Parents and educators who are on the lookout for new and innovative tech that can help children and students learn will definitely approve of recent advancements in the gaming industry. Some of the latest research shows promising developments in harnessing the popular, fun and interactive format of video games to assist with education.
New research shows that certain types of video games can improve reading skills in children with learning disabilities, and just weeks ago, a new Amplify tablet was announced to be designed specifically for an educational/classroom setting. And in college, video games are not only the becoming basis for various curriculum, but can also be instrumental for student-to-student and student-to-educator interaction.
A new study from Italian researchers published in Current Biology shows that playing video games can help improve the reading abilities of dyslexics. The study observed two groups of 10 dyslexic children; one group played action-oriented video games while the other played video games of a non-action variety. Reading speed and error rates were similar in the two groups at the beginning of the study. However, at the end of the nine sessions, those who played action video games performed much better in reaction time and speed, and accuracy of reading than their peers who did played non-action video games.
Additionally, the study noted that the children in the action game group scored higher on attention tests. Researchers theorized that the improved attention abilities might account for the better reading scores.
News Corp Releases Tablet Dedicated to Education
In December Joel Klein, CEO of Amplify and former New York City school chancellor, unveiled the company’s new open-source 10-inch tablet at a presentation at SXSWedu. The Amplify tablet is not available to consumers, as it is designed specifically for K-12 classrooms to aid in teaching and learning. This device enables teachers to add depth and interactivity to the learning experience.
The device’s main feature allows teachers to control student activity on the tablets in the classroom; outside of class, students are able to use the devices like a normal tablet. However, during class, teachers can use the tablets to take roll, give quizzes and tests, plan lessons and direct students to supplemental material on the Internet.
Using Amplify’s classroom management software, teachers are able to determine how wide a reach they want with the tablet—they can either communicate with the entire class at once, or focus on an individual or smaller group of students. Students will not be able to surf the web while in class.
Currently, the pre-loaded content on the device seems to be content from Encyclopedia Britannica, Merriam-Webster, Google Apps and a few other digital content producers. However, there is an app store that teachers and students are able to access and download additional educational tools and programs.
Video Games as College Curriculum
Video game usage is not only limited to the elementary school setting, however. An English professor at Rice University has planned a 2013 spring semester course “Scandinavian Fantasy Worlds: Old Norse Sagas,” which will use the extremely popular video game “The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim,” to teach about ancient Nordic fantasies as seen through a Victorian lens.
Dr. Donna Beth Ellard plans on using the video game to support traditional aspects of the class. The interactive element is way for students to absorb what they read and analyze in the Victorian versions of the Nordic sagas. Students will also discuss the politics of “Skyrim” and compare it to America today, and explore Scandinavian influences on American Culture.
An increase in interest in using video games as an educational tool has lead to widespread investigation into gaming and how it can benefit learning. In the UK, the gaming industry is hosting a series of workshops, hoping merge arts and culture with video games, while sparking creativity and artistic innovation through video games. Some colleges in the U.S. have created an online reality where students can hold study sessions and interact with teachers, or explore experiences that would otherwise be denied to them due to geographical constraints.
A powerful tool for learning, gaming appears to improve attention and focus, key traits needed in a student. The interactive element may also help commit to memory and develop a greater understanding of material. As educators and innovators continue to explore gaming and education, exciting new developments are sure to appear.
Marcela De Vivo is a freelance writer and online marketing professional in Los Angeles who also works with HostPapa. Her writing focuses on social media marketing, web hosting and web analytics. She also has three children of her own that love to play video games, which can now actually really benefit them with the new developments in gaming and education.