Education is always a subject of study for tens of thousands of dedicated researchers around the world. Education, like all things, is a constantly-changing science. As humanity pushes forward to a far more glorious dawn, our technology and indeed the fundamental way our institutions work is subject to change.
Video games have always traditionally been seen as a distraction and a form of entertainment as opposed to an educational tool. MMOGs (Massively Multiplayer Online Games) are the subject of intense focus for researchers trying to decipher how video games reflect the nuances of modern society and shape them. In this, scientists continually delve into the problem of whether or not video games can be used as educational tools, or whether or not they have any beneficial properties at all.
LeapFrog’s Leapster is a line of educational games for school-aged children that teach kids to read, write, spell, and solve math problems. In the past, LeapFrog has offered online training programs for kids learning from home with their parents.
What if colleges and universities started using video games to teach important concepts to students? It is an idea that isn’t often considered, but it could be useful in both teaching the students and helping to gather a better understanding of their learning styles. Games can be programmed to measure user response to problems, and this is a potentially excellent way to gather information on how different individuals solve problems. This would give useful insight into how socioeconomic status, hobbies, and educational background influence the way that people handle problems when encountering them. For example, some students may be able to analyze a series of shapes and understand how they fit together to complete a square or triangle, while other students may struggle with this problem and do better with questions involving theoretical knowledge.
Should college online training programs incorporate video games as a way to bridge students together as a community? Introducing a sort of social MMO where students could get help from instructors and peers would be a great way to get distance learners involved with their college community. Unfortunately, MMOs in general tend to be a massive expenditure to create and maintain. In order to create a functional video game, a development team must be put together, as well as preliminary beta testers to work out the programming bugs in the game. After this stage of development, maintenance teams need to make sure that the servers that host the online community are up and running at all times, able to host hundreds or thousands of users on the game at one time.
Considering the costs of producing an in-house video game gives us a picture as to why colleges haven’t started producing their own niche video games. Perhaps in the future when coding languages become simpler to access, it will be more common to see educational MMOs or other styles of games employed by colleges.