Monday, November 25, 2013

Where The Oregon Trail has lead us: Educational video games

Many wagons fail to make it all the way to Oregon...

I played The Oregon Trail in school. That doesn't make me feel old, because that game is still going - see here. I learned lots of stuff from playing the game, like family members could die from measles. Or typhoid. Or dysentery. Or drown while wading across a three-foot deep river. Or that I would never be strong enough to carry all that buffalo meat back to my starving family. It was a great break from social studies class, despite the fact none of us ever made it to Oregon.

(Seriously, if you ever won at Oregon Trail in school, let me know in the comments. I would love to celebrate your success with you.)

I'm thankful that my son has more to look forward to than creating roadside grave markers for members of his trailblazing party. Educational video games like SimCityEDU are teaming up with teachers to integrate video games in the classroom. In their game series, students will learn population management in cities, as well as how to reduce pollution and increase jobs. They will have to monitor their city's finances as well.

And that's not all. It looks like more companies are signing up to create educational games that teach students other skills - not to replace what they learn in the classroom, but to supplement it. And that is a trailblazing team I'd like to join.

What about you? How do you feel about video games in the classroom? Do you play any educational video games in your household? (And, seriously, did you make it all the way to Oregon?)

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