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Your Homework is Play Video Games 331

GuitarNeophyte writes "Four schools in the UK will be testing a new program idea to use video games for educational use. An IT researcher, along with Electronic Arts (the software game giant) are funding the proposition. 'We're looking at developing some of the softer skills that are needed for the 21st century, such as problem-solving, resilience, persistence and collaboration.' "
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Your Homework is Play Video Games

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  • Ew... (Score:5, Funny)

    by ZakuSage ( 874456 ) on Thursday August 18, 2005 @10:02AM (#13347079)
    They have to play EA games? Wow, I feel sorry for them.
    • Re:Ew... (Score:2, Funny)

      by ucahg ( 898110 )
      Hey, at least the summary was kind enough to clarify that he meant Electronic Arts the game giant, and not Electronic Arts the chimney sweep.
      • Back in Russia in early 1990's we had just got a new classroom with IBM computers. The computer science (we called it 'informatics') teacher let us play Sokoban and Lemmings for a grade. It was really fun, made you think logically, and gave the teacher time to go out and run errands and take smoke breaks. A win-win situation if you ask me ;)
    • "No Johnny, you can't go outside and play. You've only put in 10 hours of homework today, and you haven't made your weekly quota of 110 hours yet."

      "But Mom, it's Sunday!"

      "Do you want to let us down? Now go back and don't come out until you've put in another 5 hours, and maybe we'll let you watch TV for a couple minutes before bedtime."
    • Re:Ew... (Score:5, Funny)

      by FidelCatsro ( 861135 ) <fidelcatsro @ g m a i l . c om> on Thursday August 18, 2005 @10:17AM (#13347240) Journal
      Playing EA games they will learn important business skills , such as :

      1:) milking a franchise for all its worth

      2:)Maximising your profits by removing such silliness as overtime wages and workers rights

      3:) how to count (One sequel , two sequels ....... fifteen sequels )

      4:) how to rush things to market to upstage your opposition

      5:) how to cover up #4 with marketing
    • Re:Ew... (Score:3, Funny)

      by Gleng ( 537516 )
      At least they'll learn how to Challenge Everything.
    • Re:Ew... (Score:2, Funny)

      Yeah, especially if they give you 90 hours of homework per week!
    • What I'm worried about is the game programmers mentioning "persistence". To them, that just means the ability to save your game.
    • Re:Ew... (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Elias Ross ( 1260 )
      Am I the only one who remembered EA back in the C=64 days, when they truly were the maker/publisher of innovative video games? Classics such as Archon, Mail Order Monsters, Racing Destruction Set, Modem Wars, Wasteland, etc.
    • Alright class, your homework for this weekend is to finish Squaresoft's Final Math Fantasy. It's an 80+ hour game with plenty of repetitious "math battles" and I want your Memory Card (8MB) (for Playstation 2) on my desk Monday morning.

      We had this sort of thing in my time. We called it edutainment and it wasn't that popular then either.
  • by Alcimedes ( 398213 ) on Thursday August 18, 2005 @10:03AM (#13347081)
    IIRC, Doom had a lot of very graphic anatomy lessons built in.
  • IMO, it is vital to make homework not feel like homework in order to get children interested in their schooling again and combat their growing apathy.
    • by ryanov ( 193048 ) on Thursday August 18, 2005 @10:06AM (#13347119)
      I don't really get it though. My parents told me "listen, quit the fucking apathy and do your homework." If I didn't, I was sorry (no, they didn't beat me up, but they punished me, y'know... like parents). I'm not really sure why grade school kids get to decide whether they wanna do work or not these days.
      • by mrRay720 ( 874710 ) on Thursday August 18, 2005 @10:15AM (#13347223)
        How very true.

        But then since you can seemingly get branded a child-hating monster of a bad parent nowadays by even looking at your child in a disaproving manner while they rape and old woman... this isn't really surprising.

        Children nowadays are given more and more freedom and less and less resonsponsibilites. You can get away with pretty much anything short of murder if you're under 16. What are parents getting in return in order to combat this? Well they're told that it's not their responsibility, and this is reinforced over and over. For those that realise that this is completely stupid and dare actually try and rase their child sensibly, they're attacked for doing so.

