reset.jpgBusy finishing up a book by Rusel DeMaria titled “Reset: Changing the Way We Look at Video Games.” Much has been written about how video games can impact learning and how brain research supports their use.

And DeMaria does spend time providing an overview of the that research. But he goes beyond the research and begins a discussion that I think we as educators need to have. How can we appropriately use video games and, more specifically, the theory behind them to encourage high levels of learning?

DeMaria talks about what he calls “the Magic Edge,” that . . . something . . . empowering video games to be both “immensely successful entertainment and highly effective learning environments.”He suggests that the unique combination of motivation, immersion, identification, interactivity and choice present in quality video games are what make games so powerful. He goes on to suggest that this combination should be used for good, not evil; “the next step is that games become an intentional medium of positive change in individuals and society.”

Not really rocket science when you think about but few have have used the word “intentional” as much as DeMaria does. It did get me to thinking again about something a small group of us are trying to articulate.

What is the best way to encourage quality instruction using the theory behind game design? What do instructional units look like when they intentionally incorporate motivation, immersion, identification, interactivity and choice into their design?So much of what DeMaria (and Prensky, Johnson, Aldrich, etc) tells us about the connection between game design and brain research can, and should, be part of our instructional units. I guess I’m struggling about what that looks like.

More importantly, I’m struggling with how to get that message across to teachers and administrators struggling to keep their heads above the NCLB floodtide. I’m convinced that educators want the best for kids and will find ways to make it work. How best to help?