Monday, February 24, 2014

Using Software Games in Education

The authors of this article seem pleased with themselves, not realizing of course that I wrote a better, more detailed exposition on the subject 9 years ago!  They write:
Lots of games, from dedicated educational titles to adult brain-teasers, make claims about how they can improve someone's mental performance in various ways. But there's often little evidence available to back up these claims and, in many cases, the evidence itself is ambiguous. Can playing games actually help in the classroom?

The answer appears to be yes, based on a talk by Stanford's Dan Schwartz at the American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting. But effectively leveraging gaming probably requires taking a lot of factors into consideration. At early stages, the games themselves have to be designed to focus on developing skills, rather than encouraging memorization, while more advanced students can benefit from games that build an intuitive sense of a specific subject matter. In all cases, the games had to be coupled with a good classroom explanation that put things into a broader context.
Here's the link to my post from 2005, along with the denouement:
The game sparked the interest, and then the real learning did begin.


maxutils said...

Going with the technology thing ... I can't believe you haven't commented on the new CA standardized testing system that is forcing school districs to spend huge sums of money for computers to be used primarily for their also ridiculous standardized test ...instead of using the much less inexpensive method of using scantrons, and scoring them centrally. Most students have computers either at home, or with them, or both ... technology in the class room is vastly overrated, and a money pit.

Anonymous said...

So true, but legislators and school higher-ups need to appear to be doing something...

maxutils said...

Anonymous... EXACTLY. Same crap with in services. Schools don't need more technology, they need less. Before anything is purchased, there should be a demonstrated need ... generally, most teachers have a style which suits them ... some can make practical use of technology, others find it wasted ... and, if you want to make the argument that they need to be instructed in the use of technology? Most of them have it at home, and are better at it than we are. My favorite example, still ... our school received a grant to buy computers for every teacher. Not a bad idea; eases communication, allows teachers to prep material and grade. But-- some teachers wanted desktops, and some wanted laptops. So naturally, we couldn't mix orders, so EVERYONE GOT ONE OF EACH.