Certain types of video games can have beneficial effects, improving gamers’ dexterity as well as their ability to problem-solve – attributes that have proven useful not only to students but to surgeons, according to research discussed Sunday at the Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association.

As most of you already know, I am a huge fan of the idea that video games should be a part of social studies instruction. Grand Theft Childhood, Don’t Bother Me Mom, How Computer Games Help Children Learn, Everything Bad is Good for You, Got Game, current research and simply watching my own kids play have convinced me that video games are powerful learning engines.

The research released Sunday by the APA is further evidence that teachers and administrators should be thinking and talking about ways to use games in the classroom.

It seems fitting that it was a high school student interested in medicine who pointed me towards the research.

Check this out! Playing games will make me a better doctor.

As game developers find ways to more develop interesting and challenging games, it will become easier for teachers to find ways to incorporate these tools into their instruction. This is especially true as more schools upgrade their bandwidth to allow more and more access to online, browser-based games.

An example of this type of online game is called Travian. Much like the World of Warcraft game cited in the APA research, Travian asks players to solve problems, work together and develop long-term strategies. And while Travian and WOW are the kinds of games that play out over longer periods of time, many online games such as Stop Disasters can be played during the course of a typical class period.

My question?

What’s the best way to encourage and support teachers who want to incorporate these into their teaching? Still working on that.

A lot of it has to do with convincing tech people that this is a good idea and that true learning is taking place. Getting them to provide resources and to dial back the filtering software so these tools can get to the kids.

Any ideas?