16 October 2008

Equity: Teen Video Gaming or Science and Math

A recently released Pew study on the internet, teens and gaming explains what we expected: 97% of ‘em play video games or console games. What else? That 99% of boys and 94% of girls are “enthusiastic” players.

When I was a kid a social experience was interacting with people that usually occurred outdoors. Not today, according to that report, for most teens, gaming is a social activity and a major component of their overall social experience.

STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) education in the United States is at an all time low. Everyone agrees on this – even McCain and Obama. The US job segment requiring science and math skills had only 8% of the total number of degrees awarded in 2001. Since 2003 there has been a reduction of 50% in undergraduate enrollments of computer science degrees. This is no guessing game – at this pace in 2010 the vast majority of the world's scientists will anywhere but USA grown.

My take is education must be reformed: 1) curriculum needs to take advantage of what teens like to do, 2) teachers need to put technology in as much of the school day as possible, and 3) education stakeholders must take some bold steps – NOW – to curb these trends. How?

National curriculum standards that mandate technology use.
Incorporate technology training for teachers to bolster their skill level to and support using technology methods in K-12 classes. For example, we know students play and enjoy video games so move that forward by requiring a portion of the daily lesson include using a video game. Using what students like to do already as a teaching tool. Video games are essentially a problem solving garden. Every scenario the player is given requires critical thinking to find the solution.

Obligate sufficient assets to supplement existing curriculum resources.
The BBC recently reported that using computer games daily helped boost math scores in Scottish schools. K-12 teachers must provide students with meaningful and frequent learning opportunities using technology. I have read all the studies that say teachers have the computers they need and that just ain’t so. As a former high school teacher, I can tell you that there are not enough computers to go around in the schools. Many times the computers don’t work. Students interested in learning are being cheated because they don’t have the technology tools necessary to challenge them – that’s a crying shame to the USA.

Weave every subject into video games.
The Pew report also state that little evidence exists of concerns that gaming promotes behaviors or attitudes that undermine civic behaviors. With that objection out of the way, gaming can be used for all the core content subjects. Other studies have shown that student collaboration, working together on a project, is a positive influence on learning. That, as an educator, I know to be true.

Hey, I’m not a technology freak. No, I completely enjoy the outdoors and nature. People, we have to get real about the future of our leaders. To have scientists, engineers, and world leaders for tomorrow we need to start NOW.

Here are three of my top learning from playing resources:

1. Games in Multimedia
Many of these are online and some can be downloaded. The majority of online entries are free and cover multiple subjects.

2 Whyville
A Web-based virtual world that provides inquiry-based education for middle school students. Created by University of Texas professor Jim Bower -- a former professor at the California Institute of Technology and founder of CalTech's Pre-College Science Initiative.

3 WISE – Web Based Science Inquiry Environment
Funded by NSF this site offers a host of case studies where students perform sequenced tasks to research, analyze, and arrive at conclusions.

Say it - report cards: teachers, students, and parents

Remember nature? Southwest glory is here.

Teachers for Green Schools

Green School News

Education Gaming News

Facebook: Collaborate With K-12 Educators

Secret Of Engaging Students



Anonymous said...

This is a "dream post"to me, filled with the sort of riches I really need and crave right now. I bet others think the same. Thank you, thank you for these thoughts and references. The "learning from playing" list is superb, vastly beneficial. I have a lot of people--of all ages--to share it with, will be sending links to your blog.
One more example of how networking is great... all this interactive professional learning: connections, resources, thoughts, connections, resources, thoughts. So cool.

michaeledlavitch said...

Have you tried the online Math Games at Hooda Math yet?