Are Video Games The Future Of Learning?

 

video games
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Photo courtesy of Peter Griffin

In a little over 30 years, video games have become one of the most pervasive, profitable, and influential forms of entertainment across the world. Perhaps most illustrative of this is the existence of television channels dedicated to gaming – in particular Starcraft.

But video games have moved well beyond entertainment. From  addictions, to ADD therapy, to providing comfort during economic recessions and depressions, video games are playing an increasingly active role in defining us.

With the role of video games growing in importance, is it really any surprise to think that education will have to follow suit? I don’t think so. Video games as education have existed for as long as I have been breathing.

Growing up I played Number Crunchers, Math Blaster, Oregon Trail, and US Presidents to name a few. Even games that I wouldn’t have considered educational at the time contain educational value ( Sim City) according to Mark Prensky. Simulations (like Sim City) were once “the province of gamers, scientists, and the military, [but today] has emerged as a huge buzzword in training.”

Take for example the flight simulator. The “flight simulator was originally conceived as an entertainment device for fairs. Nevertheless, the flight simulator is [now] acknowledged as a revolution in learning and training [by the military and commercial flight schools].”


The real question
is will games ever be accepted by those who need to accept it – the teachers and parents? That is a much more difficult question to answer. According to a 2007 survey conducted by
Project Tomorrow we have some work to do in this area.

Among the survey findings:

  • More than half of students in grades 3 through 12 believe educational gaming would help them learn.
  • Only 16% of teachers, 15% of administrators and 19% of parents are on board today – although there was significantly more support for further exploration of the potential.
  • And 11% of teachers say they’re already using video games in class, no matter how much you roll your eyes.

     

To download the full report by Project Tomorrow click the link: Speak Up: 2007 National Findings

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