Video Games As Educational

Computer Science Teacher
Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

Video Games As Educational

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Last week Microsoft announced a large investment in research into educational games. There have been a lot of educational games over the years. Some of them I think have been educational in theory more than in practice. Others more accidentally educational than anything else. But what does make a game effective as an educational tool? Does the brain work differently while playing games? I have known ADD and ADHD kids who could not sit still for a few minutes in a regular class who can sit and play video games for hours at a time. What’s going on? Well the fact is that we don’t know very much about the effectiveness of educational games. We don’t know what makes a good educational game. We don’t know how they work or how they can be made to work better.

The Games for Learning Institute is an attempt to do some serious research on these questions.

The Games for Learning Institute (G4LI) is a first-of-its-kind, multi-disciplinary, multi-institutional gaming research alliance that will provide the fundamental scientific evidence to support games as learning tools for math and science subjects among middle school students. It is great example of how technology can play a role in changing how students learn and give teachers new tools to create dynamic and effective curriculum.

There are a number of good quotes about what this study/research hopes to accomplish in this article by the Seattle P-I. One of the things I am hoping for is that a framework of ideas will come out of it that will allow more people to make more effective games to reach more students who don’t do well in traditional classrooms.

  • I have noticed over the last few years that the number of fun educational games has gone to nil.  Years ago when I started in this computer/math/science teaching business there was always somebody publishing some cool new game.  My students would spend hours on Rocky's Boots, Robot Odyssey and Green Globs.  I wouldn't mind having a modern version of these.  Rocky's Boots was kind of a kick (no pun intended).  I though it was a great way to teach logic and problem solving.

  • We promote a wide range of educational games - from a diverse range of manufacturers. All our are linked to the curriculum and inevitably used on schools.

    But you are right, it would be ideal if the Games for Learning Institute (G4LI) could review some of the games and give star ratings just as a film review.

    Education that is seen as fun makes learning a heck of a lot more enjoyable. When did you last see a child grab a maths textbook and enjoy a good read?

    Alistair Owens http://www.keen2learn.co.uk

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