Friday, July 10, 2009

Game Changer

Can digital games, especially well-designed educational games, help reshape our nation’s approach to learning and growing? This question was addressed in a new report by the Joan Ganz Cooney's Center at the Sesame Workshop. The report titled: "Game Changer:Investing in Digital Play to Advance Children’s Learning and Health" specifies how increased national investment in research-based digital games might play a cost-effective and transformative role. It provides recommendations for the media industry, government, philanthropy, and academia to harness the appeal of digital games to improve children’s health and learning.

Digital media have dramatically transformed children’s play. From the preschool years on, millions of American children are actively immersed in play within a new, virtual playground.
Research now offers solid evidence that children learn important content, perspectives, and vital “21st-century skills” from playing digital games.

In their recent review of learning and games, Moving Learning Games Forward, Klopfer, Osterweil, and Salen (2009) categorize different types of learning that are possible with games. For example:

  • Content (from rich vocabulary to science to history)
  • Skills (from literacy to math to complex problem-solving)
  • Creation of artifacts (from videos to software code)

  • Systems thinking (how changing one element affects relationships as a whole)

Research has begun to document a number of powerful potential benefits from digital-media play, including positive social growth (more peer interaction around common interests), cognition (greater motivation to read and solve problems), and health (better understanding of the importance of healthy behaviors, improved self-care skills, more self-confidence and drive
to carry out those skills).

Nine areas of learning and behavior change supported by well-designed interactive games:
  1. Motivation to learn

  2. Perception and coordination

  3. Thinking and problem-solving

  4. Knowledge

  5. Skills and behaviors

  6. Self-regulation and therapy

  7. Self concepts

  8. Social relationships

  9. Attitudes and values
The experts they interviewed said that "our conception of the nature of learning itself needs to fundamentally change". What is literacy and learning today? Is it memorizing a lot of facts, or is it having the capability to maneuver your way through data to find answers to questions that come up in your life? There are so many 9-year-olds who have two or three screens in their personal control at home, and yet at school, we expect children to power down their devices and learn.

When parents and teachers were asked to rate digital media’s potential as an educational tool, they said that they viewed the internet, computer programs, and CD-Roms as having more educational potential than other forms of digital media, likely because they require kids to use their reading and writing skills.

The study concludes by saying " digital games are here to stay and offer the country a rare opportunity to leverage children’s already established enthusiasm in order to reform education and promote healthy development. We know enough about digital games and how they work to recognize their promise. Now we need to invest time and resources to turn this promise into a real “game changer” for America’s children."

At Neuropath Learning we go one step further in providing online computer games for children that foster their critical thinking skills and reinforce important concepts they encounter in the classroom and in the real world. Our interactive learning tools help develop cognitive abilities and executive funtion that is required for success. For more information on our programs, visit our website at

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