Study: Gaming Likely to be Major Part of Education

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Study: Gaming Likely to be Major Part of Education

With summer vacation now just under two months out in some places, there are likely plenty of young scholars out there considering the sheer pile of games that await them and the massive block of free time about to be unleashed. But a new report from the University of Indiana suggests that gaming isn't just a summer activity, and it might well ultimately prove to be a major part of education as well.

The report suggests that modern students--at least large numbers of same--spend about as much time playing video games as they do in class, by the time the after-school time, weekend time, and vacation times are factored in. That's a lot of gaming by most any standard, but the U.S. Department of Education sees that as less an indictment of modern scholarship and more an opportunity to introduce new kinds of gaming into the process. As explained by U.S. Department of Education's Games for Learning lead Erik Martin, "You can imagine a lot of the time which of the two activities they might feel more engaged in or more relevant."

Point in hand, Martin continued, noting that getting that engaged feeling to work in an educational environment could go a long way toward improving the overall system. So later this month, the Department of Education will bring together a wide array of participants--from students and teachers to game designers and publishers--a format in which to share ideas about game development and how education can be better incorporated into games. Thus, educational gaming might well go from a sub-par format to a welcome addition to a gamer's lineup.

Indeed, on a certain level, this is already happening. The parents of young children out there are often seen singing the praises of the ABCMouse system, though that's hardly universal, and some math classes are reportedly seen putting the "Portal" series of games to use as an object lesson for not only logic, but also for physics, both of which are fine lessons for "Portal" to teach.

There's a certain value in using unconventional methods to teach. While my own high school experience is on the other side of quite a bit of time, I still remember quite a bit of my high school physics courses, owed in large part to the unconventional teaching methods of my instructor at the time. We're all likely aware that all students have different learning styles; some are visual, some are experiential and some are auditory. So to take advantage of the various learning styles out there, as might well be done effectively by a video game, could represent a fundamental change in the way education is delivered to students.

It's a point worth considering; after all, we put games to work most every day in fields of training. Often called "gamification", it takes the basic principles of gaming like competition and completing certain milestones and incorporates these into a larger "game" of sorts played against others in a firm or even an industry. If games can be used to train, then why couldn't games be used to teach?

Only time will tell, naturally, just what outcomes come out of this comparatively new philosophy. But considering what we know so far, gamification might just slip into education as readily as it's slipped into business. Perhaps, given the game-savvy nature of students, it may go even farther.

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