Video games for Learning: A K-12 Innovation

Education Week featured a commentary written by Michael Levine, executive director of the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop, and Alan Gershenfeld, co-founder and president of E-Line Media, on video games for learning.  Like the authors, I see great potential in game-based learning.  If video games are designed well – that is, they draw upon learning theories and design and usability principles – they can offer a personalized, challenging, and interesting experience for a learner.  The authors highlight that video games can leverage many instructional frameworks such as project or problem-based learning and collaborative learning, based on a student’s or a group’s proficiencies.  And, of course, by design, video games challenge learners to think critically and problem-solve, requiring that learners use immediate feedback to make decisions throughout the game experience.

The authors also point out the gap that exists between the “ideals” of video games for learning and the “realities”.  In other words, “if video games are so great for learning, why aren’t we using them more?”  The authors state that the challenge has been scaling up games from research trials to the mainstream and the need for strong private-public partnerships.  I will add that video games, good video games, are expensive and time-consuming to design and develop.  Up until recently the buy-in from educators (“the demand”) hasn’t been strong enough to push production (“the supply”).  However, the tides are certainly changing which is why we will continue to follow game-based learning… more to come.  To read the commentary, click here.

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