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Those who can play, teach: Video games in the classroom

Posted by Michael Warshaw  September 23, 2013 11:46 AM

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By Pernian Faheem, lead organizer, iGame Conference

Consider this: If American students scored just 40 points higher on international math tests, the US would generate $16 trillion of additional GDP income over their lifetime, according to a recent study out of Harvard. It seems like such a small gain for such a huge reward, but the question is: How do we get there?

One potential solution is to disrupt the 18th century factory model of mass-produced education that is the norm in our country, and tap into the power of technology and social media to tailor education to the needs of every child. The idea? Make the learning process more effective and a lot more fun.

We can do that now, simply by using educational games in the classroom. Our kids are growing up playing online games already. Rather than fighting it, let’s make sure they’re learning something useful in the process.

The Institute of Game Accelerated Multidisciplinary Education, or iGAME, is a nonprofit founded in Boston and focused on developing innovative educational games for schools. According to founders Naureen Meraj and Imran Sayeed, the goal is simple: bridge the gap between educational institutions and students by providing an engaging and meaningful learning experience.

One of the biggest barriers to information exchange (even in a well-connected, educational hub like the Boston area) is that most entities work in silos, cut off from each other. Unaware of the groundbreaking work being done in each other’s disciplines, they are barred from opportunities for partnerships that could propel the development of their work at a much more rapid pace.

On September 28th, for the first time ever, iGAME is bringing together investors, start-ups, entrepreneurs, educators, academics, and students to hear leading experts talk about the latest breakthroughs in educational games. Attendees can experience games first-hand in an iGAME lab, hear educational start-ups pitch their products, and participate in workshops where they will see how effective games can be in the classroom. With speakers from the nonprofit, educational, and technology realms, this “Un-conference” will provide a platform to stakeholders to combine ideas, tap into new resources, and identify technology solutions for problems in our education system.

The iGAME vision for the future is for educators and entrepreneurs alike to take part in a richer discussion about advancing students through experiential learning, and making educational games a core part of the school curriculum. Other specific goals for the conference are to educate investors and spur investments in educational start-ups.

Get some game-based learning into the classroom, and it will help students set clear goals, persevere when faced with intellectual challenges, be motivated to succeed, and eventually, celebrate their achievements. The solution to teaching obstacles is to make learning fun. And it’s happening now. Seriously.

The State of Play blog, organized by MassDiGI, features posts by digital and video game industry insiders writing about creativity, innovation, research, and development in the Massachusetts digital entertainment and apps sectors. MassDiGI, based at Becker College, is a statewide center for academic cooperation, entrepreneurship, and economic development across the local games ecosystem. Follow along @Mass_DiGI.

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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MassDiGI 8-24 287w872.jpgThe State of Play, organized by MassDiGI, features stories by digital and video game developers and business insiders. Follow along @mass_digi.

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