Are video games finally getting educational?

This article on the THE website explains that, at least in one district, video games have been adapted to math instruction, with good results. 

According to the director of mathematics in the Austin, Texas district where the use of these games was piloted, “What we saw next was amazing–our students were not only succeeding, but truly becoming interested in learning mathematics again.”

It makes sense. As a parent and a teacher, I have thought for many years how pregnant with possibility these games are. We are looking for a way to engage students:  how sensible, then, to make what already engages them a vehicle for educational experience? If it works with remedial students in Texas, it will be transferable elsewhere. 

Hey, Arne Duncan:  why not put some money behind the development of these games? While math skills are needing remediation, so are writing and reading skills. Let’s meet the kids where we are, and stop the administrative musical chair games. 

photo courtesy creative commons image search

Addendum 31 Jan. My fellow learners in the CUC cohort of Educational Technology are smart people. When they see articles like Malcolm Gladwell’s review of Steve Johnson‘s 2005 book, they tell it like they see it, and they see it well. They quote from Gladwell: 

[Video game] “players have to explore and sort through hypothesis in order to make sense of the game’s environment, which is why a modern video game can take forty hours to complete. Far from being engines of instant gratification, as they are often described, video games are actually all about delayed gratification…At the same time, players are required to manage a dizzying array of information and options…you have to craft a longer-term strategy, in order to juggle and coordinate competing interests.” (Gladwell 2)

And then they reflect on it as only a practicing teacher could:  skeptically, but hopefully:

When considered in that context, we may want to embrace the phenomenom of video games to a certain extent. Because if a student has the ability to problem solve, prioritize, set and attain goals so successfully in that environment, we need to find a way to harness that brain power and integrate similar experiences in the classroom. I’m not suggesting that we turn our classroom into a video arcade (do those still exist?) but the evidence is becoming more and more overwhelming that teens thrive on technology and the digital world and the video game is one part of it that may be more beneficial than we realized. 

The process of waking up to new benefits:  priceless.

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