Games are thought to be big distractions to learning, especially the formal kind. I recall when I was in college, I’d stay up all night playing my favorite adventure and shoot ’em up games. Of course by the time I attend my classes, I’d be a walking zombie, with rarely anything getting through my sleepy brain. I wonder how I ever finished my degree a semester early.
Now word is that some schools are actually using video games as a tool for learning. Not only are they using video games as alternative means of teaching, they are actually using video games almost exclusively in their teaching curriculum.
Popular science writes how students are, for instance, encouraged to alter a game’s parameters in order to achieve the desired outcome, or to work in a social context in order to achieve some collaborative goals.
The Quest to Learn school opened last September in Manhattan, welcoming the first class of sixth-graders who will learn almost entirely through videogame-inspired activities, an educational strategy geared to keep kids engaged and prepare them for high-tech careers.
The goal, of course, is usually to win the game. But it’s in how the technology is used and manipulated that students learn. The video games might touch on knowledge of history, with the students role-playing as spies working against each other’s governments. Or the games might involve physics by requiring the students to move objects through space, given certain parameters. The possible scenarios go on and on.
With video games, learning becomes fun. Kids nowadays are bombarded with different sorts of media, like email, instant messaging, social networks, and video games. Why not explore these applications in order to foster a love for learning? The disadvantage, though, is that this teaching method might put too much focus on the fun aspect of learning, and not the intrinsic value of learning, itself.
Education through video games might be an appropriate methodology for preparing students for skills like programming, design, coding and the like. One concern here is whether this method also works for other real-world applications and professions. How about literacy? How about fundamentals in math?
Media is fast evolving, and along with this, everyone also follows suit. Education is but one of those important aspects of human life that is adapting well to change. Teachers are favoring online collaboration over traditional submission of paper homeworks. Classrooms usually have computers, audio-visual systems and wireless Internet access. Video games might just be the next big thing when it comes to helping impart the value of learning.