Mathematician Keith Devlin reflects on the use of video games in the classroom in his review of Greg Toppo’s The Game Believes in You: How Digital Play Can Make Our Kids Smarter. Devlin is of the opinion that video games can make for great learning tools. They allow children to explore different ideas and situations, encourage collaboration between peers, and provide immediate feedback. Organizations like MIT’s Education Arcade are designing educational games that make the most of these attributes. Their games’ challenges require problem-solving and critical thinking that can be easily translated into real world situations.
Unfortunately, many (if not most) math video games focus on repetition, rote memorization, and quick responses. They do not help children build conceptual understanding and can distract from authentic learning experiences. Additionally, all too often teachers are not provided with ample training and support on how to effectively use the devices in their classroom.