Wednesday, October 18, 2006

No Child Left Unstimulated

Bolding and enlarging added by l'il ole me...

Video games can reshape education
Games teach team building, multitasking and problem-solving under duress

By Ben Feller
Updated: 7:10 p.m. ET Oct 17, 2006
WASHINGTON - Scientists call it the next great discovery, a way to captivate students so much they will spend hours learning on their own. It's the new vision of video games.

The Federation of American Scientists — which typically weighs in on matters of nuclear weaponry and government secrecy declared Tuesday that video games can redefine education.

Capping a year of study, the group called for federal research into how the addictive pizazz of video games can be converted into serious learning tools for schools.


Paul said...

As a librarian and gamer with a Masters degree in Teaching, I'm very pleased with this study. These results are nothing new, but the results are still great. The work of Marc Prensky ( and his book "Don't Bother Me Mom - I'm Learning," the work of James Paul Gee and an assortment of others have adovacted this for years.

The site "Video Games in Education" (
provides a good list of resouces on the subject as well.


A. G. Rud said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Aaron Schutz said...

I don't think Jim Gee would see his work as any kind of simple panacea, just to be clear.

He might be willing to guest post on this blog if we asked him.

Richard said...

I think what is interesting about this research is its general instrumentalization of knowledge to fit within corporate ideas of the ideal worker. Another recent book was Beck and Wade, Got Game: How the Gamer Generation is Reshaping Business Forever. The authors found that videogames are actually training students for the new world of work, arguing they teach kids that “they are stars,” that they are the boss, that there is always an answer to every problem and that trial and error is almost always the best plan. Kids also learn that life is about competition and that “young people rule.”
The authors then translate this to the world of work, where they find that gamers are 50 percent more likely than nongamers of the same age to describe themselves as “a deep expert in my work.” They find that 60 percent of frequent gamers, versus 45 percent of nongamers, are more willing to take a chance. And they find that gamers more commonly view failure as “just part of the game.”
But how useful is this research? It is arguing that video games are good and thus supporting the status quo. It does not really engage the critique of the deeper cognitive issues surrounding video games, the effects of their individualistic nature or the negative messages they often promote. And even the positives they suggest are offered as uncritical benefits, when some could argue overconfidence in one’s ability, unnecessary risk-taking and seeing the world as based solely on competition are potentially negative.
The deeper question is whether education is solely about preparing students for the world of work, or whether there are deeper commitments like civic education, fostering creativity, tolerance and community and opening the mind. Sure school needs to engage students in excitement about learning, but does that necessarily mean replicating the home leisure experience?

Sade said...

I believe that this research is a great way to help kids. Many children today are attached to these video games. It has been said that games are no good and are just a waste of time, but now with this research at hand it has brought video games into a new light. I believe that playing the video game will help students become better thinkers without even having to focus to deeply into learning as if the were at school. Of course all games are not good such as killing games, but games that are strategy games are. These types of video games are very intense, and they stimulate the mind.

A. G. Rud said...

Sade, I will grant you some of these points. One of my former colleagues (David O'Brien), now at Minnesota, did substantial research and outreach work while here at Purdue with underperforming HS students who did poorly in classrooms but came alive when working with computer games and online literacy activities.

I am, however, concerned about the panacea aspect of such coverage. Largely, educational problems are not technical problems, and do not admit of technical fixes.

As a faculty member in a college of education, I see some of the work done by colleagues and graduate students in educational technology, and am not sanguine about how essentially FORMAL work, such as website design, zowie graphics and so forth, improve education, or help us understand educational phenomena. We also have tenured faculty in our English department that do research in gaming. Some of this is valuable, we need to see what is being developed, and then there is the literacy work of activists scholars like O'Brien, but some of it is conceptually thin and undertheorized.

Craig A. Cunningham said...

Yes, A.G., we should be skeptical about ANY claim that a particular technology (or anything else for that matter) is an educational panacea. However, video games present an interesting combination of technologies with potentially educational approaches that I think we need to pay attention to. The best of them are not only multimedial, tactile, complex, at least partially authentic (both in tasks and "assessment"), individualizable, engaging, potentially cooperative, and relatively inexpensive, but also goal-based (cf. Roger Schank at on data, involving multiple resources (look at the manual for some games!), adjustable in terms of skill level or what is handled automatically, rooted in disciplinary knowledge, and customizable. Perhaps they will not "redefine" education, but they may cause us to rethink our notion of what is possible on a mass scale.

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