Studies on gaming’s effects on the brain could shed new light on educational gaming and how today’s students learn

gaming-brain-educationAs video games continue to permeate our culture, students are increasingly interested in using video games for learning. This interest has prompted universities and neurologists to explore what the popularity of gaming and how gaming as a whole affects the brain, as well as how today’s student learn.

According to a paper by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), games, when developed correctly and used appropriately, can engage players in learning that is specifically applicable to curriculum—and educators can leverage the learning in these games without disrupting the worlds of either “play” or school.

Moving Learning Games Forward: Obstacles, Opportunities, and Openness,”  by Eric Klopfer, Scot Osterweil, and Katie Salen of the Education Arcade, an MIT research division that explores games that promote learning through play, explains why educational games have seen an increase in popularity: mainly owing to the advances in consumer games.

For example, commercial games have not only exposed new audiences to gaming but have expanded the range of education games, growing the conceptual areas they can reach.

The report credits new gaming platforms and a “sinking edutainment ship” as factors that have led to an increased education interest in gaming.

A report from the Joan Ganz Cooney Center, “Game Changer: Investing in digital play to advance children’s learning and health,” claims that on an average day, children as young as eight spend as many hours engaged in media activity as they spend in school. Seventy-five percent of American children play computer and video games, it says.

The report, said Michael Levine, executive director of the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop, aims to help answer the question: “Can digital games, especially well-designed education games, help reshape our nation’s approach to learning and growing?”

“[We] believe that the demonstrated potential of digital media wisely guided by adults could become a ‘game changer’ in advancing children’s prospects in the decade ahead,” said Levine.

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