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The Gaming Classroom: Why We Should Remain Skeptical Of Educational Video Games – Part 2 of 3

There is so much gaming hype going on in the world and it has invaded the education system for better and worse. Clearly the system is trying to find solutions to the epidemic of sub-par grades in Math, Science And Reading. I’m just not sure that educational video games are the solution. This is the second part of a 3-part series and we will be discussing in depth about another study done using the DimensionM game, which is the Math part of the DimensionU Gaming Suite.

Case Study #2: Where’s The Full Report?

A Broward County Study showed an average pre-post test improvement was 82.7% and 75% of students who used DimensionM received a passing grade in the course versus 35.5% of students who did not use DimensionM.

For the second study, I had to do some more research. Clearly, the increase in test scores and the increase of passing grades is remarkable. What I discovered is that this study was used on a group of rising 7th and 8th graders in a “Math Recovery Program” in the summer. This means that these were students with very poor grades in Math and therefore had a huge potential for increasing test scores.

Indeed, I am please with the results. These were young students whose scores were very below average and 75% of the ones that played the DimensionM games raised their test scores to “passing” levels as opposed to only 35% of the non-gaming students reached passing grades. I applaud the increase.

As I continued to look for the “full report” on the study to gather more details, I learned that there is no full report. At least, not one that could be found anywhere on DimensionU’s website or anywhere else online. I was a bit disappointed because all I could find were the highlights of the study. This makes me feel a bit skeptical at best.

The first set of figures are also somewhat unclear. It says that “pre-post test improvement was 82.7%.” Does that mean that on average, the students’ scores were 82.7% higher after having used the game? Or does it mean that 82.7% of students “improved” their test scores? I will assume the statement relates to the second question. If it’s true that 82.7% of students improved their scores, then, by how much? The study doesn’t say. It only states that 75% of students received a “passing grade.” So 3 out of ever 4 students passed and could continue on to the next Math level for the coming school year.

I wonder, how many of the students had failing grades, and then were able to raise their grades to a “D” range which would consider that a passing grade? The study doesn’t answer this question. Is it safe to assume that at least some of those below-average students went from an F in Math to a D? Sure, in the 3 weeks, I would consider that an improvement too.

Now All The Schools Want To Play Games

For the schools that have the budget want to invest in the DimensionU Gaming Suite. Why? Because the goal of schools is to minimize the amount of failing students as much as possible. It makes their stats look bad. The schools want to implement this technology into the classroom and use it as a teaching tool hoping that more students will achieve passing grades.

When Did Mediocrity Become Acceptable?

No where in this study does it even hint that with this technology we could possibly beat China, Japan, India, or many other countries in Math, Science, and Reading test scores. The study doesn’t hint at it, because it’s not possible! This study implies that everyone’s test scores will rise if used in the classroom. The facts aren’t there. Everyone is getting so excited that their failing students will achieve mediocrity at best. Wow! Let’s all clap our hands. We’ll have more mediocre students to compete against the superior students of Math, Science, and Language in other parts of the world.

Certainly, we must help our failing students. I’m not attacking them. We should do whatever is necessary increase their skills. One idea I have for struggling students is give them
the opportunity to participate in this gaming system after school. The games will give them an opportunity for more repetition in order to absorb the material that was taught in class. I just don’t want to see entire class periods focused on educational video games.

I’m not against educational games, but I don’t want the excitement for this technology, (just like any other new technology), to be implemented in such a way that it become a crutch for learning. Most of the students that participated in the study, said that they would like to have the DimensionU gaming suite in the classroom next year.

Does Learning Always Have To Be Fun?

For the last twenty years or so, I’ve been hearing that if learning could be done in a fun way, then why not do it? I also have heard countless times that learning is supposed to be fun. Certainly, enthusiasm can help in the learning process, but I think it’s a bad precedent to teach kids that learning is supposed to fun. They will grow thinking that everything is supposed to be fun. Is everything in life fun? If you’re an adult reading this, then you know the answer.

Let’s be realistic. Some things in life are not fun and that’s OK. If everything was fun we wouldn’t appreciate it. We need the “unfun” stuff in life so that we can make that comparison and therefore enjoy the fun when it comes our way. So sometimes learning is not fun, but it’s part of life. We need to be challenged. Humanity did not reach this point in time with just mediocrity. We have reached this modern technological world because humanity overcame its challenges.

Our Expectations Continue To Fall

We’ve gone from “giving children a head start in life” to “no child left behind.” The bar is being lowered and lowered. Instead of focusing on reaching mediocrity, we need to focus on achieving superiority.

1 Way To Achieve Greatness

Certainly technology can help us advance knowledge, improve the education of our children, and achieve greatness. The Internet is proof that young people are making great strides in intelligence since most of the knowledge of mankind is available online. How to find it is another subject entirely.

In order for young people to get the most out of the technology that is available to them is begin early on in developing the brains so that they have the capability to absorb, interpret, and apply what they learn. As I stated in Part 1, learning a musical instrument should on list of essential tools for developing intelligence. We’re not talking about passing grades or mediocrity. We’re talking about developing a mind that can not only absorb information, and regurgitate it, but a mind that has the capability to imagine, discover, and innovate. This type of mind will be able to produce, contribute to society, and compete with the rest of the greats minds of the world.

I want to make a reminder that we humans did not reach this point in time by learning algebra on a video game. The leisure and pleasures that we enjoy in this modern society were provide to us by intelligent minds that that were developed through hard work, dedication, and the desire to achieve something for the world that was greater that the world that was provide to them.

