"If the folks at MIT see the merit of video games, well then…"

Exciting new eschoolnews link overviews a component of the new schooling I’m contemplating: autonomously engaged-in learning through video games. How cool to be around as a new mode of teaching and learning is being developed!

Intelligent design is something the game makers are coming at through trial and error. The eschoolnews piece highlights the list of hard-won lessons, for all of the wikiness’s video game designers to profit from:

The report warns that injecting content learning into a game where it doesn’t fit might create experiences that are entertaining, but their educational value is suspect.

“If your spaceship requires you to answer a math problem before you can use your blasters, chances are you’ll hate the game and the math. This is the strategy taken by most of the legacy edutainment games (Math Blaster), as well as many of the new attempts to create commercially viable learning games today (immersive 3-D math game, Dimension M),” the report says.

Another mistake game developers make, says the MIT report, is to take educational content and make it look like a game; for example, putting algebra problems in a 3-D virtual world, or placing the periodic table of elements in a shooting arcade.

When creating games, there are a number of principles that must be followed, the MIT researchers say:

1. Choose wisely.
2. Think small (sometimes).
3. Educational games don’t always equal entertainment games.
4. Put learning and game play first.
5. Find the game in the content.
6. Break the mold for where educational games are played.
7. Harness the “soft skill” learning from games but connect it with content.
8. Don’t ignore, nor be limited by, teacher training and readiness.
9. Play everywhere and anywhere.
10. Reduce, reuse, and recycle.
11. Define the learning goals.
12. Forge partnerships.
13. Don’t ignore or be too constrained by academic/state standards.
14. Not just who but what, where, when, and why.

I would love the idea of collaborating on design of games that engage kids in hours of neural pathway building via literacy skills. We know from the wild success of the xbox and other interactive platforms the power of these vehicles. They are definitely learning plenty, and their thinking measureably demonstrates this.

Now, how to adapt these games and turn them (de-violenced) in more socially helpful educational directions? Now that I think of it, Math Blaster did help my kid become a fair math student.
But then, eventually, he hated math.

image courtesy of the good folks at

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