The recent launch of the Sony Play Station 3 video game player has generated a lot of buzz due to the fact that it has the computer processing power of a multi-million-dollar supercomputer from six short years ago. However, the X-Box 360 video game player from Microsoft is not only a computing powerhouse, it is far better positioned than the Sony to be used to revolutionize training and education.
How can a kid’s toy revolutionize education and be used by business? Think of it this way. The games our kids (as well as a relatively few adults) are playing take them into a highly immersive, interspatial, 3D world where they often play very intensive and sophisticated strategy games. They learn how a wide variety of tools operate, in many cases weapons, futuristic vehicles, and various machines, and they develop strategies and tactics they can use to win the game. And, they don’t do it alone! You will often find them wearing a head set, collaborating with teammates from all over the world. In addition, they can now use a video conferencing feature to see the people they are collaborating with in real time.
A BACKWARDS TIME MACHINE
After spending hours of concentrated time playing in this advanced 3D learning environment, our kids go to school, stepping into what must seem like a backwards time machine.
In China, India, and other countries with rapidly developing economies, millions of families are migrating from no-tech rural areas to the cities in search of opportunity. When their kids enter the classroom, they feel as if they are stepping into the future, and opportunity. Of the two groups – industrialized nations and developing nations – which group of students is more motivated to learn in school?
AUTOMATE AND HUMANIZE EDUCATION
In 1983, I predicted that shortly after the turn of the century, technology would allow us to automate education and humanize it for the first time in history. I went on to explain in my prediction that automation seems to be the opposite of humanization, but it doesn’t have to be! The key in this case is to automate the parts of education that are not fit for a human to teach.
For example, anyone who has ever tried to teach a kid how to multiply knows that that job isn’t easy for a human. Teaching a kid what an adverb is can give you a twitch in your face. Teaching basic subjects like these would have been much more efficient, and effective, if the student would have used an interactive electronic game that was self-diagnostic, fun and competitive. They would learn how to multiply and all about adverbs, and the teacher would then have been freed to teach the higher levels of the cognitive domain, such as analysis, problem solving, and synthesis. That is what teachers went into education for in the first place, but they get bogged down teaching the lowest level of the cognitive domain and often burn out. My old predictions time has finally come.
FIVE KEYS TO AUTOMATING EDUCATION
Over the past twenty-three years of research and experimenting, I have found that there are five elements that can accelerate learning. If the experience is immersive, interactive, fun, game-like, and competitive, the learner stays at a high level of concentration and focus, and learning is dramatically enhanced.
Microsoft already has an education division, and they have a division devoted to X-Box video game development. In addition, the hardware is low cost and many kids already own one at home. All they would need to do is create games for education that take advantage of X-Box capabilities.