Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Games for Learning Summit

Video games are the future of education! We already knew that. We've known that for a while. But it's nice to see that the U.S. Department of Education is coming around to our side. Erik Martin, the department's Games for Learning lead spoke with Polygon about where technology may lead us with education. He also sees video games as an opportunity to transform education and reinvent it in a way that works for kids and adults.

"If you look at the life of a student ... a lot of students play on average about 10,000 hours of video games by the time they are graduating high school. That is almost the same amount they are spending in schools," said Erik Martin, the U.S. Department of Education's Games for Learning lead. "You can imagine a lot of the time which of the two activities they might feel more engaged in or more relevant.

This month, the department is holding it's first Games for Learning summit in New York. It'll be attended by game developers and publishers, students, teachers, and educational experts. The organizers want to use this as a testing ground and have open discussion groups with students and teachers to break down the barriers that prevent educational games from having an impact. Ubisoft is one of the larger publishers that will be attending.

As kids and adults become more involved in video games, schools are looking for unique ways to help bring interest back to subjects that tend to be forgotten (such as math, science, and history). It's difficult to make math fun. I have had a number of teachers try. My argument is that none of them brought in real world applications to math. If I had known how much math I would use with sewing, I would have payed more attention.

But before this there has been a movement to bring validity to gaming and geeky topics within the academic realm. For years anime and animation have been the subject of interest: considered the step-child of film because they are continually stereotyped as only being made available for kids. Now we're at a point where animation theory has been developed. I teach academic anime and gaming panels at conventions at least twice a year. The interest is there, it's a matter of convincing everyone to get on board and finding ways to impart the knowledge without it coming off as "another boring lecture."

Games for Learning is a starting point. I don't know if they will record or broadcast any of the panels, but if they do, I'll be sure to link them.

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