        Homework is just a tiny fraction of the overall problem here.
        • Actually, kids don't have more freedom. When I was a kid my parents let me walk all over the neighborhood and explore. I can't image that hapenning today. Video games just make a good babysitter and help us get fat. That's about it.
          • by dnoyeb ( 547705 ) on Thursday August 18, 2005 @12:01PM (#13348171) Homepage Journal
            Video games feed information at a relatively accelerated rate. They contribute to low attention span, impatience, and quickness to boredom. Bad qualities to nurture.

            But hey, theres always Ritalin.
          • by Analogy Man ( 601298 ) on Thursday August 18, 2005 @12:21PM (#13348336)
            Right on!

            I am 37 and have heard our generation refered to by some as the last "free range" generation. Some kids got out of line and ended up in trouble, but in balance kids learned where reasonable limits were and were held responsible for their behavior. I later observed in college as a Resident Assistant that the kids to watch out for were the ones who's parents tightly controlled them. The ones that had a longer leash growing up knew how to negotiate the wild wild world without going bonkers. I think the key was that other adults (besides your parents):

            • where around (more stay at home moms)
            • knew who the kids around the neighborhood were
            • cared what they were doing
            • were outside
              • people used to open windows and go outside
              • people would mow their own lawns
              • more people had gardens
              • people walked to places (yesterday a neighbor drove to our house from 5 doors down the street!)
            • could step in and discipline someone else's kid (within reason) without fear of
              • kid shooting them
              • parent shooting them
              • parent filing lawsuit
              • being arrested for assault for hauling a kid home by the scruff of the neck
            • It will never be the same, but I hope to provide for my 4 kids some of the life experience I had that I feel is critical.

      • The idea here is to make homework more engaging. Even though the term "video game" is being bandied about, what they're really talking about is "computer simulation." This technology will make it easier to introduce the concept of *case studies* to kids at an earlier age. As anyone who went to college knows, the best way to learn something is by doing case studies.

        When I was in grade school and high school, we just did pages full of math problems, with no real explanation of what use they are. While I still think that is necessary just to build up practice, I would have appreciated going to the next level and learning how some of those concepts actually applied to real life. As a result, there is a lot of stuff I learned in algebra and trig that I have simply forgotten over the years because I never had a chance to apply it to a real life situation, albeit a simulated one.
    • "IMO, it is vital to make homework not feel like homework in order to get children interested"

      Sure, but rather than have them PLAY video games, have the MAKE video games. Yes, you can start that in elementary school - I did, and so did every other kid lucky enough to have a computer prior to 1980 - the masses were getting ATARI though. Besides, you don't need to pay EA to make games: Python and PyGame - now get started.

    • by hungrygrue ( 872970 ) on Thursday August 18, 2005 @10:15AM (#13347216) Homepage

      Ummm no. If it is necessary to keep the brats entertained at all times and constantly stimulated in order to get their attention, then there is a serious problem. The correct response is to not allow them to have their toys and games at all if they can't be bothered to come out of their fantasy world and do some work.

      Pandering to them and trying to keep them interested because they have the attention spans of fruit flies will only make the problem worse. It is the kids that need to change, not the entire world in which they live. If little Johnny can't be bothered to do his Math homework because it's not as fun as playing Quake, then little Johny should get teh $#!+ beat out of him until he decides that maybe he SHOULD do his work. His math teacher should not have to wear a clown nose, dance a jig, and assign video games for homework just to keep him awake.

    • IMO, it is vital to make homework not feel like homework in order to get children interested in their schooling again and combat their growing apathy.

      You know, I'd love to help eliminate the growing apathy problem, but... meh...

    • IMO, it is vital to make homework not feel like homework in order to get children interested in their schooling again and combat their growing apathy.

      Bullocks. How will you make the hamburger-flipping jobs they get after graduation not feel like hamburger-flipping? Will EA create a hamburger-flipping game to make minimum wage exciting. This is nothing but a total abdication of responsibility by the teacher organizations.

      People need to get it through their thick skulls that success depends not on what hap
    • I strongly disagree.

