Can Online Gaming Be Educational?

This week for class, I watched a video of 13-year old, Lewis Tachau, talking about how online gaming has helped his communication, cooperation, and socialization skills.  Here’s the video below:

Tachau explains that the game he plays, “World of Tanks,” made him interested in World War II and began to learn about tanks, like the ones that he played in the game, and their part in the war. Tachau spewed facts about the tanks’ advantages and disadvantages in the war, how tanks were used, their strategies in battles, how they are hard to make, and so on. It’s interesting to see that from playing an online game such as this, that a kid Lewis’ age, can become interested in a subject and take upon himself of reading about it. Lewis also then explains the socialization skills of this online game.He connects with other kids who have the same interests, personality and thoughts.

With that in mind, should libraries incorporate more of these online educational games for children? Are they beneficial? Can children really learn from them? And develop these kinds of skills that Lewis did in his presentation?

I’m no expert in games or any sort of video games at all. I remember when I was a kid in elementary school and playing Zoombinis during computer class. With no knowledge of what kinds of educational games are out there, my teacher posted links to three online educational games: Webkinz, Penguin Club, and Moshi Monsters. Webkinz is an online game where you can adopt and take care of a pet, while playing educational games, puzzles and activities. Penguin Club is where they explore different islands, play activities and socialize. Moshi Monsters is just like Webkinz, but taking care of a monster! What I find important of these games is that the moderators stress for a safe and fun environment. The social chat and interaction is closely moderated and restricted to provide a safe space for kids for online chatting. These kinds of games would be fun to have at libraries I think! I think these kinds of games could serve the purpose of both having fun and learning.

It also introduces kids to an online network and communication for the first time. Since this will be a new experience for them, it’s good for the games to be moderated. Also, it will prepare them to use social media in a couple year’s time!

What do you think about online educational gaming? Good or bad for kids? Should libraries use them?

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