The Escapist reports on a “new” type of education: one that uses games. Now, this isn’t exactly news to me, since my friend runs the STAR Education Program which believes this same thing, and he’s been doing it for awhile. But, I’m glad to see there’s some research backing it up, at least according to Escapist’s post:
The real question, however, is not whether children want arcades in their classrooms. It’s whether these programs improve learning. The good news is they do. The motion-capture rig, for instance, is called a “SMALLab.” A peer-reviewed journal published a study in 2009 found that SMALLab programs that taught chemical titration and geology to high school students caused them to score significantly better on tests than students who received typical earth science instruction. The study also found that the kids interacted more during the lessons, helping each other learn.
I find it tragic that this isn’t immediately obvious. Play is an incredibly powerful learning tool. And when people interact with the thing they are trying to learn, instead of memorizing dry text, they learn better. We’ve been a tactile species of making and doing longer than we’ve had written or even verbal communication. So why do people keep being surprised that when students interact — even in a virtual environment which, gasp, is ever-so-similar to a game — they learn better?