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Friday, November 25, 2011

Gaming in Education

OK, something you may have been waiting for. Here is a TED talk about how gaming makes kids smarter, and argues that gaming should be a major part of school. While I agree that there are certain skills that are captured in playing computer and video games, such as being able to process large amounts of information, analyze it and make quick decisions based on that information, and in many games this could be a collaborative activity, let's remind ourselves that this is a different skill set than, say, being able to have patience and focus on a complex problem that requires long periods of time to collect information, keep records and notes, stay organized with ideas as they come up in this thought process, perhaps, in the case of science, develop a physical experiment to test ideas, or build a device or object or model to further investigate aspects of this complex problem, find other information about it from numerous sources, and develop logical conclusions from all this work. Gaming does not really jive with such a skill set.

My point is this: this video, while making a good point, is not a silver bullet. I will always argue that there is no single solution to the optimal education of any individual. There are so many good ways to learn, and it is a useful exercise to experience multiple ways of learning a topic or subject. In real life, one is faced with countless possible problems at a moment's notice, and depending on the type of problem and the environment you are exposed to that problem, some solutions will fall back to what you learn in a 'classical' or traditional manner, while others will make use of a skill set developed best through video gaming systems. Others will require the use of physical tools such as hammers and nails and saws, which one will never learn through gaming. Do NOT fall into the trap that you need to do all of one thing over none of some other things...learn about both methods and have a broad set of intellectual approaches to take on any problem! Remember, if you can talk about an idea or concept in multiple ways with multiple examples, chances are you have mastered the information.

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