Do educational computer
and video games lead
to real learning gains?
Psychologists say more
research is needed.
By Amy Novotney
Many of today’s K– 12 students are spending their class time — and a lot of it — exploring science and diagramming sentences with Tim and his
robot friend, Moby, through the website BrainPOP. The
website allows kids to watch movies, complete quizzes
and play games covering hundreds of topics within math,
science, social studies, English, technology, art, music
and health. The website tracks each student’s learning
accomplishments, and teachers have access to resources
such as lesson plans, webinars, video tutorials, graphic
organizers, and best practices — aligned to and searchable
by state standards including Common Core.
BrainPOP is just one of hundreds of educational game
websites in a billion-dollar industry that is growing in
popularity. Nearly 60 percent of teachers now use digital
games at least weekly in teaching, with 18 percent using
them daily, according to a nationwide survey of 488 K– 12
teachers conducted by researchers at New York University
and the University of Michigan. In addition, more than a
third of teachers use games at least weekly to assess student
progress or understanding of class instruction.