Thursday, February 17, 2011

Video Games as a Stealth Learning Tool

My PhD research is all about using augmented reality in games designed to teach you something.  I think educational games has had a bit of a bad rap for a while, and maybe this is for good reason.  There so seem to be memories among many students of basic skill and drill activities thinly disguised as games.

But game designers are getting better at making their players smarter.  For example, there's been a lot of cool research happening in the area, and we seem to know a lot more about how to create a compelling experience that teaches you something at the same time.  (Take a look at this article I wrote on my own blog about educational games.)

Even better, more and more research is coming out that games is actually a really effective way to learn. There's a recent article in Psych Central News that says this:
To kids, such games would remain a pleasant diversion. But to Mom and Dad, they would provide reassurance that their child is acquiring the knowledge and skills needed to excel in an increasingly competitive world.  “The concept is known as ‘stealth assessment,’” said Shute, a professor of instructional systems. “Essentially what we try to do is disguise educational content in such a way that kids aren’t even aware that they’re being assessed while they’re engrossed in game play.”
I say it's never been a better time to be in this field, and if you're in computer science or anything related, then maybe it's the right time for you to join us and study educational games in graduate school. ;)