{859} revision 2 modified: 12-13-2010 04:31 gmt

Learning by Playing: Video Games in the Classroom

  • My initial reaction was very skeptical and critical:
    • Video games are pleasurable and addictive because they are not like real life; the problems (more accurately, puzzles) posed always have some solution, again unlike the real world.
    • A purpose of education is to convey both information about the world and strategies for understanding it / succeeding in it (or, perhaps more relevantly, strategies what not to do -- see iatrogenic science). The less the learning environment reflects the real world, the less the students learn.
      • Up to a point, of course - part of the role of education is to render hierarchical something that was arrived at very randomly and haphazardly so as to be easier to remember and use. The learning environment has to reflect the William-James-ish pragmatic balance between too simple and too complex.
  • Video games, I initially thought and still feel, reflect less of the real world and its attendant frustrations, hence are inferior for learning about said thing.
    • Upon further thought: perhaps the increase in engagement & flow more than compensates for decreased realism? By the end of the article, I was thinking this. Maybe we should just re-engineer our working environment so that all tasks can be re-framed as addictive, pleasureable games. We've been changing the environment forever, and have already gone a bit down this path, so why not? If such is to occur (as I anticipate it will), these kids will be well prepared.
    • The whole purpose of being here is to .. well, enjoy it .. if the kids like doing these things, and they are later equally able to lead productive lives, there is no problem.
  • Playing video games is not the same as learning how to force yourself to study something that you don't understand, something that heretofore you saw no interest in. Games must be designed carefully to afford such choices, so that the players do not blindly follow the task-trail laid out by the designers. Elementary school students of course should explore microcosms with the due understanding that eventually the same processes will/can be applied to the real non-designed exploration that is life...
  • The question at hand (video games in education) is hence isomorphic (or at least related) to a much deeper question: is viewing life a game, a thing to be optimized and solved, a good philosophy? (even the question shows how deeply ingrained the ideas of valuation are!). I say no.