From bringing digital textbooks to the classroom to requiring keyboard skills in lieu of cursive writing, schools are taking teaching in the digital era to a new level. Now, U.K. Education Secretary Michael Gove says video games have a place in the classroom, too.
In an address to the Royal Society in London last week, Gove cites games developed by Marcus Du Sautoy, a math professor at Oxford University, that allow students to actively engage in math and science, according to Edge.
"When children need to solve equations in order to get more ammo to shoot the aliens, it is amazing how quickly they can lear," [Gove said.] "I am sure that this field of educational games has huge potential for maths and science teaching and I know that Marcus himself has been thinking about how he might be able to create games to introduce advanced concepts, such as non-Euclidean geometry, to children at a much earlier stage than normal in schools."
The U.K. Department of Education is working with Li Ka Shing Foundation in Hong Kong and the Stanford Research Institute in the U.S. to develop educational math computer games.
"We need to change curricula, tests and teaching to keep up with technology," [Gove] said. "These developments are only the beginning...The new environment of teaching schools will be a fertile ecosystem for experimenting and spreading successful ideas rapidly through the system.
But Gove's outlook on technology in education is seeing some criticism. Keith Stuart of The Guardian says that while such a view of video games in teaching is a positive step, educators and policymakers should also look toward allowing children to engage in the process of interactive experiences. From The Guardian:
But the way games work, the way they're structured, the way they teach players their systems, the way they ask players to engage with the virtual world, and the way they allow social interaction, should also be important pedagogical pointers. Games are, after all, among the most complex systems that children are exposed to - just look at the labyrinthine structure of titles like Lego Star Wars, or the masses of information in RPG games, or the social economies at work in Club Penguin and Moshi Monsters.
Some teachers in the U.S. have already implemented these games in their lessons. Angry Birds, a mobile game that was recently launched for the web, let's players launch a bird across digital skies and fields into forts. And John Burk, a physics teacher at Westminster Schools in Atlanta, has combined the computer game with physics to teach his students about projectile motion, according to Kotaku.