I’ve been looking a lot at customization in the 21st century. We see it everywhere. Gladwell did a great talk about how even spaghetti sauces and coffee blends are now customized to our taste (I must do a customization post soon). When I pose the idea of customizing our education, the initial response is that’s impossible unless you have one teacher for every student. Beating my head against a brick wall for a while I came to two very probable solutions: project based learning and gaming.

It seems like schools are trying very hard to get video games out of schools and homes. With the advancements, its going to be that much harder to yank them out of their hands. So I figure, why not use it for good? There are many studies that show the negative impact of gaming but a few things have popped up to show there are positive affects. Sure there are games drenched in violence and vulgarity but we can obviously create games that aren’t. Actually we already have games that do quite the contrary.

A well-designed video games are “natural teachers.” Though a flesh and bone teacher can never EVER be replaced, gaming can be of aid to them and the student in its ability to meet the player at their exact level. From reading the DANA article I learned how video games can “train players in a way that helps them transfer knowledge or skills to the real world.” They give a wonderful example of doctors who played a game to hone in their surgical practice. They found “the surgeons’ amount of game time was a better predictor of advanced surgical skill in the training drills than their number of years in practice or number of real-life surgeries performed.” Obviously these are all trained surgeons. Not expecting a person who scores well on a game to be qualified to be a doctor or anything but why not hone in the skill using a game rather than say a corpse?

Here’s another thing I really want to point out.  It is my strong belief we are born with an amazing capacity for empathy. (Read ‘The Philosophical Baby” by Alison Gopnik) You wouldn’t think so given the state of the world but they’ve done studies where from day one we’ve shown to posses this gift which leads me to believe we’re all big pile of mushy love at the end. The DANA findings show  those who habitually play violent, first-person shooter games have increased rACC activity (suggesting emotional responses) during violent episodes which was interpreted to believe that “while people who are not used to seeing violent images show a strong emotional reaction when confronted with them, those who regularly play violent games do not simply lack an emotional reaction—they actively suppress it, as reflected in their rACC activity.”

Like anything, what you put in, you get out. I have been in communication with James Gee about the concept of gaming and might be able to speak with the leaders of the first gaming school in New York City. Still a lot to learn about the positive and negative implications to gaming. The two clips I have are just for fun, haven’t found a clip that really shows what I’m looking for.

89.3 KUOR conversation on Souther California Public Radio about how playing video games can fix high school drop out rates

DANA report about how the brain is affected by video gaming- for better and for worse

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