Gaming is moving out of the entertainment domain and into other areas, said Jim Brazell, president of ventureRAMP.com.
"We now have serious games. There are applications of video games to domains other than entertainment," he said Jan. 22 at an "eye opening" keynote — so named for its start time 28 minutes after sunrise — during the Florida Education Technology Conference. "Video games do not belong pigeon holed in entertainment."
Games have crossed into serious domains such as health care and military training and have begun to give birth to new models of playing, learning, and socializing, he said.
"You can get more data in a video game than in any other education area," Brazell said, adding that gaming allows for the convergence of physical, virtual, and imaginary realities.
Video games have been used for things as diverse as emergency-response training and language acquisition. The utility of gaming derives from the fact that mammals learn best through play, according to Brazell.
"[Students] don’t know that the learning is embedded. That’s the thing about play, the learning is embedded," he said.
Of the more than 75 attendees in the keynote session, almost all of the educators said they were either definitely interested in using gaming in the classroom or might be interested in using gaming. Brazell said that educators should start by determining what it is they hope to convey.
"Never start with the idea that you’re going to use a video game [as a teaching tool]. Decide what you want to teach and then find the right application," he said.
But Brazell stressed the fact that games should not attempt to replace the classroom or classroom teachers.
"We’re talking about blended learning," he said.
Brazell is a consultant and researcher focusing on 21st century issues, including education innovation, emerging technology, and jobs. His current projects include using robots in mathematics courses and applying video games to career simulation in K-12.
(Editor’s note: Watch for still more real-time coverage of this year’s FETC at FETC Conference Information Center page)