More and more reports continue to stream in that gamers (think beyond the stereotype) are much more "on top of things" than non-gamers in many areas. An example I recently heard of explains that surgeons who play games are able to operate more efficiently than surgeons who do not. This book is an excellent idea, the students who learn educational principles from this book would be able to have fun and learn at the same time.
Brock University education professor talks about his new book, which aims to incorporate gaming into the classroom.
Typically, video games and schoolwork are seen as opposing forces, where one must suffer due to the time requirements of the other. However, some see games as an excellent vehicle for enhancing the learning process. Case in point: Sony unveiled plans earlier this year to incorporate its PlayStation Portable into British classrooms and will also be publishing Relentless Software's education-focused extension to the megapopular Buzz! series of quiz games for the PlayStation 2.
Another to tie gaming to the classroom is Dr. David Hutchison, author of Playing to Learn: Video Games in the Classroom. As a teacher's manual, Playing to Learn aims to help educators incorporate the study of games into the school curriculum. The manual includes exercises appropriate for students in grades 4 to 12, and it covers a range of subject matter, including mathematics, health and physical education, music, computers, and business. Playing to Learn also includes contributions from various sources within the gaming industry. More information on Playing to Learn is available through Hutchison's Web site.
GameSpot recently got in touch with Dr. Hutchison for a more in-depth look at the book and what the good doctor hopes to accomplish with his work.
GameSpot: Why have you written this book, and what do you hope to accomplish with it?
David Hutchison: I wanted to write a practical how-to book that would help teachers incorporate video games into their teaching. I saw plenty of possibilities for integrating video games into the elementary and secondary school classroom, but I couldn't find many teacher resources available online or in books. So I set about writing a new book that features dozens of video game activity ideas for multiple subject areas, including language arts, math, science, social studies, computers, business studies, physical and health education, music, and the visual arts, among other subjects.
My hope is that teachers will find the book's activity ideas valuable and begin to develop full-fledged units that focus on video games. I also hope the book will bridge the distance between young gamers' play and learning activities by inviting them to study the video games they play--to take a critical look at them, how they are designed and marketed, for example. I also hope to encourage teachers who are gamers to find ways of incorporating their passion for video games into their teaching.
GS: What aspects of video games are you specifically looking at in the book?
DH: The activities in the book cover a wide range of video game topics. There are numerous language arts, visual arts, and music activities that explore how video games are designed. There are business-studies activities that explore how video games are marketed and advertised. There are language-arts activities that focus on writing previews and reviews of video games.
One language-arts activity, for example, asks students to choose a reader-contributed video game review from a website, such as GameSpot, that could benefit from some revisions and editing. Since user reviews tend to be on the short side, they are excellent resources for teaching grammar and sentence structure skills to students in the elementary grades.
GS: Do you see the book as more of a resource for teachers, or is it something that kids would want to pick up for themselves? How accessible is the book?
DH: The book is written for teachers, but I would hope that anyone who is a gamer and who knows a teacher will bring this book to their attention. This includes students themselves, who have a passion for video games and want to propose a school-based project to their teacher centered around one or more of the activity ideas in the book.
GS: Do you think getting kids interested in making games will lead more of them to pursue careers in software engineering or other high-tech fields?
DH: I certainly hope so. There is a concern in the scientific and computer industry in the US right now that not enough young people are choosing science and technology as career paths. University enrollment in science and computer studies programs is a particular concern here, and technology companies such as Microsoft are actively encouraging young people to choose a career in computer programming.
If the activities and "Afterword" in this book help to ignite a passion for video game design in students, I would be very happy. But the book is also aimed at students who do not aspire to become video game designers, but are nonetheless interested in better understanding the social nature of gaming in the 21st century.
GS: What do you think an ideal age is to introduce kids to video game design?
DH: That's a difficult question to answer. Currently, there are video games and computer software which are aimed squarely at preschool children who are still learning how to walk and talk. Might that be too young for children to be using computers? There is an ongoing debate in educational circles as to how young is too young for the real-world sandbox to be replaced by the computer.
My view is that right up to the age of nine or even older, children need regular and sustained contact with people, objects, and manipulatives in the real world. That's why the activities in this book start at the fourth grade and not earlier.
In terms of video game design, there are terrific software tools available right now--some for free--that are targeted to children and teachers. Scratch, from the MIT Media Lab, is one such example. I list some others in the Afterword to the book.
GS: You cover a wide range of subject areas with the book, such as math, science, history, and business. Why do you think it is important to do so?
DH: I wanted the book to be relevant to as many teachers as possible. I also saw different kinds of synergies between video games and various subject areas.
For example, a number of the history activities in the book focus on the study of historically accurate weapons and places as represented in the Brothers in Arms series of World War II video games, for example. Some of the math activities, on the other hand, focus on the numerous statistics that are tracked by video games, such as leaderboard rankings and distance traveled in a driving game. Students are asked to collate and analyze these statistics and to create data tables.
GS: Have you received any kind of backlash for trying to teach kids about the positive aspects of gaming?
DH: Not yet. My defense would be that in addition to the positive aspects of gaming, the book gives voice to many of the criticisms that have been made of video games over the years.
There are contributed discussion articles on the topics of video game violence, video game addiction, and health and video games, for example. Also, there are activities that encourage students to moderate the amount of time they spend playing video games and to improve their posture when playing video games.
The book's basic point is that video games provide a plethora of teaching and learning possibilities in the elementary and secondary school classroom. Far from ignoring video games, teachers should find ways of incorporating and referencing them in their teaching, if only to peak students' interest and show the relevance of what is taught in schools to popular culture.
Yeah, kids don't get enough video games the rest of the time. Do we really need to make them a significant part of school time?
the author actually replied back to my comment! thats great - its good to see he has a sense of humor. and no its not a wig. Not sure why he deleted his comment?
If implemented correctly it would work, but it'd have to be made fun not like a test, but like a game still. Making a school test electronic won't make it automatically fun.
Kids, & teens learn more when they're interested in something. This is a positive thing, indeed.:) But as for that picture: both guy, & girl in that image look older than elementary children, & they look like they're on anisthetic, especially the guy; actually, it's just because the pic was takin while he was in mid-smile. But, to get back to this, I'm all for it. It's cool, & it'll help students in our society learn more, & better. I'm of the opinion, that right now, our education system sucks, & needs a drastic overhaul.
I wish he'd come to my school. I'm a Computer Science major with a minor in Education Schooling and Society doing research on this exact thing. And I agree, some great writing has been done using videogames as another media for storytelling.
I agree rouge, alot of kids in my class don't pay attention during normal school work, but when we do funner things, everybody really pays attention. And video games could help people write better stories, look at Knights of the Old Republic, that story was phenomenal.
I have to agree with him, if you are having fun while learning everybody wins. With the current school system everyone loses since alot of kidskids don't pay attention.
Video games are a medium with which one can express almost anything. They can tell stories that span worlds (Mass Effect). They can make us experience an epic struggle for survival (Halo). They can make us care about someone that doesn't even exist (Final Fantasy). And they can even teach our brains a thing or two (Big Brain Academy). If those experiences aren't worth learning about, I don't know what is!
Finally I feel like entering XXI century :) Educational system badly needs a revolution, and Hutchison's methodology could be such one
Avalanche Studios co-founder says developer's ambition is for action, not moments that make players cry; steampunk-style game on hold. Full Story
- Posted May 15, 2013 6:33 am PT
4A Games creative director Andrew Prokhorov thanks Jason Rubin for telling the studio's story, but says, "We deserve the ratings we get." Full Story
- Posted May 16, 2013 12:44 pm PT