Fox Valley Technical College, an institution based in Oskhosh, Wisconsin (USA), is using a first-person simulator game to help criminal justice students. The machine covers a wide range of scenarios a police officer might see on patrol, including domestic violence cases and missing children. It provides students a hands on way to practice the techniques they’ve learned in class before they applying them in the real world.
Chris Matheny, vice president for instruction at the school, told the The Northwestern it gives students a unique perspective.
The game complements classroom instruction and the Northwestern piece mentions other interactive opportunities. The Games Learning Society in Madison, Wisconsin, is dedicated to exploring such ideas. University of Wisconsin educational technology professor Kurt Squire thinks this is just the tip of the iceberg. He notes that teachers have used books and movies for years to help with instruction and games are the next logical step. Examples cited in the article include a California program that uses MMO World of Warcraft to teach students skills including teamwork and communication.
Material that might seem dry when read from a textbook is often easier to remember when we find a way to make it fun. Remember memory devices such as the “My Very Educated Mother” sentence to learn the nine planets? Or better yet, Theo and Cockroach’s Shakespeare Rap from The Cosby Show? Games offer a chance to read about Julius Caesar and then face his virtual likeness in battle. Imagine a virtual Abraham Lincoln giving a tour of the White House as it stood in his era. There’s enough video game material on World War II alone to publish 20 papers on. Technology is moving forward and becoming more interactive with each console generation.
As a kid, I would have to finish my homework before I could play video games. Now students today can do both at the same time.