      If you make something easy or fun it loses educational value. This is much more obvious in athletics. I have yet to encounter a workout regime that is "fun" and actually works to make you a great athlete. To run even a 5 minute mile, you have to get your ass out there and run until your veins pump acid and keep running and do it every day with a little day of rest once in a while.

      Why is it that everyone seems to think mathematics or language or anything is any different? There may be
  • by mmell ( 832646 ) on Thursday August 18, 2005 @10:03AM (#13347089)
    You know - Readin', Ritin', and 'Rithmatic? After all, it worked for decades here in the USA!
  • by WormholeFiend ( 674934 ) on Thursday August 18, 2005 @10:04AM (#13347093)
    If it's work, it won't bring the same satisfaction as playing a game for pleasure.
    • by bedroll ( 806612 ) on Thursday August 18, 2005 @10:20AM (#13347279) Journal

      As an example I'll use my nephew. When he was 5 years old my brother-in-law bought a new computer, after two years of me pleading that he accept that his Packard Bell Pentium 133 wasn't up to playing 99% of available video games. When he did this we almost immediately bought my nephew several K-3 educational video games. At first he really liked them and was excited to play them, until someone gave him their old playstation. Now you can't pull him away from your standard lot of sports and kids games. These games do little to teach more than hand-eye coordination. They are more fun, though, so he'll stick to them.

  • Ouija Board (Score:5, Funny)

    by captnjameskirk ( 599714 ) on Thursday August 18, 2005 @10:04AM (#13347096)
    And in related news, the TEA are consulting Ouija Boards to determine the next Social Studies curriculum.
  • by jwriney ( 16598 ) on Thursday August 18, 2005 @10:04AM (#13347102) Homepage
    Your Homework is Play Video Games

    Apparently someone skipped their English homework.

  • Hmm... (Score:3, Funny)

    by Musteval ( 817324 ) on Thursday August 18, 2005 @10:04AM (#13347103)
    I wonder what their adult education games are like.

    *moves to UK*
  • Lemonade Stand ...
  • It's a start (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Nairoz ( 856164 ) on Thursday August 18, 2005 @10:05AM (#13347111)
    The way I see it, at least they're considering if this is a good idea, rather than going down the "games=bad" route. All of the skills they want to teach the kids, from the article, are present in games.

    I'd be interested to see how this turns out, and if it's actually teacher-led "gaming", as it were, rather than "I'll sit here with a cup of tea catching up on my mountain of paperwork when you play these games and hopefully learn something".

    At the very least, it's a start.
    • I agree completely. Kids will tend to think something is great fun when it is a video game. I think this could also be applied to gym class. Why not have Dance Dance Revolution setups in gym classes? It is a great workout, and lots of kids might enjoy what they are doing!

      Not to say that gym class should be only this sort of thing... it just might be a worthwhile component.
  • Some parent, some where, is in a panic thinking the system is about to spring GTA on their kid.

    It's been said before that parents don't care what kind of games their kids play [slashdot.org] but rather how much time they're spending playing them.

  • by burtdub ( 903121 ) on Thursday August 18, 2005 @10:05AM (#13347116)
    Does this mean the next generation will procrastinate by reading Socrates and performing Fourier Transforms?
  • Drivers Ed (Score:5, Interesting)

    by rlp ( 11898 ) on Thursday August 18, 2005 @10:06AM (#13347121)
    A lot of American schools have eliminated drivers ed. It would be useful for a driving simulator (not racing) that is designed to help new drivers with both normal driving (merging, heavy traffic, navigation) and emergency situations (accident avoidance, skids, bad weather, etc).
    • Re:Drivers Ed (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Doverite ( 720459 )
      I had this idea a while ago. The problem is that unlike flight sims like MSFS nobody is willing to risk the potential for lawsuits and liability that these things would generate. Nobody expects to only use a flight sim program to learn to fly but all those teenagers are to big a risk for the software companies to take, not my opinion but, otherwise there would be dozens of these simulators. I know I'd spend a couple hundred on SW and equipment for myself let alone my kid. But all those ambulance chasers out
  • FTA:'We're looking at developing some of the softer skills that are needed for the 21st century, such as problem-solving, resilience, persistence and collaboration.'

