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Improving Education Through Social Gaming 44

A piece up at Mashable explores how some schools and universities are finding success at integrating social gaming into their education curriculum. Various game-related programs are getting assistance these days from sources like the government and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. "For the less well-to-do educator, the Federation of American Scientists has developed a first-person shooter-inspired cellular biology curriculum. Gamers explore the fully-interactive 3D world of an ill patient and assist the immune system in fighting back a bacterial infection. Dr. Melanie Ann Stegman has been evaluating the educational impacts of the game and is optimistic about her preliminary findings. 'The amount of detail about proteins, chemical signals and gene regulation that these 15-year-olds were devouring was amazing. Their questions were insightful. I felt like I was having a discussion with scientist colleagues,' said Stegman. Perhaps more importantly, the video game excites students about science. Motivating more youngsters to adopt a science-related career track has became a major education initiative of the Obama administration. So desperate to find a solution that motivates students to become scientists, the government has even enlisted Darpa, the Department of Defense’s 'mad scientist' research organization, to figure out a solution."
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Improving Education Through Social Gaming

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  • does this mean? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by crazybit ( 918023 ) on Tuesday February 09, 2010 @05:57AM (#31069978)
    Does this mean kids learn better from virtual sim's than from real people? Or that virtual teachers are better than poorly trained teachers?
  • by Bakkster ( 1529253 ) <Bakkster.man @ g m a i l .com> on Tuesday February 09, 2010 @12:05PM (#31072962)

    "The amount of detail about proteins, chemical signals and gene regulation that these 15-year-olds were devouring was amazing."

    I don't recall anything like this in Civ.

    You obviously never read the Civilopedia. With the obvious difference of describing history rather than cellular biology, it had a similar wealth of information that was almost as vital for success. I learned about the Great Library, Colossus at Rhodes, Hanging Gardens, and most other wonders of the ancient world through that game. These are things we never studied in school, and I wouldn't have learned about them unless I happened to watch the right program on the History channel (while they weren't airing shows about UFOs and other bollocks).

    But more importantly, it opens a learning opportunity outside of the game. It provides an incentive and interest in the topic that most kids wouldn't otherwise have. In this instance, it's a depiction of the immune system that takes it from words on a page about immunoglobin and mast cells to an exciting view of the actual processes as they happen. Even if the game doesn't describe a particular process, many students would be interested to pursue the topic afterward. The game doesn't need to be the only vector for learning, it can increase the interest in further learning from textbooks and lectures.

    On a related note, my aunt allows my younger cousin (5th grade) to play Age of Empires, but he must first research and write a short report on the nation he intends to play. Again, he has an incentive to learn beyond his natural curiosity, and as such he probably knows more about ancient culture and history than I do.

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