Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Interdisciplinary Curriculum via computer games

On the topic of educational games: "What good are they?", "Oh, those games are just like the drill-and-practice games from the 1980's, they're of no use to students". Well, they're not.

In continued exploration of educational uses of the iPod Touch, I downloaded a number of games and thought, "Well, this teaches math, geography, and critical thinking, in addition to being fun and addictive!" Isn't this the best of all worlds in educating students?
  • Chocolatier: think Oregon Trail but it's all about sourcing ingredients for ... CHOCOLATE! You travel to different countries to buy ingredients to make chocolate, use math and critical thinking for projecting how much of each ingredient you need to keep your factories stocked, use memory to recall which nations paid the highest price for your CHOCOLATE, history parallels to understand the transportation routes (Panama Canal, ship route Slave Trade, railroads)
  • Mancala: an age old game that teaches projections and critical thinking, a bit of math to calculate how to maximize as you try to get more marbles than your opponent.
  • any electronic version of board games: Monopoly, Scrabble, Scattergories, etc. all taught strategy in addition to academic and life skills: counting, money, spelling, facts.
    • Monopoly, especially having students research the locations or objects featured in any of the special editions
So you see educational gaming has come a long way: it's not just improved graphic capabilities, it's that they are more interdisciplinary and more interactive. With enough time, students will hopefully gain knowledge and skills and have fun doing so.

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