I recently finished writing an article for the upcoming issue of Education Week’s Digital Directions about the educational impact of Microsoft’s Halo 3. It was probably one of the most interesting stories I’ve written so far, or at least one of the most enjoyable stories to research. Really, it just gave me an excuse to hang out with my Halo-playing friends and grill them about the ins and outs of the game.
I, myself, have never played Halo. In fact, my experience with video games starts and stops with the original PlayStation, which I received for Christmas when I was 12. When we were in elementary school, my parents wouldn’t let me or my sister have video games in the house. I remember trying to come up with research that outlined some of the educational benefits of video games in an attempt to convince them that having a Nintendo would actually help me in school. It didn’t work.
But over the past decade, there has been a major push to channel some of the interest and enthusiasm kids have for video games into the classroom and an explosion of educational video games and computer programs have been designed to do just that. And while many of the video game experts I talked to for my story said video games can’t adequately replace more traditional methods of instruction, at least not yet, linking translatable aspects of activities that kids love doing--like video games, movies, or sports--to school work seems like a great tool to motivate students.
What do you think? Can incorporating video games into lessons help increase student motivation? Or are they simply a distraction from learning? Do video games have educational value, or do they teach kids to expect too much from school?
A version of this news article first appeared in the Motivation Matters blog.