Playing to Learn: Video Games in the Classroom

"You have to take into account that any type of video or computer game is in fact a simulation," Provenzo, who deals with issues involving technology and children, said. "Simulations aren't necessarily what the real world is like. It has terrific potential … but it is not neutral, and may not be accurate."

Provenzo is not against using video games in the classroom, but believes that teachers need to vet games beforehand and be sure students understand the nuances of using simulations.

"The issue is not whether you should use them or not, but that you should use them with an understanding that technology is not neutral, but comes with a point of view, a perspective," Provenzo said.

Some teachers are wary because there are a number of violent video games on shelves these days. Kelsey says because of this, video games get a bad wrap in school, but it's something he hopes will change.

"The minute you say video games, a large portion of people think of 'Halo' or 'Grand Theft Auto'," Kelsey said, referring to two popular and violent video games. "A lot of teachers haven't been convinced yet and of course they're skeptical a lot of time, there still needs to be a reform movement before traditional education understands what it's all about."

Kelly hopes the FAS can be at the forefront of this reform movement. The FAS has been working on the concept of using video games in the classroom for the past seven years and in addition to continuing to develop these games, hopes to convince the federal government to allocate resources to this field of research.

"We're trying to get the federal government to recognize that this is a big and important research area," Kelly said.

The FAS has been lobbying Congress to pass the Higher Education Authorization Bill, which includes a provision about allocating resources to digital initiatives in education, that could include video games. The bill has cleared the Senate but has yet to be passed by the House of Representatives. Kelly thinks that "Immune Attack" is just the beginning of an education revolution.

"We hope this is just the first step. The ideal situation is over the long run to really make it possible for anybody to learn any subject quickly, inexpensively, wherever they are," Kelly said.

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