US Dept of Education Says Video Games a Powerful Learning Tool


The US Department of Education has begun to recognize video gaming’s appeal to young learners and is looking into ways video games can facilitate learning.

The Games for Learning Summit in New York later this month which will bring together game developers, students and teachers is hoped to offer valuable insights as to how video gaming can be implemented in learning.

The Dept. of Education considers video gaming “an opportunity; a chance to reinvent education in a way that makes it more relevant to today’s student.” Bryan Crecente of says.

“If you look at the life of a student … a lot of students play on average about 10,000 hours of video games by the time they are graduating high school. That is almost the same amount they are spending in schools,” Erik Martin, Games for Learning lead at the Department of Education says.

The Dept. of Education has planned the Games for Learning summit in New York in late April in which educators, students, gaming developers and educational experts will come together. Organizers hope that the Summit will yield important progress and ideas on how video games can be brought to the classroom to facilitate learning.

The biggest challenge for the Games for Learning program is to reinvent education with the help of gaming:

“If you can take that experience of getting outside of school and make it feel just as relevant and just as compelling when they’re in school learning stuff and doing stuff and doing something that’s interesting and educational, that’s that bridging we want to sort of provide.” Martin explains.

Among the Summit participants is Ubisoft, a game maker developer of RockSmith and Just Dance, and the well-known Assassin’s Creed. The latter has been enjoying classroom time:

“Over the years we’ve heard of universities across the U.S. using the games to engage students, compare the in-game history with the history they learned in class or simple to show students what these periods of history looking like visually,” Polygon reports.

Richard Culatta, director of educational technology at the U.S. Department of Education, hopes the Summit will be the springboard of a new era in education:

“We’re excited about this event as the start of a much larger conversation about how to bridge two worlds that can be mutually supportive of each other but for so long have been siloed.”

According to Game Rant, this program which is a response to the White House’s ConnectEd initiative is “most definitely a case of ‘if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.’”

Gaming is already being used in the classroom to facilitate learning and to make subjects more compelling. Punahou School teacher Douglas Kiang delivers personalized learning experience to his students just by looking at what they do and like when they play video games, Cameron Pipkin of EdSurge says.

Using the Bartle Test of Gamer Psychology Kiang identifies his students’ most dominant trait. The quiz classifies the user as Socializer, Explorer, Killer or Achiever. Kiang then makes use of this information on how organize his students and his lessons:

“The Bartle Test gives me some insight into what the kids’ motivations are and what they see as success in the classroom,” Kiang says. “Students who are Explorers love to explore and wander, learning everything they can about the game and its world. For them, the fun of the game comes from discovery—and in the classroom, they tend to be the students who love to amass knowledge for its own sake. They also like to demonstrate this knowledge to others,” he explains.