Educational Video Games Mix Cool With Purpose

Today’s generation of students loves video games and some companies are trying to put this passion “to good use.” In the article below, children “are playing educational video games as part of their school curriculum, in after-school programs or via the Web from home.” Sasha Barab, professor at Indiana University, created Quest Atlantis, a game that incorporates science. Barab states in the article, “Partly what I have to argue to teachers is that there’s value seeing that content bound up in a real-world story.” These educational video games are online for interaction and collaboration, use core subjects such as physics and math to finish a task or trial and work toward solving problems that relate to the real world. In Gamestar Mechanic players even have to defend their solutions to other Gamestar Mechanic players. Alan Gershenfiled, a former executive at Activision and the founder of E-Line Media, says “You’re essentially designing a digital system for others. That’s a very powerful 21st century skill.”

A New York City public school called Quest to Learn opened this fall and focuses on game-based learning. While this high initiative is a great start to engaging students in learning, how can traditional schools incorporate such educational video games in to their curriculum? How can publishers work to create content which truly involves students in creating their own learning? How will the role of teachers need to change to become a skilled facilitator given the scope of interactivity which technology provides?

New York Times
November 2, 2009
Educational Video Games Mix Cool With Purpose

One of KC Phillips’s favorite video games is the Xbox shoot-’em-up Halo, because, he says, his dad taught him how to play it when he was younger.

Now 15 and a high school sophomore in Madison, Wis., KC views the game with a more discerning eye. Last year, he played Gamestar Mechanic, an educational video game that asks players to solve a set of puzzles in order to win enough power to design and create their own video games.

“Now every single time I play video games, I really think about how the designers built it and what mechanics went into it,” he said.

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