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Monday, July 1, 2013

Video games in the classroom; useful or a waste of time?

Many times in my career as an educational technologist, I have come across advocates of playing video games as part of a class assignment.  I have always debated this idea both for the positive and the negative with colleagues and administrators.  I am still undecided with the idea of allowing games into the classroom.
Below is a Youtube video my son Dallin created.  He is 13 years old and plays Minecraft for a minimum of 2 hours a day and sometimes for much longer.  You should watch it.  He does an amazing job.  The problem is that he seems to border an addiction to Minecraft.

Here is a little bit of info for those who don't know what Minecraft is.  Basically it is a very low graphic style of gaming where players create an infinite amount of ideas by playing with blocks.  Who would have ever guessed that playing with blocks would become as famous as Minecraft?  Again watch the video below and you will be able to see what I am talking about.

Well back to my point.  My administrators came back from a conference where there was an advocate of bringing Minecraft into the classroom as part of the curriculum.  Even though my son has created a virtual world that is magnificent, extremely large, and architecturally amazing, would Minecraft be a tool that students could use to learn math, such as volume, area, perimeter, etc?  I have been asking my son for the last couple of years what the point of the game is; to which I still haven't received an answer that satisfies my question.  After all much of what he creates are zombie traps, and farm animals that he enjoys cooking with fire to make meat.

What do you, educators or students, think about the idea of bringing in a game like Minecraft into the classroom?  Would there be some educational value or would students waste a bunch of time making roast beef?