AirTalk for September 20, 2010

Using computers to teach kids

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Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

A young girl holds an Apple iPad.

Learning math, physics, and English, at least for most kids, just isn’t as much fun as running around or blasting something away in a video game. But what if you could merge all those worlds? That’s what some educators are now attempting to do. A school in New York called “Quest to Learn” is using computers and interactive games in new ways to hammer home basic school room concepts. Programmers at Arizona State University are working on “Smallab,” an immersive, Wii-like game that teaches kids English and basic physics, by having them run around and interact with projected images. But can it really replace or even effectively supplement traditional learning? Or is this just a way to amuse children, masquerading as learning?

Guest:

David Birchfield, associate professor and a media artist at Arizona State University

Kurt Squire, Assistant Professor at University of Wisconsin-Madison in the Educational Communications and Technology division of Curriculum and Instruction and a research scientist a the Academic Advanced Distributed Learning Co-Lab. Squire is also a co-founder and current director of the Games, Learning, & Society Initiative, a group of over 50 faculty and students investigating game-based learning.


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