Play and learn

Video games can redefine education, says a study by the Federation of American Scientists. AP reports:

Capping a year of study, the group called for federal research into how the addictive pizzazz of video games can be converted into serious learning tools for schools.

The theory is that games teach skills that employers want: analytical thinking, team building, multitasking and problem solving under duress.

At a book signing, I ran into a science-fiction writer who moonlights as a designer of educational video games with a biotech theme.

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  1. Hunter McDaniel says:

    I’m skeptical about the capability of any ‘tool’ (such as educational video games) to make any real difference in education. The tools have to be integrated into a ‘system’ which knows how to exploit them.

    What would make a difference is competition, which would allow not only choice among schools but choice among instruction and delivery models.

  2. This kind of thing reminds me of the predictions for television in its early years –

    Shakespeare in every home! Culture and education for all!

    Not quite how it worked out…but a worthy goal.

    My hat’s off to people who can pull this off.

  3. Richard Nieporent says:

    How many times do I have to say it? You can’t go outside until you finish playing your video games!

  4. Why can’t you apply yourself like little Ender?

  5. Walter E. Wallis says:

    0.K. Who was S/He?

  6. “called for federal research into how the addictive pizzazz of video games can be converted into serious learning tools”…why *federal* research? If there is a serious case to be made here, why wouldn’t the existing videogame companies be all over it? Or even better, why don’t these researchers start their own company, or even their own non-profit, and just do it?

  7. Walter, “Ender’s Game” is classic SF. Much of the story revolves around a game that, well, why spoil it for you?

    Better read some quick before all the science in science fiction becomes science fact.

    The problem facing instructional game developers is that there’s no coherent and consistent theory of learning on which they can base their design. Without that the product is entirely dependent on the genius, or lack, of the game designer and there’s no way to predetermine if the game will be decent and workmanlike, a frigging disaster or an elegant expression of the designers vision within, but not limited by, the rules that govern learning.

    Until that coherent and consistent theory of learning shows up there’s no way to do cognitive engineering for want of a better term. Without the reduction of the science to engineering rules there’s no way to determine whether the educational game has been properly engineered hence no way to determine if it’ll succeed or fail.

    That approach is OK when you’re banging out some code in your den after work but once you get past the level of sophistication and size you’re lost.