As children and teens spend more time playing games on mobile devices like smartphones and tablets, parents and teachers want to find ways to harness that productivity for education, according to speakers at Launch Kids at Digital Book World 2014 in New York.
“97% of kids regularly play games,” said Alan Gershenfeld, founder and president of Eline Media, a New York based producer of game-based learning products. “There’s a demand among parents for games that provide value.”
Today, a tremendous amount of research is being done around how games help people learn, said Gershenfeld, but there are few products being created based on that research.
At the Content Innovation Lab at Sesame Workshop, for instance, promising research is being conducted around educational gaming experiences based around alternate reality experiences.
“Digital-physical hybrid interactive game experiences work really well with young children,” said Miles Ludwig, the managing director of the Content Innovation Lab. “Physical play connected to a device is very appealing and very accessible to very young children, even more so than iPads and touchscreen play.”
Sesame created a product that is a physical doll house that comes to life when a child looks at it through the camera on an iPad. The dolls become active and converse with the child.
Still, more research into how these products work for both entertainment and learning needs to be done, panelists said.
Once there is more data on how games help children learn and grow, parents and teachers will become more enthusiastic about the prospect.
“Once we’re able to quantify the results, it becomes more compelling for everyone,” said Ludwig.
Taking the idea a step further, assessment tools that give parents and teachers an idea of how individual kids are doing with learning through gaming will also help. And parents and teachers are ready for it.
“Teachers are completely open to games in the classroom but they don’t have the products,” said Gershenfeld.
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