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How Computer Games Help Children Learn 2006th Edition

4.0 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0230602526
ISBN-10: 0230602525
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Shaffer offers practical advice to assist parents and educators to respond to his call to radically transform an increasingly outdated educational system..." Barry Joseph, Online Leadership Director, Global Kids

"This totally enchanting book shows what education in the 21st century couldlook likeif we are willing to expand our notions of learning in ways that foster productive inquiry and design An extremely readable book that should be on the bookshelf of anyone who cares about having schools that help young people prepare to compete in the global economy." John Seely Brown, Former Chief Scientist of Xerox Corporation and Director of its Palo Alto Research Center (PARC), Senior Fellow, Annenberg Center, USC, and co-author, The Social Life of Information and The Only Sustainable Edge

"Beautifully written...How Computer Games Help Children Learn breaks new ground in exciting ways. What a treat! A book about the development of innovative thinking that is refreshingly innovative...A tour de force." Deborah Lowe Vandell, Chair, Department of Education, University of California, Irvine

"You may have asked yourself if computer games are destroying the minds of our nation's children. How Computer Games Help Children Learn shows that the exact opposite is true. Parents, educators, and computer game makers take note: by combining years of research and his front-line classroom experiences, Shaffer makes a cogent and compelling argument for the educational power of intelligently crafted games that can serve as tools to help children think and learn about real world problems and their solutions." Michael McCormick, Senior Designer, Backbone Entertainment, and Lead Designer of SimCity 4

"Shaffer's book moves from vivid case studies and accessible accounts of key ideas from the learning sciences to practical advice on how parents can help theirchildren learn more from the games they play. This book represents the logical next step in a conversation started by James Paul Gee's What Video GamesHave toTeach Us about Learning and Literacy and Steven Johnson's Everything Bad Is Good For You." Henry Jenkins, Director, Comparative Media Studies Program, MIT

"This well-written and important book will introduce parents and teachers to a radical idea: video games can be good for children. When children play games like Sim City or The Oregon Trail, they learn about urban planning or the American West in spite of themselves. But these games are just the tip of the iceberg; Shaffer describes a wide range of fascinating new learning games that are just now emerging...Because these games give children the chance to creatively manipulate a virtual world, they can teach creativity and innovation, abilities that are more important than ever in today's competitive global economy Shaffer advises parents how to pick out a good learning game, how to play it with your children, and how to make sure they are learning from it." R. Keith Sawyer, author of Group Genius: The Creative Power of Collaboration

"Shaffer's book points out forcefully a paradigm of future schooling: to better prepare our kids for a globally competitive world, we have to bring the thinking, practices, and cultures of various professions into school learning. With convincing examples of simulated professional games that can integrate learning, working, and playing, he proves that this is feasible." Tak-Wai Chan, National Central University, Taiwan

'This groundbreaking book raises fundamental issues concerning the goals of education and highlights the need for innovative thinkers in the 21st century. Written in a clear, lucid, and direct manner, Shaffer makes his ideas easily accessible to professional as well as lay readers. The book will benefit educators, school administrators, policy makers, and, most importantly, parents.' Yam San Chee, Associate Professor, Learning Sciences & Technologies Academic Group & Learning Sciences Lab, National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University

"Deep learning, technical learning, learning that leads to the ability to innovate: these are the most important natural resources in our global high-tech world. Will our children be able to compete with kids in China and India? Shaffer shows us how to mine the potential of video game technologies to transform learning at home, in communities, and in schools." James Paul Gee, University of Wisconsin-Madison, author of What Video Games Have to Teach Us about Learning and Literacy

"Like Dewey, Piaget, and Papert before him, Shaffer challenges us to rethink learning in a new age. He uses vivid examples - backed by solid research - to show what education should look like in the 21st century." - Kurt D. Squire, Assistant Professor of Education, University ofWisconsin-Madison,and Game Designer"A must read for anyone who cares about learning. Game designers depend on having millions of people voluntarily learn more than anyone would dare put into a school curriculum. So studying games - how they are designed and how they are played - is one of the best sources of insight about learning, and Shaffer is an excellent guide to making the most of it." - Seymour Papert, Professor Emeritus, Media and Education Technology, MIT Media Lab

