This post was written by a student in the Stanford’s Winter 2011 Networked Rhetoric class; it was designed to focus in on a particular source or research experience related to his project on social media and digital culture . See a more detailed overview of this assignment.
I am currently researching the effectiveness of video games as a learning tool as part of a course on written and oral rhetoric at Stanford University. Over the past two decades, video games have been slowly occupying more and more time in peoples’ lives. As a result, certain observant individuals have made attempts to harness games in to a way for people, and especially children, to learn. Some of these games have failed and some have succeeded. In my research, I plan to explore what it is in video games that makes them such a viable option for educational use.
In my preliminary search for information about my topic, I began by searching close to home. I was pleased to find numerous articles by Keith Devlin, who is a mathematician and the Executive Director of Stanford’s H-Star Institute. The H-Star Institute is a research center made for the exploration of the ways in which technology and people interact and the effects they have on each other. Devlin has written many times about the benefit video games would have if they were used effectively in a classroom. I believe the video below summarizes what he believes very well:
Devlin explains how engrossed people have become with video games recently and he asks a very good question: Why not use something that the students are already engaged with? He uses the term “meaningful environment” frequently, which has been used in many past studies and is described as an environment in which a person relates to or cares about what is happening. Devlin explains that 3D Massively Multiplayer Online games are especially effective. This is a result of the player’s identification with the character that s/he made in the game and the things that the character is experiencing. Creating educationally-based obstacles for the player’s character allows the player the chance to learn how to over come such a challenge. This is Devlin’s basis for believing in educational video games.
As I continue my research on the subject, I hope to be able to secure an interview with Devlin and find out how progress is going on his own game, which he has begun development on with the help of a game development company. I would like to find out what the specific parts of his game are that he sees as necessary for education. I have no doubt that when my research is complete, I will know how a truly viable educational video game can be constructed.
~Trevor Metoxen, Stanford University ’13