Are books on the way out in education? Will their role be taken by educational games?
The Digital Educational Revolution
The explosion of technology that is taking place in schools has led to a number of ideas being put forward related to the death of the book in education. More and more, laptops are being introduced in schools all over the world. In some cases, buying a laptop for a child is actually cheaper than a typical year’s spending on text-books. The OLPC (One Laptop Per Child) project is the driving force behind this in developing countries, such as Rwanda. Elsewhere, such as in Spain, current trials are underway in schools to evaluate how the use of laptops could replace much of the content now delivered through coursebooks. It also seems to make sense in order to appeal to the new generation of digital natives.
Death of the Book
That books are a dying species is a popular subject for debate on the Web and in the press. It seems clear that we are reading less, and this has been happening for some time now . Of course, books won’t totally die out, but they will probably become what they were to earlier generations – for a minority audience only. But should we really be lamenting this?
School didn’t teach me to read – I learned from my games
- a student (Prensky, 2005)
Replacing the Book with Games
Games offer so many benefits when you compare them to books:
- Playing video games burns more calories than reading a book
- Reading books chronically under-stimulates the senses
- Games are more interactive and involve players in complex decision-making
- Games are better than books at providing a context for situated meaning
Finally, the last words go to a researcher of the Institute of Educational Research, University of Oslo:
“A reader has no say in what happens to the protagonist of a book…while we may feel empathy, emotions run higher for videogames. By controlling the protagonist in a videogame, we become an active participant in the story. We are no longer passively being taken for a ride, but have to process information actively, make decisions and respond to stimuli from the game. Thus videogames are the stronger medium playing to a broader register of the human mind.”