    I don't get all the fuzz about problem-solving. What's so special about it? Why has it suddenly become so important? You can find it even in the synopses of some of the subjects taught in colleges: "helps improve problem-solving skills" or something similar. Except that, well, it's no use if you are a wicked awesome problem solver, but you can

    • Part of problem solving *is* defining the problem.

      As you pointed out, what good is being able to solve a problem if you can't define it. You aren't the first to come up with this insight, and as such, these things are taught if the teacher is truly interested in teaching problem solving.
  • Great idea! (Score:5, Funny)

    by October_30th ( 531777 ) on Thursday August 18, 2005 @10:07AM (#13347133) Homepage Journal
    skills that are needed for the 21st century, such as problem-solving, resilience, persistence and collaboration.

    Hey, what a great idea! We never needed those before, but NOW there's some serious demand for brand new skills like problem-solving.

  • Like finding l337 phucking ways around $h|77y chat filters? I'm sure these kids will be giving presentations at Black Hat in no time ;) </drippingwithsarcasm>
  • by manavendra ( 688020 ) on Thursday August 18, 2005 @10:08AM (#13347145) Homepage Journal
    There was talk early this year (or was it last year), about the game developed by WHO, to teach young kids in the developed countries, about the plight and standard of living of people in third world countries. However, it met with the same fate as the others that I heard of in the past... the launch of such a game is covered a lot by the media, but fizzles out with no updates posted about the effectivness.

    On the other hand, how does one measure the effectiveness of such an initiative?

    As for this trial, one has to wonder how much of a push is it from the gaming giant to lure more children into the gaming world?
  • Sounds like fun! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by TildeMan ( 472701 ) <gsivek@@@mit...edu> on Thursday August 18, 2005 @10:10AM (#13347164) Homepage
    When I was little, I had all the computer games like Operation Neptune, Super Solvers Midnight Rescue, Where in Time is Carmen Sandiego, Number Munchers, and so on. Those were totally awesome. I'd play them again if I had them. When I was even younger (like maybe 4), I had an awesome baseball game where at each at-bat, you choose a level of difficulty and they give you an appropriate arithmetic problem. You get it right, you get a hit. You get it wrong, you're out. /No point to this post, just waxing nostalgic...
  • Too bad they didn't parter with ID to make a Math Blaster FPS. Or maybe an American McGee's Reader Rabbit.
  • Right. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by dzfoo ( 772245 )
    'We're looking at developing some of the softer skills that are needed for the 21st century, such as problem-solving, resilience, persistence and collaboration.'

    Right. Too bad they will be lacking in social skills and cultural values.

    But then again, he did say "needed for the 21st century"...

    • Bah! dont worry United States has been making its kids learn what they will need for this for some time now... just blow up things and kill "aliens" (in the broad sense of the word)... just a nice training.

      Procreation? moral values? ethics? ha... who needs that? /rant
    • Not to mention mathematics, reading comprehension, history, civics, science. Once upon a time, those were taught in schools.
  • EA? (Score:5, Funny)

    by grasshoppa ( 657393 ) <skennedy@tpn o - c o .org> on Thursday August 18, 2005 @10:11AM (#13347182) Homepage
    Top three reasons why I don't want EA involved in this

    1) Homework will take 10 hours a night to complete, but "only during crunch time".

    2) There are always other students willing to participate in the program if you don't want to

    3) Students won't get extra credit, no matter HOW much homework they do

    On a more serious note, I've been saying for YEARS that we need to focus on these so called "softer" skills. Current education is too hooked on what a child knows and how well they can memorize, not how able they are to figure things out. I realize that the subjects are supposed to be vehicles to teaching these "softer" skills, the problem is many teachers don't. They teach facts to be memorized ( especially at the higher levels ), not concepts to be thought about.
  • We're looking at developing some of the softer skills that are needed for the 21st century, such as problem-solving, resilience, persistence and collaboration.

    As well as shooting machine guns or plasma cannons while jumping 10ft in midair, jumping out of moving vehicles at 30mph to run into and fly a nearby helicopter, diffusing explosives with a pocket knife, commanding legions of foot soldiers while maintaining a productive economy, and of course... respawning.
  • Is this going to take time away from human interaction, i.e. class discussions, teachers lecturing?
  • by __aaclcg7560 ( 824291 ) on Thursday August 18, 2005 @10:16AM (#13347228)
    Problem-solving... Get into difficult-to-reach sniper spot.

