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Teaching Social Thinking Skills with Computer Games

Rubin Osnat, of University of Haifa, Israel writes that;

“Current educational policy in many nations encourage emphases within the school curriculum, particularly important in the second millennium: enhancing thinking as an integral part of the school curriculum, and integrating technology. Future learners should not only acquire a predefined constant knowledge, but higher order thinking abilities, enabling them to intelligently analyze and deal with different situations, solve problems and make decisions. In an age where learning resources are changing, incorporating technology into the curriculum has been found to positively affect the development of higher order thinking skills. Thereof we should examine using technology for teaching (ordering and practicing) thinking to be used in the learners’ everyday lives.
In the current college course program, teachers learned how to use computer games to enhance social thinking skills. Participants were required to develop simple computer games, including analyzing situations (e.g., what skills involve social activities like choosing a friend), and building an algorithm of problem solving to be practiced in a computer game, in which children had to solve social issues. Participants reported fostering thinking skills: thinking about alternatives, considering consequences, comparing and analyzing steps. The program has increased the awareness of teachers to the significant potential of computers for teaching thinking, which can be applied to the learners’ everyday lives.”

President Obama on Gaming and Education

 President Barack Obama's Video Game Buyer's Guide

Christina Farr writes that;

“the senior adviser for digital media at the White House, Mark DeLoura, says Barack Obama has taken a personal interest in games and gaming culture.

“I wouldn’t have this job if he wasn’t interested,” said DeLoura on stage at the GamesBeat 2013 conference.

DeLoura is a veteran gamer who has held senior leadership positions at Google, Sony, Nintendo, and others. He’s been working at the White House for seven months, which he describes as a far more formal environment than Silicon Valley.

“Some people do play games in the White House,” DeLoura told our GamesBeat lead reporter Dean Takahashi. “I’m trying to find those people and collect them, Pokémon-style.”

According to DeLoura, it hasn’t been easy task to recruit austere government officials for a gaming session. But DeLoura is dead-set on getting a group together to play Civilization once a week. “I point out that they are playing Candy Crush,” he said.

Educational gaming

Joking aside, the president is deeply concerned with improving education in our country. Games are an essential part of the conversation and strategy.

“I want you guys to be stuck on a video game that’s teaching you something other than just blowing something up,” Obama said at a press conference in in 2011, a few years before the Department of Education launched a grant for the country’s most talented educational gamers. DeLoura helped write the blog post announcing the initiative.

“He [Obama] wants to see Sasha and Malia playing a game that teaches them something,” DeLoura told me. In a 1-on-1 interview after his GamesBeat talk, he told me that the president’s daughters love to dance and play games that help them stay active — like Just Dance.

In recent months, DeLoura and his team have been researching how game dynamics can be applied to education. Can a game help kids learn new languages, make friends, or pickup technical skills?

DeLoura doesn’t believe that the tech industry has done nearly enough to support educational gaming, with a few exceptions. A few Silicon Valley investment firms focus on educational games, and Bill and Melinda Gates have been making large investments through their foundation.

One of DeLoura’s passion projects is to make it easier for parents and teachers to find great games and apps for kids at any age. He hopes that parents won’t dismiss all games, as a result of a few bad apples. “This is a real problem we need to tackle,” he said.

DeLoura’s favorite educational games?

1. DragonBox, a multiplatform math game.

“It’s awesome. After 90 minutes of play, 93 percent of kids could solve algebraic equations in Washington State.”

2. Reach for the Sun from Filament Games, a plant life-cycle sim.

“This game is new but it teaches kids biology. They can start with a seed and grow leave, roots, and petals.”

3. Minecraft, the indie building game sensation.

“Everyone plays this game. Now there’s a Minecraft teacher who teaches computing concepts. Google launched qCraft, which teaches quantum physics.”

Games that teach kids to code

DeLoura and the Obama administration are currently developing new programs to bolster coding education in schools. Games can certainly play a role — particularly those that teach young people to code.

Schools can adopt these games to support their coding curriculum. DeLoura points to a program in the U.K. called “computing,” which teaches digital skills to kids as young as 5.

In the U.S., he’s encouraged by the recent success of a nonprofit called Code.org, which is working with influencers in the entertainment industry, such as Will.i.am, to make programming seem cool to kids. DeLoura is help the organization promote “Hour of Code,” a campaign to introduce 10 million kids to computer science.”

To read the full article by Christina Farr  click here;

http://venturebeat.com/2013/10/29/the-presidents-gaming-guy-tells-us-that-games-fascinate-obama/