Video games and school: A perfect match?

Adherence to time-tested educational methods are wholly inappropriate these days, says advocate of gaming for education.

Although video games are often associated with wasting time, one professor is urging schools to incorporate their use in the classroom, reports PC Magazine

David Williamson Shaffer, an education science professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, says videos games could be a useful tool in helping prepare kids for the workforce.

"People think that the way we teach kids in schools is the natural way we should learn," said Shaffer, author of the book "How Computer Games Help Children Learn. But young people in the United States today are being prepared for standardized jobs in a world that will, very soon, punish those who can't innovate. We simply can't 'skill and drill' our way to innovation."

Video games are being used for a variety of purposes other than mere entertainment. The military uses them for training (and recruitment), surgeons use them for practicing on virtual patients, and teenagers can even battle their illness with a video game.

Shaffer and his team have developed a range of games that help students learn to think like engineers, urban planners, journalists, architects and other professionals. A list of their games is at www.epistemcigames.com.

When students play epistemic games, they participate in simulations of a society that they might someday inhabit. These games help them to develop ways of thinking and knowing that are valued in the world, giving them a way to imagine who they might someday become, the website states.