Video Games as an Educational ToolThe idea of using video games as a learning tool has been around for a while. The military, which includes the air force and both marines and army, utilize video game simulations to train with such as America’s Army (http://www.americasarmy.com/aa3.php). Police forces across the United States also use video game simulation for training purposes. The question is whether or not video games can be used for educational purposes for the industries main target market, children and teens and the answer is yes!
As technology becomes more and more a necessity in every day life, the idea of incorporating it within education programs is becoming more of a reality. Both teachers and parents are becoming familiar with the benefits available to students who use video games (http://www.adultlearn.com/video-games-education.html). Now let’s be clear here for a moment, when speaking of video games we most certainly are not speaking about games which incorporate violence such as the popular Call of Duty series or the Grand Theft Auto series and which have no educative purpose, what we are referring to are games that take a specific learning topic or objective and offer a virtual way of mastering said topic. The idea of such video games is that the student will hopefully learn but not realize they are doing so.
Examples of such educative video games are Re-Mission, which features Lead Roxxi, your gutsy and fully armed nanobot, who through challenging missions and rapid-fire assaults searches and destroys malignant cancer cells wherever they may hide (http://www.re-mission.net/site/game/index.php)
Another game, The River City Project, offers an interactive simulation for middle grades science students to learn scientific inquiry and 21st century skills (http://muve.gse.harvard.edu/muvees2003/index.html). The idea of the game is that students would travel back in time to the 19th century, with their 21st century skills and technology, to problem solve many health related issues that societies faced during that century. A kind of detective game, students would find clues that would hint at causes of illnesses, form and test hypotheses, develop experiments to test their hypotheses, and make recommendations based on that data (http://muve.gse.harvard.edu/muvees2003/index.html).
The great thing about such games is that students can go home and complete certain missions and then report back to school on what they learned. In addition to this video games can be used in-class to further enhance a lecture. With the interface of such educational games being so simple, both teacher and student would be able to quickly navigate through the medium and therefore the learning curve that exists with most video games used on the XBOX 360 or PS3 game consoles would virtually be non-existent. The availability of such educational based video games is becoming a lucrative business, which for instructors means a wide variety of games for a multitude of topics be it math, social studies, science, foreign language etc.
Below is a list of other educational video games:
Fun School Games
In future posts we will look at techniques for instructors on how to best incorporate video games within the classroom and as take home homework.