In Part 3, I will be discussing a third case study of the educational gaming suite, and provide factual data on the benefits of studying music in order to make a comparison of which method is better for building intelligent minds.

The World of Music Illustrated Within Two Hours

Having a mission of identifying and preserving the history and traditions of country music and to educate audiences about its meaning, “Music Hall of Fame and Museum” was opened in 1967 as a nonprofit educational organization in Nashville region. It was being operated as an international arts organization and a history museum of arts.

Basically the educational programs are functioned by the museum and after one year of its opening the Country Music Foundation Library was opened to public in 1968. The museum was closed in December 2000 and reopened in May 2001 with a huge investment of 37,000,000 US dollars. The museum houses a wide range of collection that depicts the history of country music of over two centuries. It also gives the opportunity to view videos of live music performances, historic museum store and some other public programs.

The building structure of this music center also includes some features relating to music it self. For instance from the exterior, many of its windows resemble black piano keys and there is a radio mast that takes a shape of a diamond. Also some parts of the structure have taken the shape of discs that look like CDs. The museum also has a huge collection of 200,000 recorded sounds in CDs and it includes about 98 percent of country music recorded before the Second World War. Other than that, the museum exhibits many other creations of world’s famous legends that include a large number of clips of Elvis Presley and many others in the history of country and American folk music.

The Hall of Fame Rotunda is a round room which gives an impression of equality to every one and it is the place that welcomes a whole family to be involved in many interactions with musicians and artists in order to gain experience in even composing music in a better learning environment. Also the center conducts free workshops on one Saturday every month which are accessible for any one to broaden their knowledge on music.

Furthermore visitors can enjoy outstanding hospitality in Nashville hotels that provide high standard accommodation around the region. With elegant atmosphere with modern interiors and great service Nashville hotels such as Millennium Maxwell House Hotel attracts guests from around the world.

The MPV Award As It Relates to Wedding Videos and Events

The MPV designation known as Merited Professional Videographer, is a designation that you receive through an organization know as WEVA, also known as the Wedding and Event Videographers Association International. What captured our attention was this MPV award, so I had my staff investigate what this MPV is all about.

At one point as a wedding video production company, we were actually considering having our entire staff attain this award. When we looked into the details of what is required to attain this coveted MPV status, we were astounded by what we found out. We also noted that there are only a handful of video production companies worldwide that have this designation. This made me wonder why, out of all the thousands of top rated video production companies so few have received this award.

This peaked our curiosity. Do not misunderstand what we are saying here. We, as a wedding video production company are all in favor of furthering our education, training and knowledge. WEVA is known as the Wedding Event Videographers Association International. This is an organization of professional and even some amateur videographers that have joined together to promote, educate and inform the videography production community.

In order to obtain the MPV award, since it is a WEVA creation, you must be a member of the organization to be eligible. The requirement to obtain the MPV designation, taken right from the WEVA website are as follows:

Any person making application for the WEVA International MPV program must be a current active member of WEVA International at the time of filing this application.
The applicant must be employed in the business of videography, or related fields, for the two years immediately preceding application.
To earn WEVA International MPV status, each applicant must successfully complete two phases of the testing process:
Pass the written examination on technical and practical knowledge.
Event Video submissions must pass the Image Review Panel. Videos may be submitted only after the written exam has been passed.
NOTE: WEVA International MPV status will be awarded once ALL PHASES of the application process have been successfully completed.

The Image Review Panel requirements are and again taken right from the WEVA website are as follows:

Two video submissions of a social event (i.e. wedding, bar or bat mitzvah, sweet 16) in its entirety, as was given to the client, will be required. No submission that has been made under the supervision of an instructor or as a class assignment with the assistance of another videographer will be eligible. The submission must be on DVD-R.

All video submissions sent to the Continuing Education office must have no author/ creator identification on the tape, except for the assigned applicant ID number, which is the last 4 digits of the applicants SS#. If these rules are not met in any one of the submitted pieces, ALL the applicants submissions will be rejected.

As you can see, this is a lot of work. We added up the costs involved in obtaining the MPV designation. The cost comes out to appoximately $800.00, which includes WEVA membership, self study guides, work book, lab costs and the application fee to take the written exam. Again, let me stress that we have no problem with people trying to better themselves through education. We actually encourage it. Once we figured everything involved, including the 20-30 hours for the study guide and the 35 credits of continuing education, we felt as an organization that this time and money could be used in a much more productive and efficient way. In my personal opinion, the reason there are only a handful of these MPV designations awarded, is because it is extremely time consuming and expensive to get an award that means nothing to anyone other than the person or company that receives it. I think the number of MPV awards out there speaks of itself. I would be willing to bet that 90% of the WEVA membership could attain this award if they chose to.

I have never yet seen a bride and groom’s eyes welled up with tears while watching their wedding video, because you are an MPV award holder. As far as the video review panel, this opens up a whole new can of worms. It brings up one of the dirtiest words in the English language, and that is politics. Even though, the image review panel has the videos numbered based on the last digits of your Social Security number, there is no mistaking style. Over the years, I have viewed thousands of wedding video productions of many companies. It is funny how after a period of time you see certain things by the same production companies put in different fashions. Eventually, you can determine almost immediately who the producer is.

For example, if a producer uses the music of the band KORN, in one video and the next they use Marilyn Manson, and the following video they use another head banging band, I guarantee you will know by the style who the video production artist is.

As a Professional Video Company, I would rather spend the money and time perfecting my work. Another thing that popped in to my mind is why would you spend this money on something like the MPV award when you could put that money towards a College Degree in Television & Communications. I guarantee you the College Degree carries a ton more weight that the MPV award does.