Learning by Playing

Carlos Nazareno object404 at gmail.com
Thu Sep 16 16:45:40 EDT 2010

Hi guys. Interesting paradigm-changing case studies of video game use
in elementary classrooms + curricula & how today's tech-savvy children
are different. (NY Times free registration required)

Learning by Playing: Video Games Win a Beachhead in the Classroom

I don't agree with some of the things in the article (horrific stuff
such as doing away with handwriting and spelling), but there there are
many interesting tidbits in there such as “failure-based learning”:

"children who persist in playing a game are demonstrating a valuable
educational ideal. “They play for five minutes and they lose,” he
says. “They play for 10 minutes and they lose. They’ll go back and do
it a hundred times. They’ll fail until they win.” He adds: “Failure in
an academic environment is depressing. Failure in a video game is
pleasant. It’s completely aspirational.”

On the subject of handwriting, I think the rise of tablets &
touchscreens may bring a new revival of penmanship (at least with
block print). The increasing non-standardization of keyboards due to
the plethora of computer & device form factors is actually destroying
touch-typing & making it obsolete. (IMHO, mobile is the future of

Don't you guys find the system of emphasizing fast typing on a layout
purposely made to slow down typing absurd? (QWERTY).

The wonderful thing a virtual keyboard provides is the ability to
re-map/reskin keyboards. I wonder how fast kids would be able to type
if it became ABCD instead of QWERTY? (I miss the Texas Instrument
Speak & Spell) -> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Speak_%26_Spell_(toy)

Oddly enough, I text faster on a traditional cellphone keypad (which
is technically ABCD) than on a Blackberry-style qwerty phone keypad
due to muscle memory & layout confusion.
Anyway, I've come across astounding "kids + computers" stuff over here myself.

While walking around the talipapa market in a visit to Boracay island
here in the Philippines last month, I saw a tiny 6-year old local
playing Counter-Strike deathmatch (
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Counter-strike ) and holding his own
against his older friends (ranging from 8-11 year olds) in a small
internet cafe. I'll upload the video to youtube once I find my phone
data cable.

A couple of years ago, I also saw three 8-year old street kids pool
together money to play Command and Conquer: Red Alert 3 (
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Command_%26_Conquer:_Red_Alert_3 ) taking
turns hot-seat style at a cheap internet cafe

Cue gasps of horror aside on videogame violence, I mean wow. At 8
years old, I could barely grasp running and jumping at the same time
with Super Mario Brothers.

Just goes to show how flexible kids are on computers and how they can
easily get around supposedly "complex" interfaces.

carlos nazareno
core team member
phlashers: philippine flash actionscripters
poverty is violence

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