Digital World

Professional Reading: How Computer Games Help Children Learn

posted by Teresa Walls

Have you read How Computer Games Help Children Learn by David Williamson Shaffer? I have just begun. Already, there is plenty of food for thought, especially regarding games that allow children to role-play, moving beyond rote memorization. I imagine many of us who became librarians like trivia and random facts. But, really, where does that get you? O.K., perhaps on Jeopardy.

Shaffer discusses SodaConstructor as a “free, Java-based spring-mass modeling system–and when described that way it sounds like it might be about as interesting as a simulation of growing grass” (p. 42). I hadn’t heard of it, but I am inspired to learn more. It is a project created by Soda Creative Ltd. (a team of artists, developers and entreprenurs) and supported by NESTA, the United Kingdom’s National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts. Since being mentioned in Shaffer’s book, things have changed a bit (isn’t that the way with life on the World Wide Web?), but registration is now open if you want to play.

Shaffer and other researchers contribute to a blog, Epistemic Games: Building the Future of Education where they “welcome questions, insights, and comments on education, gaming, media literacy, and other related topics.” The Epistemic Games Research Group is housed within the Educational Psychology Department and the Wisconsin Center for Education Research at the School of Education, University of Wisconsin-Madison.

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