New Jersey Instructors Considering More Video Games in Classrooms

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New Jersey Instructors Considering More Video Games in Classrooms

Video games in classrooms aren't technically a new idea, but they have been one somewhat limited in scope. While most 80s kids--and even some 90s kids--remember their time of "Oregon Trail" and the like, the idea of a wider-scale gaming approach in the classroom is tough to follow. But there are some considering it, particularly out in New Jersey, as related from a recent article in The Daily Targum.

Ph.D candidate and instructor Erica Lucci advanced the concept, noting that video games actually have the ability to teach in a wider scope than standard methods of textbooks and rote learning, and it's not so much the play that has Lucci's attention, but rather the designing of said games. Though the play can certainly help as well; just ask former first grade teacher Joel Levin, who created MinecraftEdu, a type of rebuild of Minecraft focused on helping students do research more capably.

But Minecraft isn't just useful for its research skill version; the regular version also has lessons to teach about experimenting without fearing failure, developing a project from scratch, and similar issues. The play and design concepts, meanwhile, teach students how to empathize with a target market, considering what needs to be put into a game in order to make it a successful release, something that doesn't always happen. There are lessons of teamwork, lessons of business applications, market research, and a host of other skills that can be taught, but at the same time have a greater impact if studied independently.

Of course, no one's suggesting that a school turns over its curriculum to Kratos and the Mario Brothers. It just wouldn't fly. And educational games in the past have been unpleasant, laborious affairs that no one would be interested in playing. But there is a certain value here for video games that teach lessons just as much as they offer an exciting experience. "Oregon Trail" certainly qualified as an educational experience; you never really could tell how much food you'd need to get all the way to Oregon from Missouri when you're going about 10 miles an hour the whole way.

But can kids learn from games? We've already seen some valiant souls use World of Warcraft raid leadership as a resume bullet point, and in some cases, get jobs therein. We know that EvE Online is a lot like running a small business in a lot of ways. Is it so out of line to think that we could get an exciting, world-spanning adventure with a heavy emphasis on science, technology, and small engine repair? Honestly, I don't know, but I can't help but think the answer is "why in the world not?" We've seen games go from side-scrollers to globe-trotting open world romps in the space of about 20 years. Why would it be so out of line to think that, in another 20, they could be a replacement for school in some cases?

It's hard to imagine why that wouldn't be the case, and as such, hard to imagine why we wouldn't see it happen in just a few years. Only time will tell if our master's degrees turn into gamesmaster degrees, but it might be a future closer than anyone would expect.

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