Why video games could be tools for educators

IGN has an article about the impact of video games on learning. It’s a pretty good overview of James Gee’s work, and even includes an interview with him. (Just ignore the last sentence in the first paragraph ;)).   Some excerpts worth pondering:

Videogames always teach you skills in the order you need them, starting with the most basic. Hardcore gamers may find it redundant when they’re taught how to jump each time they start a new game, but it’s actually a sound educational process. Basic skills are taught and then mastered so that they become second nature when more difficult problems are presented. Not only that, videogames won’t let you move on to the difficult problems requiring the most skills until you have mastered the previous ones and passed the lower levels. How often do students fall hopelessly behind because the class has moved on to higher order problems before the basics were mastered?

Videogames have the ability to provide on-demand and situated learning. That means you’re rarely given extraneous information that isn’t necessary for solving a problem and can quickly find (and understand!) relevant facts through simple searches. Role playing games are especially good at this. In order to solve problems, players are required to ask around for new information and then apply it. Using a book to search for answers is much less directed or focused. Even worse, they don’t have (many) images, video, or sound to help someone understand the definition or function of something. In a game, you’ll rarely be told how to do something without extensive multimedia context.

In the interview, Gee few questions about preparing students for the tech heavy world and how feasible is incorporating games into learning. His answers to IGN “show just how far we have to go and what can be done right now.”

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