Thursday, September 25, 2003

Bad Educational Software

I quite enjoyed Timothy Burke's post pondering educational software for kids. He's also been watching his toddler interact with games...a source of endless fascination for me. Much of the conversation seems to be taking place around Liz's post, probably because Timothy's site doesn't let you comment, but his additions are as good as the article:
"It’s especially deadly when it comes to children’s games: the absolute worst are the ones that have been designed by someone whose main ambition is to be socially responsible and 'educational'. Then come the horribly licensed properties."
As an extension of the issue, Kevin Marks offers some practical reasons why so much children's software stinks, and includes a few examples of titles that are pretty good. He also talks about the root of the disconnect: "Childrens 'culture' in games or TV is triply disintermediated - by parents, publishers and producers". I rambled about a similar disconnect in Designing for Educators or Students, but when I re-read it now, I realize that I was still stuck in an institutional mindset. The kids don't want any part of the scenario I was using, except that it's a hoop they're supposed to jump through -- but they do want to play games that are actually fun...and those worlds rarely seem to overlap. When I ranted that Video Games Won't Thrive in Mainstream Education, I tried to answer the same question with this answer:
"Traditional education is all about control -- controlling what kids learn, when they learn it, and in most cases, how they learn it. Not that the approach is all bad, but good games tend to be more like punk rock -- they thrive partly because they chafe against all forms of control. They're irreverent, funny, loud, free-form, visually intense, and you find out about the effects of your choices in real time.
Thanks to Seb's Open Research for the initial link.

No comments: