Can Games Save Education?

If one took in every session about games at SXSW, one might conclude that the Gamification of everything is nothing less than the second coming. I have to say, I enjoyed many of the sessions on games and their potential but I certainly wasn't ready to go as far a one gentleman and the herd of others in the session Learning 2025: School is out Forever, who declared after working in groups that the number one way to fix school was through games. Really? Nothing to do with crazy numbers of standardized tests in US schools, underfunding, or teacher's values linked to standardized test results? It seemed to me that group had drunk the Kool-aid, just saying.

To me it goes to show that if you expose a bunch of people to a bunch of sessions on one thing, they all start to see that thing as the solution even if they are a bunch of seasoned educators. So I was really happy to attend the session Cheaper, Better, Faster: Can Casual Games Save Education? and especially happy to hear Scot Osterweil, Creative Director Education Arcade at MIT say that not all games are good, even some that portray themselves as educational, and that it was time to separate the hype from what is real.

Osterweil talked about how play and games are natural to children as they construct their own vision of the world. What games and play provide is the 5 Freedoms:
  • The Freedom to Experiment
  • The Freedom to Fail
  • The Freedom to Fashion Identities- You can understand your own identity and"try on" other people
  • The Freedom of Effort- You can go full tilt playing and then rest at will
  • The Freedom of Interpretation-Each person has his/her own unique interpretation
A game player has her/his own personal motivation. The key to creating educational games is channeling play into meaningful activities. Osterweil says that instead of just being "candy" a game can be a "gourmet" meal.

And if you look at the type of games coming out of the Education Arcade at MIT, you can see the gourmet!

is a joint effort of MIT Education Arcade and the Smithsonian Institute. They invite kids to log on and discover clues to unravel mysteries. It's an online/offline interactive event over 8 weeks where kids collaborate and race against time to save the world from environmental disaster.

And then there are the Augmented Reality Games from MIT

0 Responses

Post a Comment