Learning opportunities seen in video gaming

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Educational innovations are emerging from all sorts of places — including the much-maligned world of video games.

Take Minecraft, a create-your-own-world game that’s so popular it has sold more than 12 million copies after just a year in circulation. Played on PCs, smartphones and Xbox devices, it is already the subject of its own fan convention, Minecon 2012, which just took place in Paris.

In Minecraft, players use Lego-looking blocks to build anything they can imagine, often to survive obstacles in a sometimes-hostile environment.  And some adventurous teachers are using it to teach principles of physics.

As Gamespot.com’s Mark Walton writes:

There’s no question that Minecraft’s physics system bears little resemblance to reality. And yet, students are learning via that very idiosyncrasy. Why is it unrealistic for blocks float in mid air? Why would your character not really be able to chop through solid rock in seconds? And why can’t you swim up a vertical shaft of water? As video game teaching advocate Stephen Reid put it, “teachers can look at the tools and encourage learning from them regardless.”

Teachers are also using the game to teach English, geography and the principles of electronics, Reid told a Minecon audience.

Reid pointed to the millions of Minecraft tutorial videos uploaded to YouTube, many of which have been created by children. “Self learning is more powerful than listening to what any teacher has to say,” he quipped.

The comments section below Walton’s article features a bunch of testimonials from young people who attest to the educational value of their hours spent on video games. Although, there is this dissent from “Sinistery”:

When you teach children to play video games such as these you are sacrificing months from their adolescence in return for a few moments of pale feeling of accomplishment from building something that does not exist.

What’s your opinion?

 

(Image from Gamespot.com)

 

 

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