From the Back Cover

"This well-written and important book will introduce parents and teachers to a radical idea: video games can be good for children. When children play games like Sim City or The Oregon Trail, they learn about urban planning or the American West in spite of themselves. But these games are just the tip of the iceberg; Shaffer describes a wide range of fascinating new learning games that are just now emerging...Because these games give children the chance to creatively manipulate a virtual world, they can teach creativity and innovation, abilities that are more important than ever in today's competitive global economy...Shaffer advises parents how to pick out a good learning game, how to play it with your children, and how to make sure they are learning from it."--R. Keith Sawyer, author of Group Genius: The Creative Power of Collaboration --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 242 pages
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan; 2006 edition (January 22, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0230602525
  • ISBN-13: 978-0230602526
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,281,776 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Paula L. Craig on March 24, 2007
Format: Hardcover
David Shaffer proposes here that we educate children by having them do the things adults do--only by simulating them in game form. This is an idea I haven't run across before, and I think it may have real merit.

I have a nine-year-old son who attends public school. His school spends a lot of money and effort on computer learning, but I have been frankly underwhelmed by the results. The educational software I've seen doesn't strike me as much of an advance over flash cards--just a lot more expensive. I consider myself generally a skeptic on the whole subject of computers in the classroom.

Shaffer's point is that not just any learning software will have educational benefits. The software must be a serious attempt to simulate the sort of tasks that adults do, such as running a business or designing a building. Shaffer calls these epistemic games. Shaffer's descriptions of some of these games do sound interesting, and he provides some evidence that children learn a lot from them. Shaffer's research seems to have dealt mainly with teenagers; his evidence for the benefits of these games seems much less solid for younger children.

I can't say that I'm convinced that computers in the classroom are worth the costs, but after reading Shaffer's book I'm willing to at least consider the idea. Shaffer may indeed have something here that could be a significant step forward in education.

That said, Shaffer's research strikes me as very preliminary. His studies involved only a few kids, who were far from randomly selected. The teachers were hand-picked, highly motivated, and interested in the subject they were teaching. The ratio of teachers to students was high, and the teachers put in a lot of effort. The kids were followed up for only a short time.
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Format: Hardcover
Dr. Shaffer aims high and really hits the mark. Most recent, successful books about learning and video games go for the seasoned computer aficionado (me), or the rank computer newbie (my husband). Rarely do they target both. Shaffer's topics are deep and wide, but his language is fluid and unassuming; as a result, both audiences will find useful chunks of knowledge that resonate.

It is not hard to understand why todays twelve-year-olds would rather play SIMS or DOOM than finish their math homework. Shaffer (and his excellent team of graduate students) makes a very compelling case for why those experiences need not be mutually exclusive. In fact, if the games in the book become more the standard in U.S. schools, there might indeed be hope for our kids in the world-wide digital market after all.
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Format: Hardcover
In this book, Shaffer takes the conversation about games and their relevance to society in general, and for children's learning in particular, to a new level. In a world where standardized thinking is rapidly being encapsulated in machines or outsourced, he says, education ought to be about providing young people with opportunities to learn innovative ways of thinking.

Which is where computer games come in: these games "are significant because they let us think in new ways" (p.191).

While touring a variety of video and other games, the book is centrally concerned with a new kind of game called an "epistemic game." In these games, players physically take on professional roles, like that of an engineer or architect, and use computers (and mentors/peers) to identify and solve problems - to think - like professionals.

In each of its six chapters, the book explores a specific epistemic game, such as Digital Zoo (about engineering), through a particular professional dimension, such as the specific "Knowlege" or "Values" of an engineer. (Promising commercial games are discussed along similar lines at the end of each chapter as well.) As a result, the book moves easily back and forth between personal stories and impressive studies, helping readers connect solid research on game playing with important learning theories.

This book is a must read for anyone interested in games, learning, and compelling visions for how to transform education.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
David makes some good points about how we need to use the better technology to help us teach and learn more quickly. He has a different style of writing from James Paul Gee, and I tend to like how Gee writes. There are some parts of the book that are boring and, for me, he seems to describe things that don't help me understand his point. But he gets his point across throughout the book. A pretty decent book overall.
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