    Resilience... Survive long enough in difficult-to-reach sniper spot to make a difference.

    Persistence... Inflict as many headshots as possible without missing.

    Collaboration... Can someone get me some more sniper ammo?
  • We're looking at developing some of the softer skills that are needed for the 21st century, such as problem-solving, resilience, persistence and collaboration.

    "Soft" skills? "21st century"? In which human-inhabited geologic era were such talents not a near-necessity?

    The project may prove valuable, but its mission seems the more commonplace one of sweetening a learning curve ...this time with the known seductions of a joystick...

  • Think of the boom in eyeglass salses - all those kids retina's trashed from video games AND homework.
  • by Mister "The Yellow Dart" Llah

    Since maybe like the Middle Ages, there have been many differing opinions about hustle and bustle. This cannot be denied. It is my intention to sit down and play video games for several hours.
  • We had many games that are "educational" the suprising thing though is these were well built games, and I believe the best ones came out of EGA (if I remember that company right) and EA. Carmen Sandiago anyone? I particularly liked the Super Solver series for their logic problems.

    If EA is making games for children that'd be great, but Video games for homework only works when we deal with games for learning. Madden isn't going to teach anyone that much except hand and eye coordination and how not to get y
  • "Johnny1337, that's a wallhack! You're to sit over in that corner, by the crates. Johnny, put that sniper rifle DOWN!" ...

    "No, evilgrrl, that's spelled "dudes". There is no "z" in "dudes". How will you ever write for IGN if you can't spell correctly?" ...

    Look, BillyBadAzz, I know the pirates came and stole your isk. You need to tell them that that's wrong, and not let them do that to you. And Billy... Billy, that's a BAD WORD in your name. You change that right now! /kick
  • In Soviet Russia, your homework plays YOU!
  • Old is new again (Score:3, Informative)

    by couch ( 83548 ) on Thursday August 18, 2005 @10:34AM (#13347396)
    This is nothing new, until the Windows platform completely wiped out the homegrown competition, we always had educational games in schools in the UK. Companies like Sherston [sherston.com], 4Mation [4mation.co.uk] and others released loads of 'games' for schools. Googling about now, I've found a few of the old-skool education games still knocking aroung (for example Granny's Garden [rm.com]), and some others that never seem to have made the jump from the 8 bit days (like Suburban Fox).

    Some of the games that were created back in the 90s were very closely tied in with specific National Curiculum targets, and still manages to be quite fun to play - albeit made on quite a small budget, with the sort of money that EA has to throw at production, these new generation of education games could be really good.

  • http://gvr.sourceforge.net/ [sourceforge.net] is an interesting concept to build upon.
  • "But Mooooommmmmm...I don't want any hot coffee right now..."
  • If they let these children play games, they should also make sure they keep them away from the GameFAQs.com forums. Frankly, I think such forums are destroying the minds of youth all over the world.

    My grandson pointed out to me the horrible grammar and spelling of most young people there. He has decent communication skills, and he found it very funny how poorly some of the fools there wrote. GameFAQs is anti-education: it makes young people stupider.

  • by WidescreenFreak ( 830043 ) on Thursday August 18, 2005 @10:38AM (#13347443) Homepage Journal
    Depending on how it's implemented, I see no reason why games can't be developed that either (A) require a printout when a student completes a level/course to prove that it was done or (B) reports back to central repository so that the teacher can determine if the work was done.

    So, for example, a student plays a game that deals with the multiplication tables. The game is entertaining and informative at the same time, so the kid enjoys playing it. Once the "work" level has been "won", out goes a signal (or a report) stating that little Johnny has completed the work. The teacher has proof that the game was played and little Johnny had fun with it to the point that he looks forward to the next assignment. I don't see this as being difficult to achieve, nor to I believe that this is something that is unattainable as TFA suggests.

    Obviously, there are technical issues with this (being cynical geeks we can always find flaws), but I don't see any reason why this could not be done to the point that video games, classwork, homework, and education are synonymous.

