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Video Games in The Classroom Case Studies 30

JavaTHut writes "Numerous ideas have emerged lately for how video games might be integrated into the classroom and why they are well suited to learning. Still, many challenges remain as most educators are skeptical of their value, previous failures at 'edutainment' have made the industry weary of such a market and a renewed focus on standardized testing has made it difficult to introduce new curriculum. In an effort to identify what possibilities exist for video games in education, MIT recently hosted a conference [video recording torrents available] bringing together teachers, game designers, industry execs, policy makers and academics - with case studies of classroom uses of Civilization, Neverwinter Nights, The Sims 2 and others."
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Video Games in The Classroom Case Studies

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  • Oregon Trail (Score:3, Insightful)

    by QuantumRiff ( 120817 ) on Monday August 15, 2005 @01:43PM (#13322730)
    What ever happened to the Oregon Trail? that was the best Apple IIe game I ever played. It was a blast. I would love to get my hands on an updated version with better graphics, but same gameplay! (and of course, the good old "where in the world is carmen sandiego")
    • You just need to look in the obvious place for it.

      The Major League Baseball..uh..arcade [].

      Also available from Amazon and the Learning Company's site, but the MLB (???) site had screenshots.

    • I recall that when our school got computers, we had Oregon Trail, Carmen Sandiego and Number Munchers (somehow a copy of Dune 2 also made its way on the machines).

      Oregon Trail was cool - because of it I know of places like Fort Walla Walla and whatnot, but the majority of time in the lab was either hunting or how fast can I kill my people (3 days - Cholera)...

      Carmen Sandiego - I was too lazy to look up answers and would simply guess or get bored.

      But Number Munchers... that game taught mathematics better tha
    • Yes, there was nothing more satisfying than killing those squirels real dead with 2x2 pixel bullets ([spacebar][spacebar][spacebar][spacebar] [spacebar][spacebar][spacebar][spacebar][spacebar] [spacebar][spacebar][spacebar]. Oh sorry, forgive my reminicing. Anyhow, that raft trip down the river at the end was exilerating, wasn't it?
    • For those younglings who never played this educational game before or for those old farts (like me!) who want to replay it, you can play the game [] through Virtual Apple [] (requires Internet Explorer due to ActiveX controls). Everything, even the annoying loud beeps and music) seems accurate that I can remember from my childhood. :)
    • That game taught me only two things: 1) Squirrels are damn hard to shoot. 2) Rivers are a bitch.
  • If Jack Thompson has his way Sims 2 won't be in any classroom or any stores any time soon. Of course, this could be used as ammunition against Jack's case.
  • Yeah...right (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Unsus ( 901072 )
    I definitely think that games can be used as a valuable asset in the classroom, but Civilization, Neverwinter Nights, and The Sims 2? While I do believe that those games will stimulate your mind (unlike a TV where you are a passive observer), it is quite clear that they can be played at home without having to force it upon the kids. Classroom time can be used more valuably for things that kids do not want to learn -- like math and history. Besides, the last thing I want is to be jealous of my kids playing
    • I agree 100%. Not all children like or are adept at playing video games. Integrating them as part of a carriculum, even if well intentioned, could back fire. Not everybody can grasp video games so this could alienate children even more from a subject they do not like. Further more, video games are GAMES. Even educational games are more fun to play the 'game' portion of it rather than the 'learning portion'. Most of the games I recall playing (math blaster, number muncher, etc) had fun gameplay elements that
    • >but Civilization, Neverwinter Nights, and The Sims
      >2? ...
      >Classroom time can be used more valuably for things >that kids do not want to learn -- like math and >history.

      If you watch TFV's in TFA, Neverwinter Nights is used to teach history. (as you can guess with Civilization)
    • I agree. I would have thought games like Lemonaide Stand and some of the tycoon games would be much more educational than The Sims and NWN.
    • Civilization would teach about the levels of technological inovations, resource management, tactics when warfare is unavoidable, and how countries sometimes take differing routes to achieve their various goals.

      Neverwinter Nights would teach about how you need to have planning, teamwork, tactics, problem solving skills, and goal setting to progress in the world while achiving your goals.

      Though I not sure about Sims2 since I haven't played it myself, except perhaps maybe make people start rethinking religion?
  • The MIT folks were doing this in 1981 and earlier. See AITR-619.pdf []
  • SimCity (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Reo Strong ( 661900 )
    My High School had a few copies of SimCity 3000 (or some such version). We were required to play for our government and economics class.

    For world history, we were expected to play Risk (both the board and computer versions were available, until someone figured out how to cheat on the PC).

    I also had a teacher who was a huge chess-hound. He let pretty much anyone play chess while he was 'guarding' the study hall or even PE if you wished.
    • It's a shame more schools aren't picking that idea up yet. I probably would have been awake in economics if I could have done something like that. They could teach a lot about World War II from Call of Duty or Medal of Honor. Also, Civilization/Sim City would work well for Government/Economics courses.
  • But then, I study Computer games Programming. Nothing like a few hours of research by player some BF2 or UT2K4.

    but on a different note, a couple of staff made some Education Games for a project. Pretty cool.
  • I read that book about how the "video game" generation approached new problems in a more effective and efficient way. So it doesn't surprise me that educators are having difficulties with this. Some people just don't get it.

    But, I think that this sort of research will always be taken with a grain of salt. It is hard for some people to find value in any controversial study... if you want to call this controversial.
  • Lemonade Stand (Score:3, Interesting)

    by centauri ( 217890 ) on Monday August 15, 2005 @02:30PM (#13323188) Homepage
    Everything I know about economics I learned from playing Lemonade Stand. Everything I know about lemonade, too.
    • Re:Lemonade Stand (Score:3, Interesting)

      by DingerX ( 847589 )
      Yeah, that was the problem growing up in California. Never did figure out what dewpoint was, other than when it was high, it was time to jack the prices through the roof.

      Anyway, I'm of two minds. Games can be useful, but teachers are lazy, so they'll probably use them like videos (aka, "Excuse me while I wheel in the Visiting Professor"). If one gets beyond using games to teach students about reality, and uses them as example descriptions of reality, then they can be useful. But, then again, you'd probably
  • Sure, it is not a game. You could make games like by setting a limit on how many commands can be set to make specific images or make the turtle reach the destination.
  • There are plenty of games that are educational! For example, you could play a game I made in Perl a while back called Multiplication Challenge []. It is an arithmetic game which quizes you in math.

    In general, most young children learn a lot better when they are doing interactive work, not just listening or watching, especially if there is a goal they are trying to achieve (best score, etc.)

  • I've learned more about geography and history from Europa Universalis II [] than maybe anywhere else. The user community tends to be well-read and informed; inspires me to go out and find out more about the Timurid Empire or early Tsarist Russia.

Research is what I'm doing when I don't know what I'm doing. -- Wernher von Braun