Atari Founder to Create Game to Reduce High School to 1 Year

A complete high school education in one year? That is the goal driving a new project by Atari founder Nolan Bushnell: a cloud-based video game that will reduce the traditional four-year high school experience by three years. Although details are sketchy, Bushnell plans to utilize his experience as a game designer to fix, what he calls, “broken computers and maladjusted teachers.”

Bushnell announced the new project at the latest Cloud Gaming Conference USA, The Escapist Magazine reports.

This project, known as Speed to Learn, incentivizes learning by providing students with interesting payoffs. Good work could earn one a nap or time with a laser cutter, for example. At an education summit in New York, Bushnell described the program as arcade-style videogames combined with aerobic activity for the purpose of education.

Use of cloud computing technology isn’t just incidental to the success of the project. Dvice.com explains that it is a vital part of making sure kids have full access to the system and that the workstations are protected from the common scourges of standalone machines. Issues like viruses, malware, and old software could be easily managed in a cloud, while maintenance cost and system downtime could be reduced. While visiting schools, Bushnell noticed that up to 15% of available terminals were unusable due to various computer problems, a number that he aims to reduce with the new system.

The educational speed gains will come mainly as a result of the unique way of rewarding students for successfully accomplishing their tasks, such as obtaining a solution to a problem in a specified period of time:

“We’ve been in hundreds of classrooms with 40,000 kids. We are currently teaching subjects 10 times faster. We believe that when we roll this up to full curriculum we’ll be able to teach a full career of high school in less than a year. And we think we’ll be able to do that by the end of next year.”

Bushnell has said that he’s been working on Speed to Learn for over ten years, but so far there are no demos or screenshots to examine. However, if he intends to stick to his ambitious launch deadline, those should be appearing in the very near future.