Teaching Beyond the Basics with Video Games

Fred Koch alerted me to another story about video games in education.  This Chicago Tribune piece is about David Williamson Shaffer, of Epistemic Games and the Department of Educational Psychology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

There’s not a lot that is new in the article, but we have another serious researcher to pay attention to.

Video games that teach beyond basics | Chicago Tribune:

For the past 10 years, Shaffer has been creating and researching the effects of computer games that immerse kids in virtual worlds that require them to solve real-world problems of specific professions.

The key is “using computer games to prepare children for a life of innovation and creativity rather than giving them standardized skills for life in the factory,” he said.

 “We can create worlds where players learn to think in innovative and creative ways about important topics.”

Specifically, Shaffer’s games immerse young players into the worlds of doctors, lawyers, engineers, journalists and others.

“The world would be a much better place if everyone who graduated from high school understood how to be a reporter and think about various news stories they see,” he said. “Or to understand the way doctors think about problems. We want to give kids a sense about how those people think.”

I’m just happy that people who are talking about retooling education are finally being paid attention to.

I decided to come back to this before posting it.
  The article mentions research, but the findings seem to be purely anecdotal.  Unfortunately, we have been biased toward scientific research, and people are not going to take this seriously until there is quantitative data available, but what would that look like?  Can you test, in a researchie sort of way, the skills that are developed in video games?  Can you test the skills that are developed in on-the-job training, and a quantitative way?  In a real sense, that’s the type of learning that happens while playing video games?

Goldfayn, Alex L.. “Video Games that Teach Beyond Basics.” Chicago Tribune 25 Dec 2006 27 Dec 2006 <http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/ chi-0612250068dec25,0,5964628.story?coll=chi-business-hed>.
Image Citation:
ES, “The Video Game Booth.” ES.’s Photostream. 24 Sep 2005. 27 Dec 2006 <http://flickr.com/photos/electrospray/46118353/>.

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Author: David Warlick

David Warlick has been an educator for the past 40+ years. He continues to do some writing, but is mostly seeking his next intersect between play, passion and purpose, dabbling in photography, drone videography and music production.