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Educational Games Don’t Have to Stink!

Nice article on the misconceptions that link gameplay to teaching:

My heretical view is simply this: computer games don't teach. I think the idea that you can teach using computer games is based on a flawed analogy between gameplay and learning. Here's how the analogy goes. Players of games have to overcome obstacles in order to achieve victory. They do this by learning the weaknesses, or limitations, of the opponents they face. Similarly, students learn knowledge in order to pass tests. So learning a fact is equivalent to defeating an enemy, and passing a test is equivalent to achieving victory. And a great many educational games are created this way. This is a terrible way of learning! Why? Because in playing a game, the instant an enemy is dead, we forget him. We are only concerned with him for as long as it takes to beat him.

In short, it's my belief that games don't teach, they illustrate. That's an important distinction. Games are not useless in the educational process, but they're not good at teaching per se. Games are good at creating understanding of knowledge the student already has. And they're excellent at transforming abstract ideas into concrete experience. Games don't teach, but they can help people learn.

Read the article for a list of suggestions for using games as teaching tools. [Caution: Irritating 'free' registration process awaits, if you are not a member already]. You can find more on gaming and learning here.

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