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Walter Radtke

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Can computer games be designed to deliver education in an effective manner?

With high school drop outs becoming a national epidemic and kids terminally bored with education in its present delivery format, could a series of educational games be devised to get kids from pre-school to high school graduation? I'm talking of games so compelling and interesting, yet gradient in skill levels, that ALL schooling will become home schooling and the costs of running brick and mortar school districts would disappear into the dust bin of history. The money saved by municipalities could be used to supply every child of age 3 with his own gamer system. My feeling is that incredible skill sets could be taught in short order, including cognitive skills that could rival autistic savant levels. It is becoming more clearly evident that we either get smarter faster or we welcome back the 12th century.

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    Jan 18 2012: There are many great games which can be employed for virtually any aspect of education. As an example, I will briefly discuss language skills. Since education is such a broad topic, I hope this will suffice, but will be happy to answer any other questions you have, provided the question as posed relates to a specific aspect or educational topic. As it is, I barely know where to begin, other than to reply with an emphatic YES.

    Primary Language Skills: In the game environment, basic language skills are learned via text and in-game communication. The impetus here is to ensure that the text is relevant to the gaming experience; to ensure that the game text employs proper spelling, punctuation, and grammar; and to ensure that a reward/punishment system exists for in-game communication. Players who chat using proper language skills get bonus currency, for example. Players who use improper shorthand (u no, txt n stf lk dat) get penalized.

    Secondary Language Skills. The same as primary language skills (with a less severe punishment for improper grammar/spelling), but in addition provides a venue for international communication. When I took Russian in high school, it was great, but I ultimately didn't have anybody outside of class with whom to speak on a regular basis. If I had had access to something like [http://www.heroeswm.ru] (for example), I would have had a place to employ what I was learning.

    Computer Language Skills. In addition to teaching spoken language, games may be used to teach many different aspects of computer programming, from html to scripting to logic. Given that the GDP of the video game industry is in excess of (US) $5.0 billion (and growing), this may be an important skill for many students to learn.

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