On Tuesday, Microsoft announced that they would invest $1.5 million dollars in educational video game research. The investment is part of a larger, NYU led initiative to "to find scientific evidence that supports the use of games as a learning tool."
The games that are developed will be prototyped in several NYC schools. And while the games will be developed for use on the Xbox console, Microsoft is taking an open approach and has extended an invitation to other video game console makers to participate in the study.
Microsoft also announced a partnership with PBS to distribute digital content to the 12 million subscribers to Xbox Live. Also worth noting is that game maker Knowledge Adventure is bringing its Math Blaster game to Wii's WiiWare channel and the Xbox 360's Live Arcade. They are also working on designs for an iPhone version of the game. Given the mobile nature of today's kids, this seems like a great idea.
At the University of Michigan, a research team is looking into the potential that digital games have for teaching students concepts and skills. As part of their study, they have designed a web-based board game for teaching undergraduate students about Information Literacy Concepts and Skills. They chose a game for the task for many research-based reasons, but also because:
"Games can be with the student when an information expert cannot be. Games can be in the dorm room, at the coffee house, and anywhere else that the Internet can be accessed. Games are a way to bring information expertise to the users where they are already working."
All of this comes on the heels of a report by the Pew Internet and American Life Project that found that, when it comes to video games, "playing is universal, with almost all teens playing games and at least half playing games on a given day."
Even more importantly, and defying stereotypes, the Pew Study found that "game playing is also social, with most teens playing games with others at least some of the time."