM. The A recognizes that the arts are also an important silo of learning. Why not go further?

The process of video game creation could be part of a well-rounded education. By incorporating research from a history class, drawings from an art class, and calculus from a math class, video games would inspire learning. It made me think that video games could be used the way research papers are today. I’m not trying to knock the Game On! Texas symposium, on the contrary I think it was a great beginning for a new forum where educators can connect with developers.

There was a huge amount of interest from the high school education community. They understand that video games have a great appeal to students, and ultimately they want to help their students. Maybe it’s time to think about video games the way we have been thinking about writing papers. Imagine drafting an outline, doing research and then instead of writing a term paper, you write a simple game. Now that would have kept me more motivated and interested in my high school classes.

Hopefully future Game On! Texas symposiums will lead to partnerships between educators and developer that will make research video games a reality.


what’s on my mind

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