What place do video games have in a classroom? Aren't they just a distracting waste of time for kids who should be memorizing multipication tables? Sara Corbett eloquently answers these questions in her illuminating article in the New York Times, which aptly sums up some of the controversies around bringing technology into the education system.
My favorite passage in the piece, which will appear in Sunday's New York Times magazine:
What if teachers gave up the vestiges of their educational past, threw away the worksheets, burned the canon and reconfigured the foundation upon which a century of learning has been built? What if we blurred the lines between academic subjects and reimagined the typical American classroom so that, at least in theory, it came to resemble a typical American living room or a child’s bedroom or even a child’s pocket, circa 2010 — if, in other words, the slipstream of broadband and always-on technology that fuels our world became the source and organizing principle of our children’s learning?
Specifically, the article's about Quest to Learn, a small school in New York City that's been funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the MacArthur Foundation, among others, and its mission is to teach students through interaction with digital media and games.
For example, whereas in a traditional school students would learn algebra, history, and English in separate classes with different teachers, kids at Quest to Learn blend the subjects into one class and collaborate on building a game based on those very subjects. And they use digital media as their tools: podcasts, video editing software, and blogs, among others.