Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Games that teach

As children spend time learning from digital methods - like playing games on the iPad or tablet etc., a moot question comes to mind. Are they learning? If so, how much and what?

This really is a sequel to my post of yesterday where I figured how 'Subway Surfers' is making the little ones think about resources and resource allocation. They have a limited number of gold coins that they have accumulated by playing which can be used to 'buy' various things. Some of them useful, some useful, some worthwhile, some just embellishments. So, there are various temptations that are 'short term gains'. Should they go for the short term gains or wait for their 'long term goal'? The younger one is all for short term gains while the elder one wants to wait.

And this is not the only game. In many games they have to try out a particular maneuver many times before they get it right. They need to wait and see a pattern before they jump into something. They need to try out various strategies before one succeeds. And I am sure, that is a very limited range of the things they need to do. Many a times, they go through a maze before finally hitting a eureka moment.

And this sort of learning is better than learning that is taught. Somewhere as parents, it might be a great way to integrate learnings from some games back to them (but I am yet to figure out how). Right now, I have opened my eyes to the various types of learning that happens in games. And this happens in a world that they are completely in charge of - where, if at all they fail, all that happens is one more attempt or some more perseverance and what better safe arena to try out than in a game?

Does it teach them a little planning? Or perseverance? Surely, the games will not teach them everything, but perhaps at some point, their mind will pull in all these experiences together?

I think it will...

Clearly the debate between whether the iPad is a waste of time is not going to end anytime soon, but the answer like in everything else lies in moderation. And secondly, technology is going to be around - and we are better off trying to make friends of it than enemies. And in any case, this interactive technology is far far better than watching non-interactive television. And moving away from television is a world of good anyway...

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