3.19.2012

Video games better than teachers, Atari founder preparing to beat education

Pipe smokin' grandaddy and founder of Atari, Nolan Bushnell, says "The public school system with its bureaucracy and unions and bullshit are stuck."

"I want to fix education in the world," Bushnell said, speaking at this week's GamesBeat 2011 conference. "As soon as I work on that, I am going to work on world hunger and then world peace."

Bushnell has attitude for sure, but seriously, with his new startup Speed to Learn, he believes he can help kids learn quicker and better with video game concepts and game metrics, with games featuring adaptive challenges and tailored curricula. He also incorporates the belief that increased heart rate can improve retention and mental capacity.

You can check out his free Spanish learning Wordplay.com, which he says works better than Rosetta Stone.

Atari founder wants to 'fix education in the world'

Evidence Supports Video Games for Education

Educational video games better than teachers. Worst-off children better educated by machines...

Do you sense an unschooling theme here? Active, engaging, cooperative, parent and community participation... The following news bites present an illustration of some educational possibilities that kids might actually appreciate.

Worst-Off Children Better Educated by Machines

Mims's Bits, an MIT Technology Review blog posed the question "Should math education be replaced by video games?" after findings of a study showed a significant difference between a members of a control group who received traditional mathematical instruction and a treatment group who played DimensionM, a video game designed to teach linear algebra.

DimensionM transports kids to a multiplayer, three-dimensional world, giving them the opportunity to compete and cooperate toward challenges which require mathematical skills to accomplish.

The study involved 200 kids in a relatively low-achieving school in the Southeastern U.S. The MIT Technology Review author suggested that "a growing body of educators are already arguing that the world's worst-off children are better off being educated by machines."

Radical New Forms of Education

Perhaps this sentiment illustrates innovation consultant Charles Leadbeater's assertion, given during his TED London Salon talk, that the key to educational innovations is  "Pulling people into education, rather than pushing them into it."

In other words, let's give our kids some learning tools and opportunities they might actually like.

According to The Huffington Post's coverage of TED Talks: "Charles Leadbeater went looking for radical new forms of education, and found them in the slums of Rio and Kibera, where some of the world's poorest kids are finding transformative new ways to learn. And this informal, disruptive new kind of school, he says, is what all schools need to become."

Leadbeater also referenced the Harlem Children's Zone and Big Picture Learning educational initiatives.

ADHD Kids Play Video Games for Hours

On a related note, according to Jonah Rehrer's "The Attention-Allocation Deficit," on Prefrontal Cortex, a Wired blog:
"...recent evidence suggests that people with ADHD have plenty of attention – that’s why they can still play video games for hours, or get lost in their Legos, or devote endless attentional resources to activities that they find interesting."
Sources:

Should Math Education be Replaced by Video Games?Education innovation in the slums

Mansureh, Kebritchi, et al. "The effects of modern mathematics computer games on mathematics achievement and class motivation." Computers & Education, September 2010

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