President Obama: Make Educational Software as Compelling as Video Games

March 9, 2011 -

TechBoston Academy garnered nation attentional this week when the President of the United States made a stop at the small Dorchester, Massachusetts school to give a 20 minute speech on technology and education. The school serves 800 students in grades 6 - 12 from a neighborhood known for crime, poverty and violence.

The point of the president's visit was to highlight TechBoston Academy's accomplishments and to say good schools can thrive in tough neighborhoods.

"Students here come from some tough neighborhoods, am I right? Yet the graduation rate is some 20 points higher than the rest of the city. Twenty points higher," President Obama said.

The President continued talking about investing in education that uses technology that can capture the imaginations of students:

"I’m calling for investments in educational technology that will help create digital tutors that are as effective as personal tutors, educational software as compelling as the best video game," the president continued.

"I wanted to come to TechBoston so the rest of America can see how it’s done. You guys are a model for what’s happening all across the country," he added.

TechBoston is a pilot school within the school district, which means that its administrators have a lot more leeway to change the curriculum or lengthen the school day if they want. The school also has some financial support from foundations and companies such as the Gates Foundation. The Gate Foundation is the reason that the school has such a high level of technology.

The president proposes a $90 million competitive grant program to find new technologies that can improve education. He is also suggesting more federal funds for education and shared responsibility with the private sector.

Source: WBUR, image source


Comments

Re: President Obama: Make Educational Software as ...

There's a reason why educational games are not as compelling as mainstream games: They try to force the education aspect on the player. Every edutainment title is guilty of this in some fashion though at least in the cases of the early Carmen Sandiego games and Oregon Trail it was more subtle, probably because they were designed to be educational titles from the start.

Developers need to realize that anything shoehorned into a game last minute is going to stick out in some form and is going to turn people off. What they need to do to make edutainment titles more engrossing is start off with the area they want the student to learn with (math, science, language, history, etc) and build the game around that. That's how it was done with the earlier edutainment titles, when developers actually gave a damn about the game's results and not just viewing them as a scholastic cash grab.

Re: President Obama: Make Educational Software as ...

Not to mention make the reward feel, rewarding.

A rocket launching because you solved a math problem correctly, a robot completing it's task because the colored lights were match up correctly, a ship sailing after yo uanswer a history question right, make the rewards feel good.

Re: President Obama: Make Educational Software as ...

There are plenty of video games that are educational software, even excluding the ones not intended to be so.  
 

Pwnage of Empires Xbox 360 Indie RTS

Re: President Obama: Make Educational Software as ...

I'd love for educational games to be used to offer parents a way to supplement what their children are learning at school.  Kid goes to school and learns it the old-fashioned way and then comes home and the same material is reinforced through a fun game.  But games should not replace a proper education.

The downside is that there aren't a lot of good educational games these days.  And I'm pretty sure it stems from the notion that good games equates to 3D.  But all the fun educational games were back in the "boring" 2D days!  Someone recently pointed out to me that 2D is just a special case of 3D.

- Left4Dead

Why are zombies always eating brains? I want to see zombies that eat toes for a living. Undead-related pun intended.

- Left4Dead Why are zombies always eating brains? I want to see zombies that eat toes for a living. Undead-related pun intended.

Re: President Obama: Make Educational Software as ...

With some subjects it isn't really possible, but educational games can be a very valuable learning tool if the subject matter is integrated properly in the gameplay. As a kid, I played some "educational" games where the subject matter was just inserted in a contrived way, e.g. cut down a regular game and put a quiz at the end of the level, which makes for both an awful game and a useless educational tool.

Re: President Obama: Make Educational Software as ...

Forget educational software as compelling as video games, I want healthy food that's as tasty as junk food.

 

Andrew Eisen

Re: President Obama: Make Educational Software as ...

I'm under the impression that most healthy foods ARE tastier then junkfood.

Only junkfood is more addictive.

And HELL YES to better educational games. I think that Extra Credits had a idea how to do that.

Here it is:

http://www.youtube.com/user/kirithem#p/u/10/rN0qRKjfX3s

Re: President Obama: Make Educational Software as ...

You're under the impression or of the opinion?

 

Andrew Eisen

Re: President Obama: Make Educational Software as ...

Freddy the Fish, The Oregon Trail, Math Blasters and other educational games say hello. :P

 

Re: President Obama: Make Educational Software as ...

One of the adjunct faculty at my work was the CEO of Mecc up until 1986.  He oversaw the dev teams that made oregon trail, lemonade stand, number munchers, basically every Apple II game out there.  Those guys did edutainment right.

On a slightly different tanget better deserving on another comment, There was a news article about a high school that used game development as a starting point for its curriculum.  Students were learning physics, calculus, photoshop, 3d rendering, and spacial geometry.  The thing that got the students motivated was the connection to the supposedly boring stuff that was being taught in the schools.  Kids were actually excited about vector calculus!  Go figure.

Anyways, I'd be more inclined to say that speaking the "language" of the students is a far better way to get kids interested in school related topics.  When I'm not working on Saturday mornings, I'm usually at this gaming store teaching kids how to play the pokemon card game.  2 years ago, I played with a 3 1/2 year old who had just learned how to flip a coin.  She didn't even know how to read yet.  Her dad was over her shoulder helping her along.  She was having the time of her life and learning how to add, subtract, and multiply in the process.  That's putting her way ahead of the curve, not to mention she's having fun doing it.  Rather than ban pokemon, I'd say get some teachers to learn the ins and outs, and use it to their advantage.  Say, top performing student gets to play a match against the teacher.  Students get to watch.  You know that the class is gonna hit the books like crazy to get the top score.

 

That's enough ranting from me, let the flaming debate begin...

Re: President Obama: Make Educational Software as ...

 I remember playing Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego as a little kid. As well as Math blaster and Oregon Trail

Re: President Obama: Make Educational Software as ...

The problem being not nearly enough of them even try to be as compelling as those do.

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