Apr 6, 2009

Videogames and Education

Technology is one of the great innovators when it comes to teaching. If used properly, the right tool can help both instructor and student realize their educational goals far more quickly and effectively. However, despite the myriad of improvements now in place in schools all over the country, there are still many avenues of progress left under-realized. One of these is in the realm of videogames. In an industry once considered to be mere entertainment, there is now a brand new wave of learning tools being put to use.

Videogames are rapidly becoming the go-to resource for a variety of skill sets. However, this is nothing new. Children of the 80’s and early 90’s will remember a host of old-school games designed to teach things like resource management, basic math, and geography. Similarly, modern edu-games deal with a variety of different topics, from simple brain-teasers to full-fledged graphical adventures.

How effective are these new methods? Due to the pace at which innovations are being implemented, research is limited. However, some studies show that videogames are not necessarily more effective than traditional pen-and-paper methods towards improving cognitive functions and learning. However, as the techniques evolve, this could change. Students still expect to be engaged by the material they are presented with. Developing how this happens, such as though interaction and individual participation, is important to integrating new technologies into the curriculum. In many ways, educational videogames are still in their infancy stage, and there is a long way to go before comparisons can be made to traditional pedagogical techniques.

However, there are still many concerns about the unknown side effects of introducing these new techniques on a broad scale. One of the most common of these is the idea that violence in videogames (such as “blasting” the answer to an equation in Math Blaster) is psychologically harmful. Some see the games as promoting violence as a solution. Without a doubt, the majority of research on videogames has dealt with the effects of violent media on the psyche of the player, but all evidence seems to conclude that only the most violent videogames (i.e. those without any intrinsic value beyond simple entertainment) have an effect on the user (roughly the same as other forms of violent media, such as in movies or television programs). The validity of educational games in the classroom has yet to be truly defined, and as technology continues forward, these questions will come to center stage.


Jonathan Lopez said...

Follow the link below for an in-depth look at "Exploring the Potential: The Use of Gaming in Online Learning", an archived webinar hosted by iNACOl -


Jonathan Lopez said...

Follow this link for an article on Historical videogames, courtesy of Yahoo! Tech:

Jonathan Lopez said...

A few interesting articles on the benefits of "Serious" games, courtesy of eLearn Magazine: http://elearnmag.org/subpage.cfm?section=research&article=9-1