AZ educational game projects help virtual classrooms teach real skills

Have you ever wondered what the classroom of the future might look like? Well, there may be fewer chalkboards and many more video games. In Arizona, several institutions, businesses and educators are working to bring games to the forefront of education.
One of those initiatives is Arizona State University’s (ASU) Center for Games and Impact, which studies the ways that video games could be applied to the classroom. ASU is on the forefront of pushing for more video games in the classroom at all levels of education.
For example, ASU’s Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College created Quest2Teach, a 3D game designed to teach prospective teachers. According to the Quest2Teach website, the students create an avatar and role-play through a variety of classroom scenarios. Students who play Quest2Teach have reported increased confidence in their ability to teach, the website adds.

Screenshot from Quest2Teach website.
Screenshot from Quest2Teach website.

Another Center for Games and Impact project is Play2Connect, which is working to create lesson plans that help educators integrate popular games into their curriculum. Play2Connect also offers training for teachers to help them understand video games and their potential role in the classroom.
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Video games’ educational potential is also evident in middle and high school classrooms through MinecraftEdu, an educational version of Minecraft, which has been used by teachers around the world to help students learn collaboration, communication and other subjects.
One of the strengths of MinecraftEdu is the sandbox nature of the game and the large number of options available that let teachers tailor the experience to the needs of their classrooms. MiecraftEdu is also partnered with the Center for Games and Impact.
It’s not just teachers who have caught the educational games bug; businesses have too. Tempe-based and ASU-backed Embodied Games for Learning focuses on creating learning games that instruct as well as help kids stay active and alert.
Read: ASU Startups to Showcase Learning Tech at ASU+GSV Education Innovation Summit
Of course, there are limitations to what games can accomplish. As Scientific American pointed out in a recent piece on video games in the classroom, we don’t know for sure whether video games have a lasting impact on learning or if the knowledge gained from games is easily applied to other skills.
But this is only the beginning. Video games are growing as both subject matter and teaching tools. As we reported over the summer, ASU has partnered with the Higher Education Video Game Alliance to try and make games a larger part of college education.
Let us know what you think about video games in education in the comments or on social media.
Video from MinecraftEdu and the Joan Ganz Cooney Center. Contributions from Scientific American.