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article imageOp-Ed: Education breakthrough — Holistic education meets gaming

By Paul Wallis     Sep 26, 2020 in Technology
Sydney - Video games are scapegoats for a lot of things in media myths. Now, the tables are turning. Pioneering work by Acer and Build A World is showing exceptional promise using video gaming as a learning tool. This is the way out of Death Valley for education.
If you’re thinking “Duh”, and “How long did it take them to see that?” you’re right. Everything is on a screen now, from people’s lives to their aspirations. Just about everyone’s a gamer, in some way. Gaming in education is now getting some very positive reactions from teachers, too.
Of course, in education, proof of theory is everything. Regardless of the fact that using gaming and e-learning as education assets was always inevitable, and “prove it so we can use it” is the name of the game.
How could you possibly avoid it, in a digital world? Kids love gaming. Games are easily relatable, often more so than verbal cues. The good news is that Build A World, Acer’s forte piece in education, is getting good results.
To their credit, Acer is putting in a lot of effort and creativity. Build A World brings gaming to education in a mix of:
• Maths
• Real world scenarios
• Visual cues and inputs
• Practical problem solving
• Experimentation
• Outcomes
• Farming
• Infrastructure
• Power
• Architecture
• Specific measurements for problems
• Pattern making and solving
The educational scenarios are self-explanatory. Each scenario is based on a mix of elements, from visualization to putting elements in the scenarios together and making them work.
The holistic factor
What’s so “holistic”, you ask? Pretty much everything. These are quite complex scenarios directly related to real world management. That’s very new in education.
Previous generations were given academic positions to learn from regarding the real world. You could visit a power station and learn how electricity is generated. You couldn’t put a power plant together yourself and see what’s involved. You couldn’t do real farming, either. Each of these elements is a practical exercise, and that’s what’s so very, fundamentally, different.
This is a surprisingly healthy approach to a lot of problems. Educators and employers have been screaming for years that students weren’t getting the practical views of what they were learning, and therefore didn’t have the right skill sets.
Look at it this way:
• How much actual practical understanding can K-12 kids have of the world around them?
• Do they know anything about architecture, as in the places they live?
• Do they know much about infrastructure, which keeps them fed and with power?
• Do they have a clue about how food is grown or what’s involved in growing it?
• Do they ever get a chance to apply maths to practical situations beyond counting money occasionally?
There’s a much broader version of this problem. The slapdash approach has never worked. “New math”, non-phonics English, and similar teaching techniques never delivered. These things were put into the machinery of a child’s mind and expected to work. They didn’t, for a very good reason - To understand any subject you need to know how it works, not just what processes are involved.
Conventional maths is quite literally self-explaining. You can see your working and see where you’re right or wrong. Phonics and basic vocabulary training allow you to see how words are put together. E-learning is doing the same things using gaming as a logical process. It’s an excellent approach to learning anything.
This is “learning by doing”, another extremely reliable training method, adapted to K-12 levels. Gaming shows you what you need to do. You can find resources and use them instantly. It provides clear objectivity regarding results, whatever the game may be. You know what’s supposed to happen, and you can see what works and what doesn’t. It’s pretty foolproof.
Better still – This type of learning can integrate any subject into a wider picture. You’ve built the farm and the power plant, now see how the infrastructure works. Commerce, housing, you name it; you can integrate all these things into a whole picture, the literal meaning of “holistic”.
E-learning using these methods could make the world a lot more understandable. Exactly how Generation Whatever, which is scheduled to be thrown into the real world in the 2030s, is expected to have the vast new knowledge base likely to be required is hardly clear right now.
This type of learning also offers easy access to progressively upgrade learning on any subject using pretty much the same methods. The ballpark hasn’t been built yet for this level of developmental learning.
If they have reliable methods to learn, however, Generation Whatever will be OK, and so will remote learning. They’ll know how to learn, and have good dependable methods for learning. That’s a stunningly good outcome in this mismanaged world. I can see a lot of things going right with this idea. Let’s hope it’s adopted universally, and quickly.
This is an exceptionally strong idea for teaching anyone anything. Done by experts, you could teach kids quantum physics in day care. I really do hope that education authorities will grab any and every chance they get to use this approach to teaching.
About the video - There's a fair bit of "gamer shorthand" in this, images that make instant sense to gamers. Just check out the sheer range of things involved. You can even 3D print what you make!
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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