Last week Microsoft announced a large investment in research into educational games. There have been a lot of educational games over the years. Some of them I think have been educational in theory more than in practice. Others more accidentally educational than anything else. But what does make a game effective as an educational tool? Does the brain work differently while playing games? I have known ADD and ADHD kids who could not sit still for a few minutes in a regular class who can sit and play video games for hours at a time. What’s going on? Well the fact is that we don’t know very much about the effectiveness of educational games. We don’t know what makes a good educational game. We don’t know how they work or how they can be made to work better.
The Games for Learning Institute is an attempt to do some serious research on these questions.
The Games for Learning Institute (G4LI) is a first-of-its-kind, multi-disciplinary, multi-institutional gaming research alliance that will provide the fundamental scientific evidence to support games as learning tools for math and science subjects among middle school students. It is great example of how technology can play a role in changing how students learn and give teachers new tools to create dynamic and effective curriculum.
There are a number of good quotes about what this study/research hopes to accomplish in this article by the Seattle P-I. One of the things I am hoping for is that a framework of ideas will come out of it that will allow more people to make more effective games to reach more students who don’t do well in traditional classrooms.