Often associated with violence and cultural degradation, researchers at University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Game+Learning+Society think video games deserve a better reputation as teaching tools in classrooms and workplaces.
The group is currently designing video games that create engaging ways of learning about biological systems, civic activism, pro-social behavior and many other STEM topics. Perhaps more importantly, they’re building games that people actually want to play.
Forget “Oregon Trail” and “Number Munchers.” The new generation of educational video games aims to immerse players in situations that can evaluate their learning in real time and rewire their brains. Using innovative game mechanics, data analysis and assessment methods, the goal is to seamlessly teach players without them realizing there’s a lesson involved.
Extensive back-end analytics allow researchers at GLS to mine patterns of play and tie them to specific learning outcomes. Could these games replace the need for after-the-fact assessments?
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan hopes so. “I would love to see…more reliable, meaningful, and easy-to-administer assessments that help us understand whether we are teaching the noncognitive skills that predict students’ success in college, careers, and life,” he said at the American Educational Research Association Conference in May. “This is the next frontier in assessment.”
What are the workplace applications for video game-based learning?
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Photo credit: Game+Learning+Society.