The current eSchool News just posted an interesting article about online gaming and their impact on student learning. The article discusses some of the ways that Second Life and other types of multiple-player onlineLibrary of Congress in Second Life games can prepare players to succeed in life after high school.

When you think about the skills that students need when they leave school, like creativity and curiosity…identifying problems and solving them–these are skills that [can be] hard to teach in the traditional face-to-face classroom,” said Jody Clarke, a project director in Harvard’s Graduate School of Education.

Twenty-first century skills require different ways of learning and perhaps these types of tools can help. I’m not completely sold on Second Life, a statement that occasionally gets me in trouble with Digital Natives.

For those who really want to know:

  1. Sharp learning curve for most users
  2. Problems created by having kids in adult grid / adults in kid grid
  3. Many computers I’ve used in schools aren’t up to the task
  4. Lack of bandwidth

That said, I do believe that we need to keep looking for practical ways to use online games and worlds to encourage the learning of 21st century skills. The article calls online games “engines for creativity.” I like that!

What really grabbed my attention? A quote from Ntiedo Etuk, the CEO of Tabula Digital, creator of several great math games.

If you had a system that could compel a student or child to do so much to make it work, but instead it was teaching them about algebra or science or calculus, I think that educators would–and should–fall all over themselves to understand as much as possible about why that works and how that happens.

So how can we encourage teachers to fall all over themselves to use games? I’m still struggling with that one!

“Library of Congress Exhibit Now Open in Second Life.” Pathfinder Linden’s Photostream August 28, 2006. April 22 2008.