On the Future of Educational Video Games

Okay. I’ll admit it. There have been a handful of occasions in the last four years or so when I have had the luxury of time to play video games. Maybe two handfuls. And I needed plenty of time because I have a steep learning curve with such games as Call of Duty and Halo: Reach. What can I say? I grew up in a time before video games. Wait. Did I use the word “learning” that close to the words “video games?” Yes, I did.

I have two elementary school-aged boys and one in middle school. Do I have to tell you they love video games? And since you are an audience of teachers, do I have to tell you that they sometimes are required to use online sites such as Study Island for homework? No and no.

So while we debate the impact of violent video games on our culture in the wake of the Newtown tragedy, we must also look at new evidence that suggests video games may offer benefits to our children. From allowing youngsters to free themselves of pent-up aggression to challenging spatial and puzzle-based problem-solving skills, video games may, in fact, be beneficial. Certainly, there’s no shortage of possibilities for how educationally sound video games could become essential tools in the classroom of tomorrow.

So I urge you to step back and think critically about the benefits of video games and gaming technology coming to the classroom. I’m not sold on the idea myself. It goes without saying that the games that end up in the classroom must be dramatically different from Call of Duty. But the 3-D worlds, the complex challenges, and the dramatic narratives all offer an appeal that surely would increase learning in young people drawn in droves to such entertainment today.

Tell me what you think.

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