Similarities Between Chess and Video Games

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703793804575512123207658124.html?KEYWORDS=chess+programs+in+schoolKEYWORDS%3Dchess+programs+in+school

I grew up playing competitive chess in middle school and have been following some recent development in inner-city schools where chess programs are used as tools for alternative education. Mostly, children who have trouble staying focused in regular classes or get caught up in juvenile crime have been reassigned to these types of programs where chess plays an important role in their education. While the difference between chess and most video games are pretty substantial, there are also many similarities that make both chess and video games attractive for use in education. In the article listed above, school administrators cite certain skills used in playing chess that can be applied more broadly to life. The teachers claim that chess teaches students how to focus, to build and execute a plan, and other important problem solving skills. Additionally, chess is a game that is both intrinsically challenging and rewarding as one begins to win games.

The fact that chess is gaining popularity in certain schools points to the use of games for academic purposes. Benjamin Franklin discusses the benefits of the game of chess in an essay that can also be applied to today’s video games. He states, “several very valuable qualities of the mind, useful in the course of human life, are to be acquired and strengthened by it, so as to become habits ready on all occasions; for life is a kind of Chess, in which we have often points to gain, and competitors or adversaries to contend with, and in which there is a vast variety of good and ill events, (The Morals of Chess).” The advances in video game programming, design and subject matter will continue to strengthen their attractiveness as educational tools and their relevance to everday life. In addition, the acceptance of innovative approaches to education will further the possibility of incorporating video games into education on a larger scale. This will be an important and interesting development to keep an eye on in the years ahead and I would encourage those who are interested to check out the article posted above.

EA Sports Predict Superbowl Winners?

This’ll be interesting, especially for anyone currently playing Madden NFL. In this article — from September — EA Sports predicted that the Packers would win the Superbowl.  Apparently EA Sports has run Superbowl simulations since 2004 — and successfully picked the winner seven out of eight times. This is testimony to their games’ verisimilitude, I would say.

Google Science Fair

Really??? Google doing online science fairs?

http://www.google.com/events/sciencefair/teachers.html

Yup.  This was advertised on the edutopia.org website, and while I don’t normally follow advertisement links, this was intriguing.  Since it’s a competition with rules, a clear outcome, and a “space” it operates in where people are willing to change the rules of reality and take on a new role – that of scientist – I consider it a form of a game, although not a video game.

Students learn not only the science of their project, but also digital publishing skills since they have to post either a 20 slide powerpoint, or a 2 minute presentation online, or even make android or web applications!   For some students, this gives a meaningful context to the learning  – their work is displayed beyond the classroom.  YOU could apply to be a judge!  They have lists of links for advice, and even give tips for motivating students.

It’s still science fair… but it seems pretty darn cool, to me.

George Lucas on Education

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/george-lucas/beyond-superman_b_758088.html?ir=Yahoo

Who knew George Lucas started Edutopia? The man who brought us the force and e-woks also brought us a foundation that is doing everything it can to make technology a priority in our schools. After thinking about it, isn’t Star Wars all about blending mental capabilities with advanced technology? Doesn’t it provide students with humble and capable role models? What if every teacher was like a Ben Kenobi or a Yoda?

The video in the link “Technology Personalizes Learning for Elementary Kids”, online assessments allow teachers to make better lesson plans for their students. Not only does it do this, but the students learn computer skills through the assessment. Next stop: lightsabers and pod races.

To learn more about George Lucas’ foundation, click here!: http://www.edutopia.org/

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