Around 67 percent of U.S. households are home to people who play video games. Many of those gamers are students, who can spend almost as many hours playing video games as they do attending school.
So it only makes sense that the U.S. Department of Education considers video games an educational opportunity of such priority that the agency plans to host the first Games for Learning Summit in New York City this month.
This summit will involve not just students, teachers and education experts, but also game developers and publishers, in hopes of creating more educational video games for classroom use across the country — which the department believes to be the future of education.
The Department of Education organized the summit as a response to President Barack Obama's ConnectEd program, which seeks to provide K-12 classrooms with the technology they need to improve learning for students.
"I think the education community is ready to really use technology in innovative ways," said Richard Culatta, the director of educational technology at the U.S. Department of Education. "But I think we are largely dependent on the people who are building these tools and solutions to provide apps that meet educational needs."
Although video games may seem like a luxury, their interactivity makes them the perfect tools for teaching children in a way they might better understand. Not only can educational games make mathematical problems more fun, but games related to history could help students better understand the events that led up to World War II and other historical events.
"Now there is an opportunity to see games as solving real educational problems," said Erik Martin, the lead for Games for Learning. "Video games can really provide formative, quality assessment about how a kid tackles a problem and how they fail and overcome the challenges around a certain context a game provides them."
Video games certainly make learning more interesting — taking kids out of textbooks and giving them the ability to learn through something interactive that also rewards them for tackling challenges. With the right program, video games in every classroom could see students improve over time, even lowering dropout rates because students be more likely to want to go to school if they see learning as engaging and fun.
Last year, the Department of Education hosted the first White House Game Jam, which brought in developers from all over the world to build educational games for specific learning needs. The program was a huge success that ended up leading to this summit.
[Photo Credit: Chris Parfitt | Flickr]
[Photo Credit: Lucélia Ribeiro | Flickr]