"Games and the Future of Learning"

Illustration for article titled Games and the Future of Learning

I mentioned the Games, Learning & Society Conference in Madison, Wisconsin back when a call for papers was put out. Michael Abbott of the Brainy Gamer has some interesting notes on the conference, which was held this past Thursday and Friday. The wrap up of the keynote speech, delivered by James Gee of Arizona State University, is an interesting meditation on the role of games (and not just 'edutainment') in education:

Gee sees broad implications for students in this regard. "Give students smart tools and let them use them and modify them to suit their purposes." Such self-motivated learning moves students away from merely consuming knowledge and encourages them to produce knowledge and apply it in meaningful ways. Furthermore, Gee observed, when communities form around these activities, they are linked by a common endeavor, rather than by race, class, gender, or disability.

Gee clearly situates video games within an overall theory of learning and literacy with genuine power to transform students and equip them to address complex problems. If passion communities could be formed to solve real-world problems like hunger and environmental degradation, Gee believes we would be much better equipped to face these issues head-on. The challenge, according to Gee, isn't just about teaching our kids; it's about ensuring they have a viable world to live in.

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Abbott's discussion of the environment of the conference — sounding quite different from your typical academic/professional gathering — is also worth a read.

GLS - Beyond Games and the Future of Learning [The Brainy Gamer]

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DISCUSSION

@Medicine Seller [ZTF]: If you can't see how games can help with education, you probably haven't looked around enough. More than one Non-Profit is using games to help get their message out. I'd say a game like SimCity is fairly educational, along with many of the other Sim- titles, and there's plenty of games which teach at least a little about money and budgeting (always useful). Some History-Based titles are also pretty good while still teaching a good amoutn about the time period involved and even the culture of a given region. And sure, there's also still the classic edutainment type titles like Carmen Sandiego and similar games, but even neat Trivia Games will usually help you learn something.

Beyond that, if you look at almost every game, you'll see that it teaches you to learn — not that everyone takes it outside the game context, but the entire point of most games is to learn the strange rules that apply within the context of the game, then to use those rules to overcome an obstacle — usually an iterative process, and quite applicable to most disciplines.