Most uninformed people might be inclined to say that video games are inherently anti-educational. Flying in the face of that kind of thinking is SimCityEDU, a collaborative project between GlassLab and Electronic Arts. In essence, this new online educational resource is being offered to intrepid teachers who are more prone to integrate digital-based tools to promote learning in the classroom. The ultimate goal of this scheme is (of course) is to promote STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) by way of video games like SimCity. Let’s face it, kids like video games, and if using entertainment products helps to promote children’s interest in the hard sciences works, why shouldn’t we explore it further?
Specifically, we’re talking about using SimCity to teach concepts of socio-economic development as well as environmental management and urban planning. It’s important to engage students as early as possible for a number of reasons, most obviously, so that they can begin learning, training and prepping for careers in these areas. Likewise, by providing those students which are truly interested in pursuing STEM-related programs (and eventually, industry jobs) we’re offering them a chance to expand their knowledge base and open up their minds to new ways of thinking. What’s the end result of all of this, you ask? Well, more informed and educated students for one; but this type of program will likely also promote future innovations as well.
Furthermore, those educators who embrace this new approach to instruction will be able to share their digitally-created lesson plans to others. What this essentially implies is that we’ll see some very refined curriculum materials come online which any teacher can tap into and use. Needless to say this is sort of akin to a new type of “crowdsourcing” as far as designing lesson plans are concerned. Eventually, it’s very likely that these plans will also be further refined through remote cooperation; meaning, the teachers have access to a powerful new resources and the students reap the benefits of all of this cooperative activity – a win-win situation. In terms of the content, students will be introduced to some pretty broad concepts via SimCity which will also hopefully be aligned with core educational standards in STEM subjects. Additionally, creative problem solving will be a focus with the project.
Perhaps what we’re really looking at though is an unexpected win for the video game industry on an entirely new front (or rather, one that’s been sorely overlooked and / or underappreciated in the past). This fresh attitude toward collaboration between educational institutions and video game companies like EA is also going to create better future leaders. The fact of the matter is that today’s students have a lot of different sources competing for their interests, and it’s nice to see that at least one facet of the entertainment complex is taking steps toward making education a priority.
To learn more about the SimCityEDU project, visit: http://www.simcityedu.org/