UK's Secretary of State for Education: video games will save the classroom

By on July 6, 2011, 7:00 AM

Michael Gove, UK's Secretary of State for Education, believes that video games can help aid the study of mathematics and science in the nation's classroom. He used Marcus Du Sautoy, a professor of mathematics at Oxford University, and his work as an example to illustrate how games can make the British education system more engaging for children.

"Computer games developed by Marcus Du Sautoy are enabling children to engage with complex mathematical problems that would hitherto have been thought too advanced," Gove said to the Royal Society in London, according to an official transcript (via Edge). "When children need to solve equations in order to get more ammo to shoot the aliens, it is amazing how quickly they can learn. I am sure that this field of educational games has huge potential for maths and science teaching and I know that Marcus himself has been thinking about how he might be able to create games to introduce advanced concepts, such as non-Euclidean geometry, to children at a much earlier stage than normal in schools."

Sautoy's Manga High allows educators to schedule online assignments that automatically reward items in accompanying Flash games. The system represents the future of early science and math education, according to Gove. His department is working with Hong Kong's Li Ka Shing Foundation and the Stanford Research Institute in the US to develop computer games that help teach students.

The official Manga High website even offers short versions of the free math games. To play full length versions for free, a teacher needs to create a school account and issue logins to its students. It's unfortunate that the full version of the games aren't simply offered for everyone in the world to play.

When I was younger, my parents bought me a Math Blaster game. I spent quite a bit of time doing exactly what Gove is referring to: shooting aliens and learning math. I remember being frustrated, just like when I learn a difficult math concept the standard way, but I also remember being ecstatic much more often when I figured out a a problem, a puzzle, or a brainteaser and as a result progressed in the game.




User Comments: 6

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insect said:

"When I was younger, my parents bought me a Math Blaster game. I spent quite a bit of time doing exactly what Gove is referring to: shooting aliens and learning math. I remember being frustrated, just like when I learn a difficult math concept the standard way, but I also remember being ecstatic much more often when I figured out a a problem, a puzzle, or a brainteaser and as a result progressed in the game."

Ditto! I think I learned to problem-solve, do math, and basics of English all through basic puzzle-games before I even got to school. Heck, even to learn specifics of some topics (like oxidation numbers for elements) I still turn to games online.

Guest said:

Only certain types of games can actually enhance learning such as http://mathiqgames.com where math skills embedded into the game's mechanics. General "brain-games" are more of the usual suspects that promise tons of benefit, but hard to measure actual results.

Guest said:

It seems that we are always looking for some magical way to put knowledge into our children's

heads.

The idea mentioned in the article may be a way to supplement learning, but computers are not the answer to all educational instruction.

Lokalaskurar Lokalaskurar said:

Guest said:

Only certain types of games can actually enhance learning such as http://mathiqgames.com where math skills embedded into the game's mechanics. General "brain-games" are more of the usual suspects that promise tons of benefit, but hard to measure actual results.

Agreed, partly anyway.

Just worth to be mentioned; some video game designers have been "smuggling" in interesting knowledge and science in some video game titles! Even though we're talking standard edu. here, I'd for one would've never have known what 'Cherenkov radiation' is if it weren't for Mass Effect. And it was the sole reason for my final (neat) grade in Physics ed.

And I'm very thankful for that grade!

Guest said:

I too have seen that game mechanics have worked with students. However, it is imperative that the resources they are using are proven to drive results; otherwise the students are actually just playing. My experiences utilizing Penda, with our middle school and me personally have had great results due to Penda's student engagement and the motivation using avatars. The brain is wired such that students want connectivity with other students as well as the challenge that other students provide. The creation of the avatars elicits emotional engagement in the amygdale, the part of the brain that facilitates authentic engagement. Utilizing Penda 100% of my students yielded on average 3.4 years academic gains in math and is should be mentioned that over 75% of my students had a learning disability. Penda helped our students find academic success and I believe Penda can help all students with the same success. I make the above statement with the frame of reference of having over 20 years experience in the field of education and over a decade of brain research in the area of student learning. I have been an administrator, a college professor, a teacher and have written a book about brain research and learning (ALPHA). Thus, I feel that I am well versed in the area of student engagement, academic success and learning.

Guest said:

Ooh gosh! What a great idea! Using computer games to teach maths. If only we teachers had thought of that...

Oh yeh...we did think of that - about 20 years ago. It's become standard practice with many other amazing ways to teach maths which Gove will no doubt discover over the coming months and years. Like learning our times tables or using social constructivist methodologies to scaffold learning...

Remind me... how is this this ignorant little man qualified to tell us how to do our job?

Oh.

He isn't...

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