It’s hard to imagine parents being completely happy with their kids playing video games at school, yet it has been found that educational gaming works in the K-12 setting. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology has even made the case for educational gaming in its 2009 report Moving Learning Games Forward, noting that games are useful for teaching, simulation, and promoting critical thinking.
“The popularity of video games is not the enemy of education, but rather a model for best teaching strategies,” neurologist Judy Willis wrote in an Edutopia blog post (www.edutopia.org/blog/video-games-learning-student-engagement-judy-willis). “Games insert players at their achievable challenge level and reward player effort and practice with acknowledgement of incremental goal progress, not just final product.”
Even so, educational gaming has not made many inroads on college campuses.
“By far, the best serious games and the biggest use of serious games are at the master’s level,” Clark Aldrich, an educational simulation and interface designer, told David LaMartina for an edcetera.rafter blog post. For instance, MBA programs use market simulations and medical students can examine body parts digitally before treating real patients.
However, that may be changing as the NMC 2012 HorizonReport predicts widespread adoption of educational gaming on campuses by 2015.
“Open-ended, challenge-based, truly collaborative games are an emerging category of games that seems especially appropriate for higher education,” the report says. “When embedded in the curriculum, they offer a path into the material that allows the student to learn how to learn along with mastering the subject matter. These games lend themselves to curricular content, requiring students to discover and construct knowledge in order to solve problems.”
Some campuses have already started the process. At University of North Carolina-Charlotte, computer-science professors used the Game2Learn program to retain students, while Purdue University uses the Serious Games Initiative in its math, science, and humanities departments.
Boise State University is using an online environment, styled after the World of Warcraft game, where students go on educational “quests” and receive “experience points” which are used to determine their final grades. Even the Wharton School of Business is using the marketplace simulation games Fare Game and Future View to teach students about airfare competition and how to conduct market research.