    So, let's see. A boring book or a complete multimedia experience. Gee, which one do you think the kids will want more? Apparently, the cynics here have not heard of the still-popular Reader Rabbit series.

    And give Taco some slack. After years of having to deal with "All Your Base Are Belong To Us" derivative posts on Slashdot, it was only a matter of time before that type of fractured grammar became a part of the Slashdot mentality. :)
  • by Travelsonic ( 870859 ) on Thursday August 18, 2005 @10:39AM (#13347451) Journal
    They should go to Konami for games they could use in gym class. Last time I checked, Dance Dance Revolution is one helluva addicting, and sweat inducing game even when you are not in workout mode.
  • by Quick Sick Nick ( 822060 ) on Thursday August 18, 2005 @10:41AM (#13347477)
    Computer games giant Electronic Arts and education IT researcher NESTA Futurelab, are to conduct trials to see how computer games can be used as educational tools in schools.

    Sales Rep: Sir! We have a problem, no one is buying our shitty games!

    CEO: Hmmmm.... is it because 25 of our last 26 games have been sequals? [nytimes.com]

    Sales Rep: That's part of the problem, sir, but all of our games contain a copious amount of um, shit.

    CEO: Interesting. We need a new market approach.

    Sales Rep: Sir?

    CEO: We sell our games to schools, and say they our educational!

    Sales Rep: Brialliant!

    CEO: We have to make sure they buy our utter crap too, so let's say "all our genres have something to offer"...

    Sales Rep: Oh Sir, the school districts will love it! I'll get the board on the phone right away. Hello Add'em '06!
  • just hire some kids to be bullies to pick on the kids every day. Either that, or disable "God mode" in Doom.
  • ...such as problem-solving, resilience, persistence and collaboration

    You know, I learn't all these when I was young too. The difference being that I did it in a group of people which meant that I also learn't how to listen properly, empathise with others, social skills, a sense of achievement and made a few friends to boot.

    Seriously, I know computer games aren't soley single player these days, but I can't help thinking that there are far better and cheaper ways to teach all this and more and also don't

  • by geekwithsoul ( 860466 ) <geekwithsoulNO@SPAMyahoo.com> on Thursday August 18, 2005 @10:55AM (#13347608)
    You are in a 21st Centurty school, your teachers are underpaid, the facilities are obsolete, your fellow students are apathetic. It is dark. There is a computer in front of you.

    >>turn on computer

    The computer is on.

    >>play educational game

    You are distracted by the bright colors and cool sound effects. You are supposedly learning problem-solving, resilience, persistence and collaboration; skills for which there is no test to measure your progress. You graduate.

    >>get job

    Your attempt to get a job fails. It is dark.

    >>get job

    Your attempt to get a job succeeds! You are now a fry cook at McDonalds.

    >>get better job

    Your attempt to get a better job fails. Your education never prepared you with either the intellectual tools or actual knowledge to succeed. You have no health care, you don't vote, and your kids will turn out even worse than you. Oh, and you've been eaten by a grue.

    Your dead
  • Missing key (Score:4, Insightful)

    by RyoShin ( 610051 ) <tukaro@NoSPam.gmail.com> on Thursday August 18, 2005 @11:13AM (#13347777) Homepage Journal
    'We're looking at developing some of the softer skills that are needed for the 21st century, such as problem-solving, resilience, persistence and collaboration.'

    And, in the back of the package, in small print: Social skills not included.
  • by TERdON ( 862570 ) on Thursday August 18, 2005 @11:16AM (#13347803) Homepage
    Reminds me of my homework at the university, which I had at the beginning of this semester. It was to watch animated movies (ie Toy Story etc). Ok, the course was on computer graphics and animation, but anyway...
  • by catherder_finleyd ( 322974 ) on Thursday August 18, 2005 @12:33PM (#13348432)
    Increasingly, Computer Game Playing (or, rather, Computer manipulation) is becoming a skill of some importance. For example, there was a recent article in the Washington Post about Coal Mining in Virginia:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/artic le/2005/08/14/AR2005081401174.html [washingtonpost.com]

Air is water with holes in it.