Math Video Games Get a Boost

A new generation of video game designers has set out to transfer the determination kids show when killing mutants or stealing cars to the more wholesome pursuit of learning algebra.

Historically, school officials have been slow to take seriously something that is more often seen as a distraction, rather than a help. But that is starting to change.

I wrote an article earlier this month about the shifting attitudes about educational gaming.

Advocates argue that games teach vital skills overlooked in the age of high-stakes tests, such as teamwork, decision-making and digital literacy. And they admire the way good games challenge players just enough to keep them engaged and pushing to reach the next level.

"There is a revolution in the understanding of the educational community that video games have a lot of what we need," said Jan Plass, co-director of the Games for Learning Institute, based at New York University and funded by Microsoft to research how video games can help learning.

This week, educational games got a huge boost. Textbook giant Pearson is announcing a partnership with a little known educational video game provider called Tabula Digita. The company has designed a suite of math games, known as Dimension M, including one where students try to stop a biodigital virus from taking over the world while learning about functions and solving equations.

Pearson is going to make a version of the game available to all of its customers, essentially millions of students.

Your thoughts? Is this a promising educational trend or a blip on the screen?

By Michael Alison Chandler  |  January 22, 2009; 9:26 AM ET  | Category:  Technology
Previous: Is Chemistry the New Algebra? | Next: Friday Quiz, Take 7

Comments



This is not a bad development, but I think board games and card games can be even more effective and fun. I recall playing Challenge 24 in elementary school, which was fun and sharpened my basic math skills.

Posted by: DCMathTutor | January 22, 2009 11:35 AM | Report abuse

MathBlaster! An oldie and a goodie

Posted by: dminos | January 22, 2009 1:33 PM | Report abuse

Dminos is right - this is certainly not new. The Apple IIGS's in my elementary school classrooms ran math games, spelling games, Jeopardy, Carmen Sandiego, Oregon Trail, etc. That was 20 years ago (I'm starting to feel old). They may be getting more complex graphically, just like non-educational games, but I'd be surprised if they're otherwise radically different.

I'm finding a lot of depth in this paragraph: Advocates argue that games teach vital skills overlooked in the age of high-stakes tests, such as teamwork, decision-making and digital literacy. And they admire the way good games challenge players just enough to keep them engaged and pushing to reach the next level.

This says says to me, among other things, that competition is a good way to reenforce lessons.

Then, I note that if you take out "digital literacy", you have just plain old games. Note, "video games" weren't even specified. So another thing that it says is, don't abandon tried and true techniques just to put a few more dollars into the educational game makers' pockets. (Ditto for textbooks!) Reading the next paragraph, a quote from the Games for Learning Institute, funded by Microsoft, gives me a little smile.

Posted by: tomsing | January 22, 2009 3:31 PM | Report abuse

Have you checked out Thinkport's "Lure of the Labyrinth?" True math gaming.

http://labyrinth.thinkport.org

Posted by: globalworld | January 23, 2009 11:38 AM | Report abuse

Although there have been computerized educational games around for a while, I still think that utilizing the skills and creative technological strategies that are used in current video games is a brilliant way of appealing to the interest of students today. With the shift in technology culture and with all students being tech savy this is the idea way of tapping into the learning styles of students, especially those that find certain subject matter complicated to grasp, such as algebra II, geometry, chemistry, physic, etc.

Posted by: fanniebrown | January 23, 2009 3:18 PM | Report abuse

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